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Predators vs. Ducks Preview: Bring on the Goalies

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Now we dive into who will be between the pipes

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Nashville Predators at Anaheim Ducks Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Continuing our series preview, today we look at the guys who make or break the series: the goaltenders. Nashville has the hottest goalie on the planet, Pekka Rinne, who is currently running through the best teams in the Western Conference.

Anaheim has two starting-caliber goaltenders in John Gibson and Jonathan Bernier. They will need to rely on one — or both — to carry them through what is expected to be a physical series.

The Starter

Whatever the Ducks did with regular season John Gibson, they need to find him to have any chance of surviving this playoff series. Gibson ranked fourth among goaltenders (with 40 starts) in save percent, .924, and goals-against-average, 2.22.

In the playoffs, however, he has a .908 save percentage and 2.80 goals-against-average — both worst among goalies making at least 10 playoff starts. In Anaheim’s three losses this postseason, Gibson is giving up 4.66 goals per game - including giving up three goals on six shots against Edmonton in Game 6.

The 23-year-old has the lowest save percentage among the four remaining goalies, and he has been pulled from a game in each of the first two series.

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Most of the scoring chances against Gibson come directly in front of the net. Players who crash the net such as Viktor Arvidsson, Colin Wilson and Mike Fisher could potentially have a big series against Anaheim.

The Backup

Jonathan Bernier had a pretty solid regular season as well. He went 21-7-4 with a .915 save percentage and a 2.50 goals-against-average. He has played in two games in the postseason; a 5-4 overtime win against Calgary, and the 7-1 loss to Edmonton. He saved all 16 shots against the Flames, picking up the win, and he gave up four goals on 29 shots against the Oilers.

Should Gibson falter, Bernier has proven himself to be more than capable of stepping in and providing a stop gap.

hockeyviz.com

He has shown that he is most susceptible to allowing goals on his glove side. Should he find himself in net, Arvidsson and James Neal could potentially bust out of their playoff slumps.

The Bottom Line

As well as Pekka Rinne has played this postseason, John Gibson will have to stand on his head for Anaheim to have a chance at winning this series.

He did hold off Connor McDavid and company for seven games, and won Game 7, so he is fully capable of doing so.