After the Preds took Game 1 of the Western Conference Final on Friday, we reached out to Anaheim Calling for a little Q&A exchange. It’s nice to get a little perspective on the game from the other side, so we are gonna try to do this as much as we can in this series.
OTF: John Gibson was great Friday night. Going into the series, I had a feeling that he had been playing better than his numbers suggested. Was his performance on Friday a product of finally getting results that reflect how he's actually performed this postseason or was it a product of better defense from his supporting cast?
AC: I think it was more of Gibson getting results that reflect how he’s played. Obviously, he’s given up some soft goals and had some glaring weaknesses these playoffs. But, I think he has played remarkably better than his numbers show. After Game 7 on Wednesday, in which he wasn’t busy but still played very well, I was curious about something. Gibson has always seemed to really hit his groove when Anaheim gets a lead, and after looking up some stats, I found that Gibson leads all playoff goaltenders with a .978 Sv% when his team is leading. So if Anaheim can start games well, Gibson can play fantastic in shutting the door and preserving an Anaheim lead.
OTF: What's the key to Jakob Silfverberg's recent success? That shot was probably the toughest one Rinne has faced in these playoffs. What's his ceiling you think? 30 goal scorer? Higher?
AC: I feel like, due to the fact that Silfverberg is used in a shut-down role so often, most teams don’t understand just how potent he can be in the offensive zone. And as you said, he has a fantastic shot. While I think expectations have changed since he came to Anaheim (he was looked at originally to fill the role that Bobby Ryan left), I think he has really found his game as a remarkable two-way winger who uses his speed all over the ice. I don’t think he is a 30-goal scorer, but 20-25 every year and solid play in his own zone makes Silfverberg a very valuable player to Anaheim.
OTF: Obviously the physical nature of this series got off to a rockin' start last night. Since both teams found their way to penalty box with regularity, do you think things escalate from here? Or do cooler heads prevail? (LOL)
AC: I don’t think the physical play in this series will escalate, but I don’t see cooling off either. It’s the conference finals, and considering these teams recent playoff history, I think they’re the two hungriest teams left in these playoffs. Both teams have a chip on their shoulder and a loss in the WCF is unacceptable to them. Both of these squads will continue to use their physical presence to create momentum for themselves.