Series Preview: Ducks Goaltending

Everything you need to know, and what to expect from the boys from Orange County. Also, the best course of action for the Predators to beat them. First up: the goalies.

Let's start by saying this: the Nashville Predators are ahead of schedule. Plenty of teams resort to tanking, tearing everything down, and building outward around high draft picks. So when the Predators were circling the drain in 2013 and Martin Erat asked to leave, most of us became comfortable with the idea of a rebuild. And in all honesty, some of us welcomed it.

The Nashville Predators, up until this year, were never built for the "long game". Typically, good Preds teams have been a collection of try-hards and cheap contracts that played well together. But for the first time since their inception, the Predators are built for the future beyond this year, and next year.

The depth chart is getting more and more rounded out by youth, skating talent, and skill. And the the window to win the title has grown from two years into the next decade. Players like Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg, Calle Jarnkrok, and James Neal have moved the timetable forward. Those smart trades were needed to supplement the roster and to win with players like Mike Fisher, Shea Weber, and Pekka Rinne. Players like Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm, and Craig Smith have progressed into their roles and made this team special.

You know this team. They're playing against a very good team to start this postseason. But the Predators? They're good. And they don't care who picks who in their series previews.

Bruce Bourdreau was quoted recently saying that both John Gibson and Frederik Andersen might see time in the playoffs. This logic does defy the old guard of hockey, who believes that teams need to stick with one guy throughout the playoff run, unless he falters. But planning to play both netminders doesn't seem like a bad idea, seeing that both are young and both have some minor flaws. But even with their flaws, they're taking home the Jennings Trophy. So don't act like they're bad. In fact, they're both very good and will play on the international stage at some point.

Early reports suggest that Gibson will get the first crack. Andersen suffered a concussion down the stretch, and while Gibson's numbers weren't spectacular in spring, they didn't have to be. The Ducks were the eater of worlds this spring.

Here are their 5v5 numbers on the season:

Goaltender GP Sv% Adjusted Sv% Low-Danger Sv% Med-Danger Sv% High-Danger Sv%
Frederik Andersen 43 92.96% 92.68% 96.99% 92.65% 85.97%
John Gibson 40 92.16% 91.68% 98.09% 93.03% 80.30%

And now the shorthanded numbers for the year:

Goaltender GP Sv% Adjusted Sv% Low-Danger Sv% Med-Danger Sv% High-Danger Sv%
Frederik Andersen 40 88.52% 87.80% 93.26% 87.76% 80.00%
John Gibson 40 93.02% 92.56% 97.59% 92.86% 85.11%

And 5v5 since February 1st:

Goaltender GP Sv% Adjusted Sv% Low-Danger Sv% Med-Danger Sv% High-Danger Sv%
Frederik Andersen 19 93.71% 93.71% 98.87% 91.03% 86.32%
John Gibson 19 91.64% 91.44% 98.29% 95.19% 76.92%

And finally, the shorthanded numbers since February 1st:

Goaltender GP Sv% Adjusted Sv% Low-Danger Sv% Med-Danger Sv% High-Danger Sv%
Frederik Andersen 17 85.39% 83.90% 91.67% 80.00% 76.19%
John Gibson 19 92.77% 91.79% 97.73% 86.96% 87.50%

Verdict: you might prefer to see Gibson. The 22-year-old is only an inch shorter than the Dane, but he's much more likely to give up a marker from the precious real estate in front of the net. Plus, he seemed to lose steam as the season went on. But the Ducks penalty kill was stellar this year, and Gibson looks to be a large part of that success.

Earlier this year, getting to the front of the net was a real challenge for Nashville. The blue area = less shots than the league average.

But as the year progressed and thanks to the Johansen trade, the Preds have an above average shooting rate from the area we call home plate. So the recipe for beating these guys? GET CLOSE.

The good news is this: the Anaheim Ducks give up more high-danger scoring chances than the Preds. For as good of a defense as they have, they do allow their share of chances once you get through the neutral zone. The Ducks allow just over 10 high-danger chances per every 60 minutes played at 5v5.

What all of this means:

Someone has to be in front of the net at all times when the Preds are in the offensive zone. It's playoff hockey, and that idea shouldn't be a surprise. The good news here is that every line has an effective net-front player. Forsberg is very good in this area, and Johansen is a mutant on skates. But don't forget about Jarnkrok, who slips in behind the play while Johansen and Neal are drawing all the attention. Then you have Mike Fisher, and that's exactly how he scores.

It shouldn't take fancy charts and numbers to make that first point.

Also, these are a couple of young goalies (especially in the case of Gibson). Don't be surprised if you see some "crafty" plays, like those irritating shots from below the goal line that use the goalie as a backboard. Goalies hate those. The Preds irritated Roberto Luongo with those back in 2011.

The Ducks may not have amazing, flashy goaltending. But they have two effective netminders that do the job just fine, and knowing they have two solid options is a comfort point for the rest of their team.

All stats are from