The Anaheim Ducks' conundrum at the goaltending position took another turn Thursday night when Frederik Andersen was forced to leave Game 3 midway through the third period with an apparent lower-body injury. He was replaced by Jonas Hiller, who shut the door on the Los Angeles Kings and earned the win as Anaheim cut its series deficit to 2-1.
With Andersen's injury, the Ducks are in an interesting situation. They have reportedly called up 20-year-old phenom John Gibson, who has been terrific in the AHL playoffs for the Norfolk Admirals. Gibson also has three regular-season appearances under his belt, all wins, and put up a .954 save percentage.
No surprise with Andersen injured, Ducks have recalled John Gibson from AHL Norfolk...— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) May 9, 2014
While at Norfolk, Gibson leads the AHL postseason with a .955 save percentage in six games played and posted a 4-2 record over that span.
Meanwhile, the Ducks' more likely option for the Game 4 start is going to be Hiller. He started Games 1 and 2, both tough losses, but close games. Hiller also made two appearances in the first-round series against the Dallas Stars. His experience and performance to date in the series probably gives him the leg up.
Gibson is a bit of a wild card, however. If Andersen's injury ends up keeping him out and Hiller falters in Game 4, would Bruce Boudreau actually try to insert the future of the Ducks' franchise in such a high-leverage situation? It would be a baptism by fire, but Gibson has played in pressure situations before.
He was the MVP at the World Junior Championship in 2013 as he backstopped Team USA to the gold medal. And just last spring, Gibson wrested the No. 1 job away from Vezina finalist Ben Bishop at the world championship. He helped Team USA capture the bronze medal with incredible performances against Russia in the quarterfinals and Finland in the bronze-medal game, which Team USA won in a shootout.
The Stanley Cup playoffs is an entirely different story, though, which is why this decision is far from easy for Boudreau. Andersen's injury is a concern, but knowing there's a confident young guy who could be ready if called upon adds the most intriguing twist to this winding Ducks goaltending saga yet.