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2016 Playoff Preview: Pekka Rinne vs John Gibson

2016 Playoff Preview: Pekka Rinne vs John Gibson

While Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau has both John Gibson and Frederik Andersen available to him, Nashville will once again turn to Pekka Rinne as the franchise looks to kick on in the ultra competitive Western Conference.

Before even breaking down the respective goaltenders games, it makes for an intriguing dynamic given Rinne’s inconsistency this season as well as the Ducks previous tendency to switch goaltenders mid series.

Gibson is favoured to start for Anaheim on Friday, but the equally capable Andersen could still play a role in this series if Boudreau feels things aren’t working in the Ducks crease in what seems likely to be a battle of defensive juggernauts.

John Gibson

Save %GAAGSAAEven Strength Save %Adjusted Save %High Danger Save %
.9202.075.46.922.915.809

Inclined to stay in or around the edges of the crease, Gibson’s game possesses a lot of admirable qualities, but also still has some areas of weakness Nashville might look to expose.

His tendency to stay in a neutral position can put him in good stead to move laterally on side-to-side plays, but the 22-year-old can sometimes seem almost lazy in doing so, potentially leaving holes as he looks to time his arrival with the play, rather than beating the puck and getting set.

That said, this is perhaps a trait that should have played in to the hands of opposing powerplays, but Gibson finished the regular season with a league leading .927 save percentage on the penalty kill.

Gibson also makes use of the VH and reverse-VH post integration, sometimes opting to stay on his feet when play moves behind the net. Again, this allows the Ducks goaltender to play to the situation and quickly move from his goal line to the top of the crease, but there is room for fine tuning and the tactic brings with it the possibility Nashville could expose him down low from in tight.

Ultimately, the 22-year-old has a well rounded game that simply lacks a little polish in some areas – which is perhaps to be expected at such a young age.

The only area Gibson might be considered ‘weak’ is puck handling; though neither he nor team mate Andersen have ever been serious stick handlers partly due to the ‘springy’ nature of the boards at the Honda Center.

Pekka Rinne

Save %GAAGSAAEven Strength Save %Adjusted Save %High Danger Save %
.9082.48-12.51.920.899.770

After a roller coaster season, Rinne seemed to find some form again through the final weeks of the regular season, likely bringing a huge sigh of relief from Predators fans considering the veteran puck stoppers somewhat erratic play earlier in the campaign.

One of the most active goaltenders in the NHL, Rinne can often be found challenging shooters well outside the top of his crease, making him a formidable opponent when dialled in, but occasionally causing him problems when his timing is off – as we saw earlier this year.

The 33-year-old still possess a great glove hand and his tendency to stay on his feet longer than most goaltenders when integrating with his posts also allows him greater mobility when moving away from the goal line again.

The trade off is that Rinne has sometimes been caught in transition when trying to get his pad down to seal the ice on low or tight angle plays.

Rinne has also been known to ‘reach’ for the puck a little too often when trying to use his glove hand, leaving him vulnerable to tips and redirected shots.

By his own admittance, he has sometimes struggled in games where he sees little action, making for an intriguing proposition for the offensively gifted Ducks – should they reign it in slightly in order to frustrate Rinne?

It’s a possibility give that there is an element of unpredictability to Rinne’s game which often makes it hard to form any kind of game plan against him. If he’s on point, his size, speed and aggression make him a fearsome opponent for even the best shooters.

About The Author

Rob McGregor

A member of In Goal Magazine's editorial team, Rob is also the editor of the One Puck Short blog and host of the One Puck Short podcast . A former goaltender in Great Britain's third tier National League (NIHL), Rob also writes for Today's Slapshot and has previously written for a number of other outlets, including the BBC.

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