Brian Gibbons has been, in one word, outstanding.
Leaving Game 2 in round one after registering two goals due to an undisclosed injury, Gibbons was re-inserted into the lineup for Game 2 of their current series, and has been nothing short of exceptional.
Although Gibbons has yet to record a goal since being activated, he’s provided a sufficient penalty-killing game, and instilled energy into the Pens’ third/fourth-line with his blazing speed, while showing a strong willingness to chase down opposing puck-handlers.
Replacing the recently ineffective Tanner Glass, Gibbons is also playing a huge factor in how well the fourth-line is performing. Though they’ve been delivering quality outings night-in-and-night-out, Gibbons’ tenacious ways have further enhanced the ability to produce.
Gibbons’ roster spot was a complete unknown heading into the postseason.
Called up and sent down sporadically throughout the season, Gibbons has excelled more than what Pittsburgh was probably anticipating. However, due to his dominant numbers down in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, it really is no surprise Gibbons is delivering gem performances.
Averaging a little over a point-per-game, Gibbons’ collected 30 points (11G, 19A) in 28 American Hockey League (AHL) games this season, and still finished seventh on WBS, despite the transition to the NHL. And with more experience under his belt as time passes, Gibbons is only propelling his game.
Part of the reason he’s been able to adapt so quickly is because Gibbons’ spent a good portion of the regular-season skating alongside Sidney Crosby.
With Beau Bennett sidelined due to a long-term injury and Pascal Dupuis out for the season, Gibbons’ slotted on Crosby’s right wing, and for the most part, kept the pace of play. Easily matching Crosby and Kunitz’s speed, Gibbons was able to get a leg up on his improvement, and has promptly taken it to the next level.
I applaud head coach Dan Bylsma for putting Gibbons in.
Glass is more than qualified for the job, and has contributed steadily throughout the 2013-14 campaign, but he recognized he wasn’t fit for their current series. Acknowledging the fact Gibbons hasn’t turned down the volume, and made the smart decisions, Bylsma realized the Pens are better off with him in the lineup.
When you’re in the playoffs, you need all four lines playing at a high-level, and Gibbons is supplying much help needed to keep their game ascending.
If Pittsburgh’s able to close out this series on Friday, expect Gibbons to play a role in their possible clincher.
Game 5 can be seen on the NBC Sports Network, and is set to start at 7 p.m.
Tags: Pittsburgh Penguins