By Kyle Shohara
Shortly after being named to the upcoming NHL All-Star Game, right wing Corey Perry and goaltender John Gibson took to the ice this morning with their teammates for a pregame skate at Honda Center. For Perry, the All-Star nod is the fourth of his career, and for Gibson, the selection marks his first appearance.
Both spoke with reporters after the 30-minute skate, expressing excitement for what’s to come.
“When you get the news and you hear you’re selected, it’s definitely a good feeling,” said Perry, who leads the team in points (25) and goals (14), ranks third in assists (11) and is tied for fourth in multi-point games (4). “It’s going to be fun. The fans will embrace it. We’ll see what happens.”
On Gibson, Perry says the selection is well-deserved. “He’s done a lot of good things for this team, and he’s helped us win a lot of hockey games,” Perry said. “To be that young and be named to the team is definitely an accomplishment. We’re all proud of him.”
Gibson, 22, becomes the fourth Ducks goalie to be named to the All-Star Team after Guy Hebert in 1997 at San Jose, J.S. Giguere in 2009 at Montreal and Jonas Hiller in 2011 at Carolina. Gibson is the second youngest Ducks player to be named an All-Star after Paul Kariya (21) in 1996 at Boston.
“It’s an honor, and I didn’t really expect it,” said Gibson, who was recently named the NHL’s Rookie of the Month for December after posting a 5-3-1 record with three shutouts, a 1.62 GAA and .929 SV% in 10 appearances. “It’s going to be fun to be a part of. I expect a lot of offense with the 3-on-3, but it’ll be fun. It’s a couple of weeks away, so I still want to focus on what we have to do here. I’ll enjoy that when it comes.”
Gibson will get the start in net tonight against the Maple Leafs, who are expected to go with Jonathan Bernier.
Mike Santorelli gets to face his former club for the first time since being traded to Nashville last February. Although he was in Toronto for only 57 games, Santorelli scored 11 goals for 29 points and a plus-7 rating last season.
“I definitely enjoyed my time in Toronto and have nothing but good things to say,” Santorelli said. “It’s going to be fun. They’re playing really well right now, but we want to keep [the focus] on us. It’s going to be a good game.”
The Ducks and Maple Leafs have mirrored each other through the first half of the season, especially in October, when both teams finished with identical 1-7-2 records. Fast forward to present day and Anaheim enters the game with a 16-15-7 record (39 points) and Toronto comes in with a 15-15-7 mark (37 points).
Leading the offensive attack for the Leafs is James van Riemsdyk, who has 14 goals and 28 points in 37 games. The 26-year-old ranks second behind Leo Komarov (15) in goals and tied a career high for points in a game with three on Dec. 21 at Colorado. “JVR” enters the game with 22 points (10g/12a) in his past 24 games.
Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau says the Leafs have a strong work ethic under Mike Babcock, a trademark of his from his time in Detroit. “They’re a team to be reckoned with,” Boudreau said. “If you take them lightly, you’re going to lose. They’re a good, solid team right now. When they’re getting good goaltending, they’re a hard team to beat.”
After leaving practice early yesterday, defenseman Clayton Stoner took part in the team’s pregame skate this morning, but is unlikely to play, according to Boudreau.
“It’s nothing long-term or anything,” said Boudreau. “The way he plays, he’s going to collect some bumps and bruises.”
Stoner did not appear in Anaheim’s 4-1 victory against the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday.
In his place will be former Leaf Korbinian Holzer, who has done well in spot duty with Anaheim. The 27-year-old was paired alongside Shea Theodore on Sunday and finished with 17:15 TOI, three hits and one blocked shot. Holzer has one assist in 13 games this season.