By: Melissa Esing (Off_thepost)
Throughout the 2013-2014 NHL season, I’ll be posting player features each Friday. This week, we’re going to take a look at Brian Gibbons.
New and fresh to the NHL, this 25-year-old, Brian Gibbons, was first recalled by the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins after forward Dustin Jeffrey was claimed by the Dallas Stars. At the time, Gibbons was leading Pittsburgh’s AHL team with 22 points in 15 games, which ranked him third overall in the AHL.
In his NHL debut game against the Anaheim Ducks, he did more than impress. He started the game out on the third line with Brandon Sutter and Jussi Jokinen. He skated as if he had always been “one of them”. He successfully found open space for his line mates, while also gaining a plus-2 rating.
He was named the first star of the game due to his first goal of the game, including an assist. Something about Gibbons’ goal, with an assist from Evgeni Malkin, provided the team with the electricity and motivation they needed. Everything seemed to align. Pittsburgh stole the game with a final score of 3-1.
“I didn’t know it went in right away,” said Gibbons in a post-game interview. “I was kind of blocked off by their defenseman. I saw Geno get excited, so that’s when I knew it went in.”
Although he stands at 5-foot-8, he made it clear that his small frame would not be a determining factor for his skill level, which makes for a great story.
After not seeing much point action within his five games with Pittsburgh, Gibbons was reassigned to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in order to make room for the return of Chuck Kobasew. This was short-lived, though. Once again, Gibbons was recalled from the Baby Penguins in mid-December due to more Pittsburgh Penguins’ injuries. What a shocker. At this point, Gibbons was returning to the NHL after dominating offensively, holding 27 points in 23 games, a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton team high.
We haven’t seen much action from Gibbons since his return to the NHL, but that changed after a beautiful, unassisted goal against the Vancouver Canucks this past week. After a faceoff loss, he took the puck in on a breakaway, succesfully beating Eddie Lack through his five hole.Along with that, it’s crazy to think that Gibbons was given the opportunity to play with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz, but it turns out that he showed everyone how well he could keep up. There’s no doubt that we all miss Pascal Dupuis on that line, but for now, this is a prime opportunity for Gibbons to show us what he can do. That goal definitely was a confidence booster for him.
“His element is speed,” said Dan Bylsma in an interview. “That’s what he’s been able to bring and he wants to continue on that line, he’s got to bring that.”