Despite winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of last season’s playoffs, Anaheim goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere needs to prove himself all over again.
Giguere will start in net for the first time in over a week as the defending Western Conference champion Ducks visit the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center.
Giguere, who led Anaheim to its first-ever Stanley Cup Finals in June with his brilliant goaltending, began this season 1-5, allowing 19 goals in those six starts.
The slow start forced the Ducks to go with backup goalie Martin Gerber in the next five games. Anaheim went 3-0-1 behind Gerber before Giguere had to relieve him in Saturday’s 4-1 road loss to the New York Islanders.
Giguere allowed one goal in his first action since a 5-2 home loss to Buffalo on Oct. 24.
“You have to be ready for that when you’re the backup goalie—it’s part of your job,” said Giguere after facing 12 shots.
Ducks coach Mike Babcock told Giguere before Saturday’s game that he would start Sunday as the Ducks play the fourth game of a six-game road trip. Giguere has been working dilligently with goaltending coach Francois Allaire in practice in an attempt to get back on his game.
“He got in, he saw the puck for two periods, he’s had a good week of practice with Frank,” Babcock said. “The reality is that we know that Jiggs is our guy and we’re going to give him the opportunity to be that guy.”
Rob Niedermayer scored Anaheim’s lone goal Saturday, his team-leading fifth and the team’s seventh power-play goal in six games.
The Mighty Ducks are 4-2-1-1 following their 0-4 start.
Anaheim is unbeaten in its last six (4-0-2-0) meetings with Chicago.
Sergei Fedorov has 73 points in 72 career games against the Blackhawks. He enters with four points in his last three contests.
The Blackhawks got solid goaltending from starter Jocelyn Thibault in ending their three-game winless streak with a 3-2 victory at St. Louis on Saturday.
Thibault made 31 saves, turning away 12 shots in the second period and 13 in the third.
The Blackhawks had only four shots on goal in the third period, and finished with 19 for the game.
”(Thibault) was like our whole team in the third period,” coach Brian Sutter said. “Our goaltending has been outstanding.”
Chicago is 4-1-2 in its last seven games.