Penguins minor league notebook: Gibbons remains patient for next opportunity
WILKES-BARRE — For a while, it looked like Brian Gibbons was going down the path once walked by Rico Fata and Konstantin Koltsov — fleet-footed Penguins prospects with the speed to create scoring chances but not the finish to make them count.
An undrafted free agent out of Boston College, the 5-foot-8 Gibbons created offensive opportunities by the handful during his first two seasons with the Baby Pens, but his numbers — 30 points in 70 games both years — lagged badly behind.
Gibbons has exactly 30 points again this year, but this time, they've been racked up in 27 games. He scored goals in two of his first three games after being sent down at the start of the Olympic break.
Gibbons thinks he knows what's at the root of his offensive insurgence too.
“Confidence. Not in terms of playing but in terms of finishing scoring chances,” Gibbons said. “I've always been able to get points in high school and college. My first two years here, I was struggling to do things that had always been pretty easy for me, like breakaways and two-on-ones.”
Spending some time on the right wing with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz helped his confidence too, but he doesn't know when he'll get the next chance to do that again. As the Penguins get healthier up front, there's no guarantee Gibbons will be called back up at the end of the break.
“No one here is under the impression that they're here for a couple weeks, they're going to get in some games and they're going to be automatically recalled,” coach John Hynes said.
Young man's game
The Baby Pens wore special jerseys Saturday night, replicas of the ones the Americans wore in the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics with the letters “WBS” instead of “USA” on the front.
Tom Kostopoulos is the only player on the roster who was born when the Miracle on Ice happened, and he had just celebrated his first birthday.
By contrast, four Baby Pens players — Anton Zlobin, Dominik Uher, Scott Harrington and Harrison Ruopp — hadn't been born when the Dream Team won basketball gold in Barcelona in 1992.
The Baby Pens came into Saturday on a five-game losing streak, the second-longest skid in the four seasons Hynes has been head coach.
After winning AHL goalie of the month honors in January, rookie Eric Hartzell was pulled from three of his first five starts in February. Harry Zolnierczyk, a 17-goal scorer, took his turn as a healthy scratch. Defenseman Brendan Mikkelson has been a minus in six straight games.
“This is probably the roughest stretch we've had,” Hynes said.
Nebraska-Omaha junior Josh Archibald, the Penguins' sixth-round pick in 2011, is on the kind of scoring streak that could vault him into Hobey Baker Award contention.
Archibald, a 5-10 right wing, has nine goals and four assists in his last seven games, including two hat tricks. Archibald is second in the country with 23 goals, trailing only Boston College's Johnny Gaudreau.
Jonathan Bombulie has covered the Baby Pens for the Citizens' Voice in Wilkes-Barre since the team's inception in 1999. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Injured Penguins optimistic about returning next season
- Crosby, Malkin want to remain in Pittsburgh
- Coach Johnston trying to figure out why Penguins ‘fell off a cliff’
- Penguins notebook: Crosby to play in worlds for 1st time since 2006
- Rossi: Penguins’ best bet is on Martin
- Young defensemen make case for future with Penguins
- Penguins president: General manager, coach won’t be fired
- Penguins’ Malkin: ‘We’re not a championship team’
- From injuries to front office, Penguins’ season didn’t lack drama
- Fleury valiant in defeat
- Starkey: Tracing the Penguins’ demise