Goaltending beats rock, paper or scissors

I have been on the DL the past 6 weeks or so with some pesky tendinitis which gets aggravated every day while on the computer at work.   While I am quite proficient using a mouse left-handed, I am tired of my blog collecting dust.  So I’ve given myself a challenge: blog posts in 500 words or less.  I get to write, take it easy on my arm and get to work on being waaay more concise with my posts.

Since I started my blog, I’ve often made use of Allan Ryder’s Player Contribution model which among other things clearly points out that the goalie’s relative contribution to team success is huge, probably 20-35%.  One round of the playoffs is done and I thought I would see how things shook out.

Boston vs. Buffalo (Bruins in 6)

Rask: 193 shots against, .927 save percentage (yes, I am oversimplifying things)
Miller: 204 shots against, .926 save percentage

Not much between them, every game could have gone either way.

Washington vs. Montreal (Montreal in 7)

Halak: 231 shots against, .939%
Price: 59 shots against, .898%
Varlamov: 153 shots, .908%
Theodore: 40 shots, .875%

Not much to say here, the much better team got beat because of outstanding goaltending and a lot of blocked shots.  Good thing Martin switched back to Halak!

Pittsburgh vs. Ottawa (Pittsburgh in 6)

Fleury: 173 shots, .890%
Elliott: 95 shots, .853%
Leclaire: 125 shots, .920%

After moving to Leclaire, he almost willed the Sens to victory in a tight series.

Philadelphia vs. New Jersey (Philly in 5)

Boucher: 134 shots, .940%
Brodeur: 126 shots, .881%

I suspect even if we factored in shot quality, Brodeur had a horrible series.

Vancouver vs. Los Angeles (Van in 6)

Luongo: 159 shots, .893%
Quick: 181 shots, .884%

LA played great and could have picked off the Canucks had Quick managed to play great the whole series.

Chicago vs. Nashville (Chicago in 6)

Niemi: 164 shots, .920%
Rinne: 179 shots, .911%

I’m shocked Niemi’s sv % is that high.  He looked shaky the whole way through.

Detroit vs. Phoenix (Wings in 7)

Howard: 221 shots, .919%
Bryzgalov: 255 shots, .906%

Detroit was ripe for the picking but Bryzgalov wasn’t quite as good as the regular season.

Colorado vs. San Jose (SJ in 6)

Anderson: 239 shots, .933%
Nabokov: 149 shots, .926%

Look at that shot difference!  If Nabokov hadn’t played superb, Anderson would have helped the Avs steal this series.

Other than the Colorado series, the team with the higher save percentage won the series.  No shxt Sherlock!  I do think that my premise holds up:  Montreal wouldn’t have won without Halak; Colorado would have been gone in 4 or 5 without Anderson; Detroit would have lost if Howard played like Osgood did last year; and Los Angeles would have won with better than average goaltending.

If you are a team and you want to go to the playoffs and beyond, open your purse for a goalie!  Brian Burke knows this as he continues to accumulate goalies with the expectation that he’ll have at least two keepers.   Does Steve Tambellini understand how important goaltending is?  My ouiji board says, ‘all signs point to no’.

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1 Comment

Filed under Hockey

One response to “Goaltending beats rock, paper or scissors

  1. I will hopefully one day look at this post and laugh at how I struggled piece together something remotely interesting in 500 words the first time I tried. That’ll learn me for not sketching out an outline. Would have been a much better post if I just stuck to the Habs series and expanded on teh quantification of the goalie’s relative importance.

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