Tuesday, October 25, 2005


A look at the POOR goalies!

My pal, Chris "CK", commented on the fact that some of the NHLs usual star goalies are having very tough starts to this NHL season

What do you think of the new NHL rules? Gotta love the fast pace of the games, thanks to the removal of the red line and the referees calling everything in sight. ;)

But what do goalies think? With their defensemen unable to clear the front of the net as in days past, and the reduction in equipment, many of the NHL's top goaltenders have struggled thus far

Albeit most of these guys had limited action the past year and are still getting used to new teammates, but still, when the only consistent goalies thus far have been Luongo and Hasek - it has to be a concern for team's.

Well, let's look at the magical spreadsheet I whipped up and have a look at some struggling goaltenders. Of course, these are only small sample sizes, but it won't stop us from analyzing the state of things.

Paris Hilton ain't here, fool!

J-S Giguere - He was picked by many to struggle without his massive pads. He is also facing a lot of shots per game behind Anaheim's 'improved' defence.

Jussi Markkanen/Ty Conklin - Conklin was worse than Ashlee Simpson's new album...the Oilers recalled an ECHL goalie to replace him. Markkanen was good in Europe last year and I don't think the Oilers should give up on him yet. He's really their best hope right now and his numbers aren't horrible.

Mikka Kiprusoff - Has the magic pixie dust worn off? Kipper started poorly and just managed to crawl back up to the .900SV% mark

Olaf Kolzig - Poor guy faces way more shots per night than any other goalie. Kolzig might arguably not be a good goalie these days, but I don't think even Hasek in his prime would have been able to carry the Crapitals to any decent record. Nobody even comes close to Kolzig's 38 shots against per game.

Dan Cloutier - Same old, same old.

Martin Brodeur - I love to say 'I told you so', and I bet the year-long layoff has hurt him somewhat. It's interesting to see the Devils now let over 30 shots against per game, so now Brodeur has entered into territory he's never come close to before. Without the supersolid defence in front of him, Brodeur is struggling mightily.

Ed Belfour - He's old, his back is creaky, and he missed a year. People also forget that the Leafs have a pretty shaky defence and Wade Belak is getting killed in the New NHL. Also, this Bryan McCabe love needs to stop. The guy may be scoring a ton of points these days, but his defensive coverage is sometimes as bad as Bryan Berard's.

Jose Theodore - Folks, this is why the W-L record is such a poor indicator of goaltending ability. Oh, we know Jose is a good goalie normally, but he's got a 5-2 record, faces very few shots per game, yet he is near the bottom in Save Percentage. The Habs are winning, and it's not because of Jose.

Robert Esche - Next to Khabibulin, Esche is the biggest goaltending disappointment this year. The Flyers really protect him well but he's been a total sieve behind a strong defensive club. Esche may have the ball taken away from him if he doesn't shape up soon.

Kevin Weekes - Look, If the Evil Swede is playing great, give him the #1 job for awhile. There isn't always a need to have "THE #1 MAN" on a team...look at Minnesota! If Weekes is cold right now, he shouldn't be playing. If he gets hot later, give him the run of things.

Nikolai Khabibulin - Wow, he's turning out to be an ever bigger waste of money than I imagined! Chicago is actually doing well with prevent shots against, but Khabibulin is sucking the life right out of that team. If he's not killing them in their salary structure, he's killing them in the nets.

We'll check back after a more substantial number of games have been played to see if any of these trends will hold. As the guys who sat out a year (Brodeur, Theodore) get back into playing shape, we would expect them to revert back to some level of 'normalcy'. Then again, CuJo is doing great behind a crappy Coyotes club and he's got the same level of rust to shake off.

We'll also see if Olaf Kolzig finally snaps and kills one of his own defensemen.

Theodore didn't sit out a year. He played 17 regular season games in Sweden as well as a couple of post-season rounds.

Theodore tends to get off to slow starts and then finds his game by November. We'll see if that's the case this time around or if he's really struggling under the NHL rules and regulations regarding goalie equipment.

The good thing for Montreal is they now have offensive depth they were lacking in previous seasons when Theodore's slow start would've burned them (2002-03 season for example). If he gets his groove back, the Canadiens could become a dangerous hockey team.
.902 isn't that bad of a save percentage this season. Those guys at the top of the list may be all stars at this rate.
I agree with you Lyle, or maybe that's just wishful thinking on my part because I'm a habs fan...

So who is the best goalie thus far in the "new nhl era" this season then? Hasek?
Belfour is also a notorious slow starter. He had a couple of bad moments last night but was otherwise spectacular. Beldour will be fine.

Hasek's off to a good start but lets see what happens if/when any adversity starts. He is the kind of guy who can go from team hero to a pain in the butt in the locker room very quickly.
Good post Jes. It's interesting that Philly and the Rangers haven't yet handed the reins to their young guys.

Regarding your question about who the best goalie of the "new" NHL is - have you seen Tomas Vokoun's stats this season? In his first 6 starts, he's 6-0, 1.95 GAA, .934 SV%. He's carried Nashville on the nights when the offense has been shut down. In the last two games - vs. SJ and tonight vs. CHI - he's stopped 75 of 80 shots.
I think Ryan Miller's been the best. Jason LaBarbera looks phenomenal too. Before tonight, I would have picked Manny Fernandez.
I have to say it is Roberto Luongo. He has one of the worst defenses in the NHL in front of him but has managed to get 2 shut outs, post a 2.33 goals against average and a very good .934 save percentage. And unlike some of the other guys (Fernandez, Labarbera, Lundqvist) he plays every day and I know Luongo will keep playing this good for the rest of the year.

Manny Legace has to get some mention too. I thought the Wings would struggle in net but so far so good. Ryan Miller's been good too but his numbers just don't compare (2.70, .914) to the others.
1. Woops on Theodore. I blame marijuana.

2. The best goalie in the old and new NHL was/is Roberto Luongo, IMO. I think as the season goes along, he will still remain at the top of the heap as always.

I am glad LaBarbera is finally get a chance. He has proven to be an excellent goalie in the AHL and it was just problems with his conditioning that seemed to hold him back. I think the Kings will need to monitor him closely in that regard.
It's hard to determine though what is "struggling" and "bad" for goalies right now - 10 years ago, people raved about Felix Potvin because his GAA was around 2.70 all the time. A 2.50 GAA was considered exceptional... those days might be returning, with the average goalie having around a 3.00 GAA and a .890%.

Certainly that list can be deceiving - the Devils would be just as bad as the Penguins right now if it wasn't for Marty, Belfour has been key in every single Leafs victory and/or point game so far despite a few flaws - yeah he has a 8 something save %, but he made 49 saves on 53 shots the other night! That's fantastic.

Kipper too would be fine and better if Calgary got something rolling in the way of their special teams... at all.
re: Brodeur

Save for one game, Brodeur has been playing extremely well. In fact, he's probably the only reason why the Devils have a single win this year. The big problem doesn't seem to be the loss of "The Scotts" (although that's obviously part of it), but rather the new puck-handling rules.

Marty (like Belfour and Turco) really was a third defenceman back there. His ability to play the puck made his "D" look good - not visa versa. With the new rules, the "D" are having to scramble back into the corners and rush their plays. Martin & Rafalski in particular are then turning the puck over way too much, creating scoring chances that NOBODY - not even Brodeur - can stop.
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