Thursday, February 15, 2007


A look-see at the NHL's Goaltenders

Now that we're 2/3rd done the season, I feel the need to analyze some of the goaltenders in the league as we head into the stretch run.

Martin Brodeur - (55GP 35-15-5, 2.07GAA, 92.7%)

I've been oft-critical of Martin Brodeur, the goaltender with the golden horseshoe up his arse. While he has always piled up the big win totals and made the most out of great situations, he's rarely ever been among the true top 3 in the league in any one season. He's got a nice Vezina replica on his trophy shelf, but it wasn't really deserved.

This season? He's actually got an amazing case for the Vezina, and has truly never played better. He's second in the league with a 92.7SV%, first in shutouts with 10(!), first in wins (35), and first in GAA with 2.07.

He's faced 27.89 shots per 60 minutes, which is a much higher rate than what's he has been used to in past years, and has kept the Devils on a successful path despite many roster deletions over the past couple of seasons.

I'll give him his props, he definitely is Vezina-worthy this season.

Roberto Luongo - (54GP 32-18-3, 2.34GAA, 92.1SV%)

At the start of the season, Luongo was really struggling and was definitely not the "Luongod" we expected. Fortunately, the fans here were willing to cut him some slack (very rare for any goaltender) and supported Luongo through his adjustment period. I guess the fans (as I did) figured Luongo would find himself eventually, and he certainly did.

I don't often pump goalies for the MVP, but Luongo has a great case based on the "Most valuable to his team" argument. No goalie has faced more shots on goal this year (1553, 29.60 per 60 minutes), and no goalie has had quite the profound effect on his team, not even Brodeur. Want to know where the Canucks would be with Dan Cloutier back in net? Sniffing the Blue Jackets' asses like a dog.


Sometimes, the best laid plans go to waste, and a backup goalie ends up supplanting the "#1" and doing a much better job.


Ray Emery: 41GP 24-13-2, 2.40GAA, 92.3SV%
Martin Gerber: 21GP 9-9-1, 2.92GAA, 90.4SV%

...and this isn't the first time Gerber has been usurped. You'd think Ottawa would have looked at Gerber's real numbers from last year before shelling out millions....


Peter Budaj: 35GP 17-13-3, 2.67GAA, 90.9SV%
Jose Theodore: 27GP 10-12-1, 3.30GAA, 89.2SV%

As a Canucks fan, I'm quite happy that the Colorado Avalanche were dumb enough to dress the shell-shocked Theodore so often to justify his large salary. If the Avs played Budaj more than they have, they'd likely be in a playoff spot.


The best true tandem? That would be the Nashville Predators. When Tomas Vokoun went down with a long-term injury earlier this season, there was much panic in the land that produces really bad "country" music.

Instead, Chris Mason came in and did an ever better job than Vokoun. Given Mason's numbers from last season, it's not a huge surprise...

Chris Mason: 33GP, 21-9-2, 2.35GAA, 92.7SV%
Tomas Vokoun: 27GP, 18-7-1, 2.38GAA, 92.1SV%


Who has the easiest goaltending job in the NHL? That would be Dominik "Smoker's Teeth" Hasek, who faces a measly 22.53 shots per 60 minutes. He has the very shiny wins (30), GAA (2.08), and gets a load of positive press. What the press doesn't seem to notice is his league-average 90.8SV%.

Still, the Wings are doing the smart thing by keeping Hasek from getting fatigued and tearing up his groin during the season. All the Wings need is for Hasek to 'be there' when the playoffs start.


Sometimes, a good offence isn't enough...
Q: What do the Carolina Hurricanes, Atlanta Thrashers, and Tampa Bay Lightning all have in common?

A: Great goal scoring and crappy goaltending! All 3 teams have littered the scoring leaderboards with offensive firepower (Whitney, St. Louis, Lecavalier, Hossa, Kovalchuk, etc...), and are struggling to achieve a great deal of success.

The Hurricanes rank 8th in goals for and 22nd in goals against.
The Lightning rank 10th in goals for 20th in goals against
The Thrashees rank 11th in goals for and 25th in goals against.

Somehow, the Tampa Bay Lightning thought that bringing in a guy who could barely handle the #1 duties for the Columbus Blue Jackets would be the solution to their goaltending problems. Huh??!?! Well, he didn't work out so well, so they got some generic Swedish guy to take over...

Marc Denis: 30GP 11-13-2, 3.15GAA, 88.0SV% (2nd worst)
Johan Holmqvist: 33GP 21-11-10, 2.64GAA, 90.1SV% (Winning despite a poor SV%)

The Carolina Hurricanes were smart to let the Sens overpay for Martin Gerber, but fooled into thinking Cam Ward could handle the #1 duties.

While his cup ring will earn Ward a LOT of leeway, it was always hard for me to ignore his really bad regular season numbers last year. He got hot at the right time, and it was hard to project if he could hold his playoff performance into the regular season.

Cam Ward: 46GP 24-14-6, 2.88GAA, 89.9SV%

The Thrashees? Well, Kari Lehtonen's final fantasy is giving out just-below-average goaltending with a statline of 51GP 25-17-8, 2.88GAA, 90.8SV%.

Unlike Hasek, who can sleep through half of his games, Kari faces a whopping 31.51 shots per game! Kari isn't carrying the team, but you can't blame him for the Thrashers inattention to defence.

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Wow.. hell officially has frozen over: Jes said something nice about Marty.

Brodeur or Luongo for Hart 2007!
Q: What do the Carolina Hurricanes, Atlanta Thrashers, and Tampa Bay Lightning all have in common?

A: Great goal scoring and crappy goaltending!

Actually, they all have great goaltending, it's just that playing Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin eight times a season will ruin any goalie's GAA.
If you're being serious, JP (which I'm not sure of), Washington is 8th in the East in goals for. Playing Buffalo eight times is what's going to inflate goaltending numbers, if anything.
Good point about Colorado- Budaj has been fantastic and Theodore nothing but shaky. It's just hard to sit $5.5 million on the bench.
Well Budaj can be fantastic but he is not consistent. Of course, next to Theodore he looks like a rock.

I'm glad you pointed out about Hasek having such a bad save percentage. Yes, he has a great number of wins and GAA but his save percentage makes me nervous come playoff time.
Hasek is starting to look like Roy did in some regular seasons where his save percentage would be downright awful. He is healthier than the last few years...oops forgot wrist/hand injury...correct that. As for Luongo, he doesn't pad his stats as much as he used to. Luongo still has a tendency to get himself in more trouble at times but he doesn't do it to a detriment like he used to in Florida or Long Island. Simply, he has grown up...and will probably be the best in the game when Brodeur retires.
Budaj got the hook tonight against the Flames. I think that sometimes Quenville is awfully quick with the hook on goalies.
Given the way my team has been playing, I'm not in much of a mood to defend them lately. But I have to mention for Cam Ward's sake that he is playing behind completely inept defensemen this year.

They have simply forgotten how to play. It's pitiful. I never thought Aaron Ward was the most important player on the Hurricanes, but we REALLY miss his shotblocing and toughness on the blueline.
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