An in-depth look at the season of Michal Neuvirth
July 6, 2011 17 Comments
During every month of the 2009-10 season, the people over at Habs Eye On The Prize took a very detailed look at the performances of the two Montreal Canadiens goaltenders at the time; Jaroslav Halak and Carey Price. It was a really good way to look at which goalie had been performing better within a certain month and since we had our own goaltending controversy of our own in Washington this season, I thought it would be a good idea to do the same with Michal Neuvirth and Semyon Varlamov. Since I’m compiling and displaying data over a full-season, I can only do one goalie at a time other wise this post would be very overwhelming but having a detailed look at a goaltenders season is never a bad thing. Let’s start with Neuvirth since he had more playing time.
Neuvirth was a very nice surprise to start off the year as he recorded a .926 save percentage in the month of October and it appeared that he was well on his way to earning the #1 spot for the entire year and some think that he was that but a closer look at his season shows some of his weaknesses and what they are. What I’m going to do is give a monthly look at Neuvirth’s season, use shot charts to see which shots he let in, where he gave up most of his goals (five-hole, high glove, low stick side, etc.) and how many of the goals he gave up were “good,” “bad” or “suspect.” Let’s start off with a monthly overview of his season:
|Month||W-L-OTL||GAA||SV%||SO||EV SV%||PK SV%||PP SV%|
Want to view a game log? Go here.
By looking at this, it makes it seem that Neuvirth’s best months were in October and March with some decent/mediocre play between that time. His strong October was backed some ridiculous performances on the penalty kill including one game against Nashville where he stopped all 12 shots when the Caps were down a man. Regression was bound to happen and it did in November as he got hit with a four-spot three times and had a couple ugly performances against Atlanta and Boston during that time. Also note that despite that, he was “undefeated” in regulation despite having his worst month save percentage wise. The Caps out-scoring their opponents 32-25 during this month in Neuvirth starts alone has a lot to do with that. In fact, the Caps outscored their opponents 134-110 while Neuvirth was in net and scored at a 2.35 goal per game base. Interested to see how Varlamov compares with that. December was slightly better for Neuvy as he had great performances against Pittsburgh, Ottawa and New Jersey while allowing 3 goals on 21 shots in Boston, 2 goals on 21 shots in Dallas and getting plastered with a four-spot by the Leafs. Note that his EV and PK save percentages barely changed during that month. He only made three starts in January and was chased/got hurt and had to leave in one of them, but he wasn’t terribly impressive in all three except for the Florida game where he had to see 41 shots. February was a very up-and-down month for Neuvirth where he had some of his best performances (two shutouts against Pittsburgh) and some of his worst (3 goals on12 shots against Anaheim, a game which he was credited with a win, 3 goals on 18 shots against Phoenix, giving up 6 goals against Rangers). Note the strong even strength save percentage and awful special teams numbers. He didn’t receive too much work with the man down but he struggled when he did (2 goals on 7 shots against NYR, 1 goal on 2 shots against PHX). It was March when we began to see the Neuvirth from the beginning of the season, which could be due to a smaller workload after getting hit in the head by a puck and missing a couple games. He had to see over 25 shots in all but one of his eight starts in March and only allowed four goals in one game, which was the shootout win against the Flyers. Look at how much his PK save percentage shot up during this month too. He really stepped it up in games against the Panthers and Islanders during that time. In his three games in April, he had one solid performance against Florida and two shaky outings against Toronto and Buffalo and the Caps won those last two. 34/38 saves may not look shaky but when you watch the clips of some of the goals he allowed in that game, you’ll see why I don’t think much of his performance in that game. There were a couple games where Neuvirth had to stand on his head to keep the Caps in the game, but the offense certainly bailed Neuvy out when he wasn’t at his best. The last Buffalo game and the first game against the Rangers are perfect examples of that.
Here we are going to take a gander at how Neuvirth fared against shots from a certain part of the rink. I’ve used a similar strategy to the Habs Eye On The Prize article where I separate the offensive zone into three different parts depending on how far away from the net they are. The first one is 1-19′ and extend from the goal crease to the beginning of the face-off circle. Basically detects Neuvirth’s ability to make saves on shots that are right in his grill. The second area is 20-39′ feet away and go from inside the face-off circle to the slot. It basically shows Neuvirth’s ability to control one timers and shots that come from a scoring chance area since that’s where this area lies. Some shots come outside of it, as well. The final zone is 40’+ which extend from outside the face-off circle to the rest of the rink and it’s usually a bad thing if Neuvirth lets in a goal from this area but a lot of shots on net tend to come from here. I made rink diagrams but they are very sloppy so just use the Habs Eye on Prize article for an example of what I’m talking about. Here’s how Neuvirth fared with shots from these zones:
and through save percentages
Neuvirth struggled the most with shots that were right in front of him. Each time I looked at the shot charts, the most goals Neuvirth gave up were either right next to the crease, right in front of him or somewhere close to the net. Sometimes it was him unable to control a rebound or the defense allowing a forward to get that close to him. Either way, I’m going to say that along with his strong save percentages in the other two zones, show that Neuvirth can make the saves you need to but he has some shaky rebound control and can’t be that goalie who can steal every game for you. At least this data tells me. Some damning evidence is that in Neuvirth’s worst month (November), he saw more shots from that area than any other month. He also struggled to make saves in in that area even when he was having a good month. He improved his save percentage from that area vastly in March but you’ll see a drop-off from shots 20-39′ away from the net. Streaky performances like this are what comes with starting a young goalie for 40+ games a year.
Goal Zones and Good/Bad Goals:
Here we are going to see which zones of the net Neuvirth got beat at more than others and go through every goal this season to see how many “good,” “bad” and “suspect” goals he gave up. A good goal is generally one where he couldn’t do anything about it. Whether it was because he got beat on a good shot, a good tip in, a misplay by the defense or a quick centering pass in front of the net. A bad goal is what it sounds like; it’s a goal that should have been stopped and Neuvirth looked awful while letting it in. A goalie coming out of his net and misplaying the puck, failing to hug the post and letting one in short side or letting a shot from 50″+ feet somehow skip past him are examples of that. Suspect goals are ones that the goalie probably could have had but aren’t as egregiously bad as the former category. A shot that takes a funky rebound is the most common of this type.
Neuvirth doesn’t appear to have any areas that are strong or weak because he gave up a similar amount of goals in just about all areas of the net. However, it does appear that he is more vulnerable to be beaten high-glove and he doesn’t give up too many goals that are from a scramble in front of the net either. When watching the highlights of the goals he gave up, most of them were due to him going down early or sprawling to make a last-second save. He has some issues with over-committing pucks, especially when there’s a lot of traffic in front of the net and that is also evidenced when looking at the goals he gave up this season.
1. Fleischman turns the puck over and Evander Kane snipes a goal past Neuvirth high blocker side. Possibly screened by Tom Poti.
2. Deflection. Johnny Oduya shoots the puck from the blue line and it’s deflected in by Andrew Ladd. Happened after a failed clear.
3. Evander Kane penalty shot. Beats Neuvirth blocker side.
4. Caps lose face-off. Puck bounces right to Freddy Modin who’s wrist shot beats Neuvirth high blocker side. May have been deflected off Alzner’s stick.
5. Neuvirth makes the initial save off Jaime Langenbrunner but loses track of the rebound which is tapped in by Jason Arnott. Bad goal.
6. 4 vs 5 Slapshot from Henrik Tallinder from slightly outside the face-off circle. No screen or anyone around Neuvirth. Suspect
7. Matt Carkner’s shot is deflected by Jarkko Ruutu past Neuvirth’s 5-hole.
8. Ryan Shannan fires a shot top-shelf past Neuvirth’s blocker side after undressing John Carlson.
9. Nino Niederreiter scores on a quick wrist shot through Neuvirth’s five hole. May have been screened.
10. JP Dumont scores on a quick wrister from an odd angle that beats Neuvirth stick side. Erskine may have screened him. Suspect
11. Jordin Tootoo scores off a pass that bounced off defenseman Brian Fahey and into the net.
12. 2 on 1. Nathan Horton makes a nice cross-ice pass to David Krejci who fires a wrister past Neuvirth’s right pad.
13. Neuvirth comes out of his crease to challenge a shot. He makes the initial save but the rebound is put home by Milan Lucic into an open net. Bad.
14. 5 on 4 PP. Andrew Ladd bangs away numerous times at a loose puck in the crease and finally puts it behind Neuvirth.
15. Evander Kane scores through Neuvirth’s five-hole right in front of the crease after receiving a pass from Rich Peverley.
16. 6 vs 5. Evander Kane bats a pass out of mid-air and over Neuvirth’s shoulder.
17. Chuck Kobasew takes a feed from Andrew Brunette at the side of the goal and scores an easy goal past Neuvirth’s right pad
18. Mikko Koivu fires a snap shot through Neuvirth’s five-hole after Caps fail to clear the puck. Lots of traffic in front of the net.
19. Puck deflected in by Olli Jokinen off a shot by Jay Bouwmeester.
20. Curtis Glencross blasts a slapshot from outside the face-off circle and past Neuvirth glove-side. Suspect
1. Nikolai Kulimen snap-shot beats Neuvirth high blocker side. Neuvirth left his crease to challenge Kulimen and gave him a lot of net to shoot at. Suspect.
2. Deflection. Tomas Kaberle wrist shot from inside the face-off circle deflected at the front of the net by Mike Brown past Neuvirth high-glove.
3. Kris Versteeg scores on a breakaway and beats Neuvirth cleanly through the five-hole.
4. 5-on-4. Neuvirth is unable to control rebound from Tomas Kaberle’s shot and the rebound is put home by Tyler Bozak. Suspect
5. 5-on-4. Michael Ryder back-hands a rebound past Neuvirth for a goal. Suspect.
6. 5-on-4. Long shot from Nathan Horton from the point beats Neuvirth cleanly through the five-hole. Bad.
7. 2-on-1. Shawn Thornton backhander beats Neuvirth stick-side from the side of the crease.
8. Soft backhander from Brian Boyle beats Neuvirth high-glove. Bad.
9. Quick snap-shot from Brian Boyle beats Neuvirth high-glove after a terrible clear from Karl Alzner.
10. 2-on-0. Derek Boogaard fires a long slapshot that beats Neuvirth stick-side. Terrible.
11. Neuvirth gives up a juicy rebound from a shot at the side of the net and Teddy Purcell scores. Bad.
12.. 5-on-4. Long shot from Martin St. Louis is stopped by Neuvirth but the rebound goes off his left pad and righ to Ryan Malone who buries it for a goal.
13. Snap shot by Steven Stamkos beats Neuvirth five-hole. Possibly screened by Jeff Schultz.
14. 5-on-3. Shot from Tobias Enstrom deflects off the glass and the rebound is put in out of mid-air by Rich Peverley.
15. Andrew Ladd wirst shot from a sharp angle beats Neuvirth’s right pad. BAD.
16. Neuvirth makes the initial save off Evander Kane but the rebound goes right to Bryan Little who fires a slap shot that beats Neuvirth five-hole. Suspect.
17. 4-on-5 SH. Andrew Ladd’s first shot on a breakaway is stopped by Neuvirth but the rebound goes off his mask and into the net. Strange to say the very least….Bad.
18. 5-on-4. Derek Roy wrister beats Neuvirth high glove after a turnover in the corner.
19. Centering pass goes off a defenseman’s skate and Jordan Leopold fires a wrst shot that beats Neuvirth cleanly high blocker.
20. Wrist shot by Dustin Byfuglien from inside the face-off circle beats Neuvirth short-side. Possible screen by Erskine.
21. Alexander Burmistrov undressed Jeff Schultz, completely dekes out Neuvirth and puts home a backhander. Suspect….but a great play.
22. 5-on-4. Deflection. Shot from the slot by Chris Pronger deflected in front and past Neuvirth stick-side for a goal.
23. Neuvirth makes first save off Hartnell from the crease, gives up huge rebound that goes right to Mike Richards who buries it past Neuvirth. Bad.
24. Jeff Carter wrist shot from the slot beats Neuvirth high stick side.
25. Spin-o-rama shot from Andreas Nodl that beats Neuvirth five-hole. Neuvirth was already down in the butterfly and had his pads closed and yet, the shot somehow leaked through. Bad goal.
1. 5-on-4. Initial shot by Brad Richards is stopped but the rebound goes right to Mike Ribeiro who scores. Suspect.
2. Long, harmless looking shot from Brandon Segal from outside the right face-off circle somehow beats Neuvirth high stick side. Bad goal.
3. 5-on-4. Clarke Macarthur scores on a snap shot from inside the face-off circle beating Neuvirth high-glove.
4. Mikhail Grabovski one-timer from deep in the slot beats Neuvirth five-hole. Shot was low and looked stoppable. Bad goal.
5. Deflection. Long shot from Tomas Kaberle deflected in by Tim Brent who screened Neuvirth.
6. 6-on-5. Clarke Macarthur scores on a back-hander while standing wide open to the left of Neuvirth.
7. Neuvirth has trouble handling a shot from a sharp angle by Kevin Shattenkirk and it goes in. Bad goal.
8. 2-on-1. Ryan Wilson fires a sharp wrister on an odd-man rush which beats Neuvirth glove side.
9. 5-on-4. A completely uncovered Paul Statsny connects on a nice feed from Kevin Shattenkirk and Neuvirth could not get to his shot in time.
10. Patrice Bergeron snap shot from the slot beats Neuvirth five-hole. Looked like Neuvirth had it at first but it leaked through him. Suspect.
11. Long shot by Andrew Ference gets by Neuvirth’s left pad. No idea what happened because NESN’s camera didn’t show the goal or a replay in the highlight package.
12. Blake Wheeler fires a slap shot from the face-off dot that beats Neuvirth five-hole. a nice feed from behind the net by Patrice Bergeron.
13. Ryan Shannon scores on a quick snap-shot that beats Neuvirth low glove side. Looked like he may have mis-judged the puck. Suspect.
14. Chris Neil makes a cross crease pass to Chris Kelly who taps in a goal beating Neuvirth low stick side.
15. 5-on-4. Slapshot by Patrik Elias beats Neuvirth five-hole. Possible screen in front.
16. Deflection. Kris Letang sends a long pass to Sidney Crosby who is standing right next to the crease and deflects it past a sprawling Neuvirth.
17. Neuvirth hugs the post to stop a back-hander from Crosby, rebound goes right to Chris Kunitz who puts it home. Suspect.
1. 5-on-3. Neuvirth makes a save on Stephen Weiss, rebound trickles wide and Mike Santorelli scores on what is basically an open net. Suspect.
2. Long shot by Bryan McCabe deflected in by Marty Reasoner. Possible screen by Erskine and Schultz in front.
3. 5-on-3. Neuvirth makes the initial save on Stephen Weiss, loses track of the rebound which is put home by David Booth. Suspect.
4. 4-on-3. Dennis Wideman scores on a snap-shot from the slot beats Neuvirth low glove.
5. Shannon sends a puck towards the net and Neuvirth has major trouble with handling it which allows Mike Fisher to put it home. Bad goal.
6. Jeff Carter scores on a wrap-around goal which it looked like Neuvirth had but it crossed the line. Over-committed on Carter’s fake and didn’t get to the wrap-around attempt in time. Bad goal.
1. Logan Couture scores off a quick snap-shot from a sharp angle and beats Neuvirth five-hole. Suspect.
2. Dany Heatley makes a pass behind the net to Dan Boyle, who scores off a one-timer past Neuvirth’s left pad.
3. Cross ice pass by Radim Vrbata goes off Ray Whitney’s stick and right to Martin Hanzal who is sitting in the slot and beats Neuvirth five-hole. Suspect.
4. 5-on-4. Ray Whitney scores on a quick shot off a one-timer that beats Neuvirth low stick side. Possible screen in front.
5. 2-on-1. Scottie Upshall slides a cross-ice pass to Vernon Fiddler who beats a sprawling Neuvirth who can’t get to the shot in time.
6. 4-on-5. Breakaway goal by Corey Perry beats Neuvirth five-hole.
7. Lubomir Visnovsky sends a shot towards the net that takes two or three weird bounces and beats Neuvirth high glove. Not 100% sure what happened here. Suspect? Sure.
8. Defense fails to pick up Bobby Ryan who jumps into the play untouched and scores on a one-timer beating Neuvirth stick side.
9. 4-on-5. 2-on-1. Patrick Marleau sets up Joe Pavelski in the slot and he fires a shot that beats Neuvirth glove side.
10. Kyle Wellwood puts a shot on net that goes off Neuvirth’s pads and right to Ryane Clowe who beats a sprawling Neuvirth. Suspect.
11. 5-on-4. Deflection. Dan Boyle with a long shot from the blue line that is delfected in by Dany Heatley who screened Neuvirth in the process.
12. Slap shot from Steve Eminger in the slot deflects off John Erskine’s stick and past Neuvirth high glove.
13. Erik Christensen scores on a one-timer that beats Neuvirth low stick side.
14. 5-on-4. Erik Christensen scores on another one-timer from Ryan Callahan that beats Neuvirth high glove. Neuvirth went to the butterfly when Callahan faked a shot and the goal was practically a lay-up for Christensen.
15. 5-on-4. Michael Del Zotto’s shot is sent wide of the net by Neuvirth and the rebound comes right back out to the side of the net where Derek Stepan fires a wirst shot past him. Neuvirth too slow to make the save. Suspect.
16. Neuvirth makes two saves of Vinny Prospal and and Brian Boyle but the rebound of Boyle’s shot goes to Prospal and Neuvirth is beaten glove side. Suspect.
17. Brian Boyle fakes the shot which causes Neuvirth attempt to make a sprawling save and the net is left open and Boyle scores an easy goal. Bad.
18. Kyle Okposo scores on a curl and drag move followed by a quick wrist shot that beats Neuvirth blocker side.
19. Travis Hamoic fires what looks like a harmless looking wrist shot but it takes an odd bounce in front and Neuvirth wasn’t ready for it and it beats him high blocker. Bad.
1. 2-on-1. PA Parenteau sends a pass across in the slot to Matt Moulson who scores on a quick slap shot that beats Neuvirth low glove.
2. 3-on-2. Chris Stewart passes the puck to a wide open Alex Steen who beats Neuvirth short side with a wrist shot.
3. 2-on-1. BJ Crombeen fires a quick snap shot that beats Neuvirth stick side.
4. 2-on-1. Mike Repik sends a pass across to Bill Thomas who shoots the puck past a sprawling Neuvirth who went down to challenge the shot a bit too early.
5. 5-on-3. Scramble. David Booth backhands a lose puck home beating Neuvirth stick side.
6. 5-on-4. Deflection. Long shot by Martin St. Louis is deflected in by Sean Bergenheim past Neuvirth’s shoulder.
7. Henrik Zetterberg scores on a one-timer from the slot that beats Neuvirth high glove.
8. Deflection. Shot by Brian Rafalski is tipped in by Valteri Filppula who screened Neuvirth in the process.
9. 5-on-4. Henrik Zetterberg scores on a back-hander from a horrible angle and beats Neuvirth short side. Neuvirth went down way to early and left a huge hole for Zetterberg to shoot at while hugging the post. Bad goal.
10. Kris Versteeg slap shot from inside the face-off circle deflects off Dennis Wideman’s skate and into the net.
11. Neuvirth commits on a fake shot from Braydon Coburn who makes a quick pass to Claude Giroux who fires a one timer past Neuvirth stick side.
12. Turnover in the corner leads to Andreas Nodl being alone in front of the net who fires a slap shot that beats Neuvirth stick side.
13. Deflection. Shot from point by Kimmo Timonen is tipped in by Danny Briere through Neuvirth’s five-hole.
14. Scramble in front of net. Antoine Vermette grabs the lose puck and fires a wrist shot that beats Neuvirth high stick side.
15. One-timer from Fedor Tyutin from outside the face-off circle beats Neuvirth low stick side. No screen in front or anything. Suspect.
16. Scottie Upshall scores on a slapshot from inside the face-off circle that beats Neuvirth high glove.
1. Deflection. Long slap shot by Jason Pominville deflected in by Tomas Vanek who was camped out in front of Neuvirth the whole time.
2. Soft shot by Drew Stafford leaks through Neuvirth’s five-hole. AWUFLAWFULAWFUL goal.
3. Mini-breakaway for Paul Gaustad and he scores five-hole on Neuvirth.
4. Drew Stafford attempts a cross-ice pass which Neuvirth comes out of his crease to challenge. He makes the save but John Carlson collides into him and the puck goes into the net. Bad goal.
5. Nikolai Kulimen fires a quick wrist shot from deep in the slot that beats Neuvirth high stick side.
6. Phil Kessel makes a cross-ice pass to Joffrey Lupul who beats the defender to the net and puts the puck past a sprawling Neuvirth.
7. Bill Thomas bats the puck out of mid-air from inside the face-off circle and it somehow bounces past Neuvirth. Suspect.
There’s every goal Neuvirth has given up this year and here are the tallies I have for each type of goal he gave up:
He couldn’t do anything about 65% of the goals he gave up, but about 18% of them were bad goals and 14.5% were suspect. Something to look into is what the league average is for bad goals surrendered to see where Neuvirth stands in this category. If I was ambitious enough (and I still am), I would try to compile this data for every goalie in the league to get that number. When looking at the goals he gave up, you can see that a lot were on odd-man rushes and there were quite a few breakaways too but more often than not, most of the goals were scored from right in front and Neuvirth wasn’t able to stop shots where the opposition had a lot of traffic in front of the net. It’s difficult for many goalies to make saves like that though.
Some conclusions I’ve drawn about Neuvirth’s season:
- He’s a good goalie but not good enough to steal a game every night for the team. There are some nights where he will stand on his head but the team bailed out Neuvirth more times than he bailed out the team.
- Neuvirth is a strong first-save goaltender and his best ability seems to be stopping one-timers or shots from deep in the slot. He was dominate in that area. His weakness is not being able to make huge saves on shots that come from inside the face-off circle or right in front of the net. He also gives up some big rebounds from time-to-time and is prone to give up a bad goal every now and then. He also goes down to the butterfly more times than I’m comfortable with. Most of his goals were due to him going down too early and trying to recover in time to make a save but he couldn’t. Once he works on his mechanics a bit, it should be great to see what he can turn into. Despite these problems, Neuvirth put up above average numbers and is under team control at a low cost for the next few seasons so we’ll see if he can turn into that #1 goalie who can steal games for us. He showed that he can handle a big workload this year but he wasn’t the most consistent so that’s something we’d like to see him improve on. With Tomas Vokoun mentoring him, there’s no doubt in my mind that he can improve on these numbers. Not playing in nearly 50 games could help him too. Not that I think he needs less playing time but he had a pretty huge workload for a 22-year old last season so maybe giving him some more nights off will help him in the long run.
Since Varlamov is gone now, should I do this for him too?