NHL Goaltending in 2010-11

We’ve seen many interesting things happening with goaltending this season. There’s been some simply unreal performances by goalies along with a lot of abysmal showings from some goalies which we didn’t see coming. I’ve been keeping track of goalie stats this year by using SAA as a metric which judges how many shots a goalie has stopped above the league average at even strength. Let’s take a lot at the top five and bottom five goalies in the league through this.

TOP 5

Goalie Team GP GS SA GA SV pct SAA /1200 z-score
Tim Thomas BOS 57 55 1486 79 1407 0.947 38.71 31.26 0.59
Roberto Luongo VAN 60 60 1416 94 1322 0.934 18.16 15.39 0.29
Pekka Rinne NSH 64 64 1578 107 1471 0.932 17.99 13.68 0.26
Carey Price MTL 72 70 1683 116 1567 0.931 17.31 12.34 0.23
Ilya Bryzgalov PHX 68 67 1666 115 1551 0.931 16.96 12.22 0.23

Pretty ridiculous numbers from all five but Tim Thomas in particular has been obscene this season. Even with a drop-off towards the bottom-half of the year, he has still led the league in just about every goaltending category. It’s a given that he will win the Veznia this season but who will the other two candidates be. I would be hard-pressed not to include Luongo but I think Price and Rinne will get the nod over him. Both have played in more games and saw a lot more shots than him so that’s what does it for me. Also, Vancouver’s had good play from back-up Cory Schnieder while Carey Price has started all but 12 games this season with a replacement-level back-up in Alex Auld. I will say that Luongo and Schnieder’s play this year really shows how good of a team Vancouver is. Luongo’s been outstanding this year and you could probably argue that he isn’t even the MVP of the Canucks with his supporting cast.

BOTTOM 5

Chris Mason ATL 33 28 721 71 650 0.902 -13.89 -23.12 -0.44
Ty Conklin STL 25 20 479 52 427 0.891 -14.06 -35.22 -0.67
Nikolai Khabibulin EDM 47 46 1087 103 984 0.905 -16.90 -18.66 -0.35
Rick DiPietro NYI 26 26 599 67 532 0.888 -19.55 -39.17 -0.74
Brian Elliott COL 55 51 1237 124 1113 0.900 -26.02 -25.24 -0.48

This really doesn’t make DP or Khabibulin’s contracts look any better. Many thought that the Oilers would get better goaltending this season with a healthy Khabibulin but he ended up being horrendous and even Devan Dubnyk outperformed him. What’s the worst thing about Elliott being the worst goalie in the league through SAA? Colorado traded for him in a straight-up goalie-for-goalie swap with the Seantors for Craig Anderson who has done well in Ottawa. The Avs other goalie, Peter Budaj, is the 11th worst goalie through this stat. I know one team that’s going to be looking for a goalie this off-season. Remember when Ty Conklin used to be one of the more solid #2 goalies in the league? What happened there?

SURPRISES

Antti Niemi .930 save %, 14.45 SAA

I know he won the Stanley Cup last year and everything but I always thought ht he wasn’t that good of a goalie and only rode a strong defense for the Hawks last season. However, he’s been proving me wrong as he’s played very well for the Sharks this season. I thought the contract they gave him was a bit premature, though and could hurt them in a few years.

Kari Lehtonen .928 save %, 12.2 SAA

Lehtonen’s had above-average numbers for his entire career, actually but this was his best showing since 2007. He is actually a pretty solid goalie….when he’s healthy, which is why the biggest surprise with him is that he actually stayed healthy for more than 3/4 of the season.

James Reimer .933 save %, 11.14 SAA

With all of the goalie problems the Leafs have had over the years, the one guy who comes through for him is a rookie who was only called up because Giguere and Gustavsson were hurt. He only played in 37 games but it is hard not to say that he played great and behind a somewhat weak defense. My hope for the Leafs is that Burke won’t give him a Toskala-like contract.

Ondrej Pavelec .928 save %, 9.42 SAA

I know it’s inflated because of a strong start but he was fantastic for the first half of the season and one of the only reasons the Thrashers were in the playoff race for as long as they were. He also did this behind a horrible defense which surrendered the most shots in the league per game.

Corey Crawford .924 save %, 4.36 SAA

He’s been in the Blackhawks system for awhile but I thought the plan was to have Turco start with Crawford as the back-up seeing but the former performed terrible which opened the door for Crawford and he made the most of it. The thing I’m wondering is why the Hawks gave Huet that ridiculous contract when they had this kid and Niemi in their system already?

DISAPPOINTMENTS

Dan Ellis .905 save %, -13.28 SAA

The Lightning picking him up this off-season appeared to be one of the better signings but he absolutely plummeted and was traded for Curtis McIlhenny as a result. It’s a shame because he has been servicaeble 1 A/B goaltender for awhile but after seeing him complaining about not having enough money on Twitter, I think his play this year is some good old fashioned poetic justice.

Jaroslav Halak .916 save %, -6.33 SAA

It was thought that Halak would give the Blues consistent goaltending after letting Chris Mason walk but instead, they get almost the opposite of that. It doesn’t help that he got hurt constantly, had the worst season of his career and Ty Conklin was horrible as a back-up. Just to keep rubbing salt in the wound, Carey Price played amazing for the Habs as the clear #1 there. The real joke on the Blues is that Halak makes more money than Price.

Tomas Vokoun .919 Save %, -2.2 SAA

I know his numbers could be a lot worse but he is usually one of the best goalies in the league and his play was only average this year. Not exactly the best season to have considering he’s a UFA this summer but I still think some team will give him a big pay-day given his reputation as an elite goalie but GM’s will be wary of his numbers this season and his age.

Craig Anderson .917 Save %, -4.54 SAA

He played better after being traded to Ottawa but while in Colorado, he was pretty bad and the Avs didn’t even feel that he was worth re-signing. It was probably more of a bad move on Colorado’s part but he still had his worst season post-lockout.

Martin Brodeur .912 save %, -9.82 SAA

One of the biggest factors to the Devils first-half disaster was that Brodeur wasn’t able to stop the puck at all. You can say it was poor defense but having a save percentage of less than .900 for over three months is scary bad. Especially for a goalie who was a Veznia candidate the previous year.

There’s a lot more but these are the ones who stuck out to me. I’m going to look at some other stats with the goalie stats that I’ve compiled this season. One of which is going to be about how GM’s will be looking to sign goalies after being conservative towards signing them last off-season.

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