Which of these two goalies is having the better season?
Goalie A: 30-14, 1.99 GAA, .929 save %, 9 shutouts
Goalie B: 15-15, 2.76 GAA, .903 save %, 0 shutouts
The answer: After adjusting for the team defence in front of them, the level of their performances is almost identical, as measured by shot-quality neutral save percentage.
The first is Brodeur, the second is Khabibulin. Marty faces the easiest shots of any goalie in the league. The Bulin Wall faces the hardest.
An average starting goalie facing Brodeur's shots could be expected to have a save percentage around .925. The exact same goalie facing Khabibulin's shots would be expected to have a save percentage of about .898. Even though the goalie is exactly the same, he would be over 33% more likely to give up a goal on any given shot playing for Chicago than New Jersey.
This, once again, shows why goaltending performance needs to be viewed in context. For some statistics (wins, GAA, shutouts), the team has probably more of an impact on the stats than the goalie himself. Even save percentage is very team dependent.
Goalies playing for bottom of the league teams can and do have outstanding seasons, even if they don’t make the playoffs. This year, Khabibulin, Rick DiPietro, Manny Legace, and Olaf Kolzig are all having excellent seasons, even though if the season ended today they would all be at home be watching the playoffs on TV.