Thursday, March 15, 2007

Quantifying Money Goalies

The five best goalies of the last 20 years are probably Patrick Roy, Dominik Hasek, Martin Brodeur, Ed Belfour, and Curtis Joseph. All of them have had extensive regular season and playoff success, and have been among the league leaders over a number of years of play. Their regular season stats are readily accessible and have been looked at by many, but what I am interested in is how their playoff performances rank. Who really came up the biggest when it counted? Who had the best performances, when you factor in era, teammates, and opponents?

Quite often this discussion comes down to a single statistic: Stanley Cups won. This is unfair, because it ignores all team factors. Most of the time, the better team wins a playoff series, rather than the best goalie. A hot goalie can make a difference, but it is extremely difficult and unlikely for any goalie to steal four series in a row. In fact, many of the best playoff goaltending performances ended up just short of the Stanley Cup (e.g. Hextall in 1987, Hasek in 1999, Giguere in 2003). Goalies should be judged on their performance overall rather than simply whether their team was left standing at the end. has game-by-game stats for all the goalies, which allows for a thorough breakdown of performance. I will also apply my newly introduced head-to-head wins statistic, as well as other relevant situational breakdowns.

The study is divided into 5 parts, coming over the next 5 days: clutch performance, ability to steal a game, team effects, overall performance, and my final ranking of the best playoff goalie.

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