Thursday, November 22, 2007

Count the Rings...Or Not

Here are 12 random facts to illustrate the fallacy of using Cup wins and playoff team success to evaluate individual goaltenders:

1. The last 11 Stanley Cup champions have all finished in the top 5 in the league in regular season points. None of them had the regular season save percentage leader on their team, and only one (Martin Brodeur in 2003) won the Vezina Trophy and the Stanley Cup in the same season.

2. From 1976 to 1988, only three teams won the Stanley Cup (Montreal, Edmonton, and N.Y. Islanders). Three goalies combined either a Vezina or First All-Star season with a Cup win in the same season (Fuhr, Smith, Dryden), but all three teams had regular season and playoff success with several different goalies in the net.

3. Patrick Roy is widely considered to be the greatest ever playoff goaltender who stole many games, led many upset wins, and took two mediocre Montreal teams to the Stanley Cup. In his 19-year career, however, Patrick Roy only won five playoff series in which his team did not have home ice advantage. In his four Stanley Cup wins combined, Roy's team only beat one opponent that had more wins in the regular season that year. Roy was also a member of 2 President's Trophy winners and 10 division champions.

4. Between 1993-94 and 2003-04, the New Jersey Devils outshot their opponents in 20 out of 22 playoff series. They won 14 of those 22 series. Throughout his playoff career, Martin Brodeur has faced an average of nearly 4 fewer shots per game than his goaltending opponent.

5. In Edmonton, Grant Fuhr was 226-117-54 with 5 Stanley Cups. Outside of Edmonton, he was 177-178-60 with 0 Cups. In the playoffs with Wayne Gretzky on his team, Grant Fuhr was 63-21. Without Wayne Gretzky, he was 26-29. In international competitions with Gretzky: 8-2-2. Without the Great One, Fuhr was just 1-3-1.

6. Gilles Meloche played in 788 games over 18 NHL seasons, making the All-Star Game twice. Because of the poor quality of his teams, he played in only 45 playoff games, despite having a winning record in postseason play.

7. Every playoff game in Jeff Hackett's career was against a 100+ point team with either Patrick Roy or Martin Brodeur in the other net.

8. Chico Resch's career playoff GAA with the New York Islanders was 2.49, better than Billy Smith's 2.73 mark. Resch also had much better regular season statistics than Smith. Resch was traded to the Colorado Rockies on March 10, 1981, meaning he only got one Stanley Cup ring to Smith's four.

9. Michel "Bunny" Larocque went 111-26-20 from 1974-75 to 1978-79, playing with Ken Dryden and the Montreal Canadiens, and was on four Cup-winning teams. In his post-Montreal career with Toronto, Philadelphia and St. Louis, Larocque's record was 16-41-14 with a 4.87 GAA.

10. The 2003-04 Florida Panthers scored 188 goals and allowed 221, despite Roberto Luongo's .931 save percentage. Given their scoring level, the Panthers would have needed to allow 178 goals or fewer for an expected number of points that would put them in a playoff position. To accomplish this, Luongo would have had to save an additional 43 goals over the 2,475 shots he faced that season. That would have required at least a .948 seasonal save percentage just to give his team a chance at earning the 8th playoff seed in the East and a probable first round loss against the eventual Stanley Cup winners Tampa Bay.

11. In Dominik Hasek's record-breaking 1998-99 season, when he set the single-season save percentage record of .937, his team was the #7 seed in the Eastern Conference. His team did not have home ice advantage in any rounds of the playoffs, and ended up losing in the Final to Dallas, a team that was 23 points better than Buffalo during the regular season.

12. The 1981 New York Islanders finished first during the regular season with 110 points. In the playoffs, they did not play any of the next 7 highest ranked teams. Not surprisingly, they won the Stanley Cup, outscoring their opponents 97-48 in the process. Similarly, the 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning finished second overall during the season, and then avoided meeting any of the teams ranked 1st through 7th on their way to the Stanley Cup.

Two other fortunate teams were the 1991 Pittsburgh Penguins (avoided the league's 4 best teams, 82 point average opponent), and the 1986 Montreal Canadiens (avoided the league's 5 best, opponents averaged 84 points).

An example of an unfortunate team was the 2004 Calgary Flames, who faced the top 3 seeds in the Western Conference, as well as the top seed in the Eastern Conference, before losing the Stanley Cup Final in 7 games. The average regular season record of their opponents was 105 points.


Anonymous said...

You clearly show you have no idea what you're talking about when you leave out J.S Giguere's performance in the 2003 playoffs, single handedly leading the Ducks to Stanley Cup Finals.

Clean it up, this blog is a joke.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

Sorry, the list was merely demonstrative, not exhaustive. But Giguere's performance does nothing but strengthen my point, since he did not win a Stanley Cup despite playing excellently through 3 playoff rounds.

Anonymous said...

you are a joke

Anonymous said...

Brodeur might be the best "golie." But he's certainly the most Over-rated goalie. Dufus!

Crockett's Cold Ones said...

The 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning actually did meet a top-7 team during their Cup run, beating the Flyers in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Flyers had 101 points, which tied them for seventh in the league.

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