After having dealt with the aggregate numbers, it's time to delve into the individual data to take a detailed look at the situational performance of Belfour, Brodeur, Hasek, Joseph and Roy. The last time I tried to rank them by their high-leverage performance, I put them in the following order: 1. Belfour, 2. Roy, 3. Hasek, 4. Joseph, 5. Brodeur. This time I'm armed with substantially more detailed data, having broken every playoff game they played between 1994 and 2008 (except for 1997) by period and game situation, so it's time to review and update those rankings.
I expected that since all these goalies were pretty good, there wouldn't be a huge difference in their play late in the game. Turns out I was wrong. Here is how the goalies did during the first two periods:
Patrick Roy: 2.16, .923
Ed Belfour: 2.19, .921
Dominik Hasek: 2.11, .920
Martin Brodeur: 1.97, .919
Curtis Joseph: 2.37, .916
Very similar performance all around. Now let's add in their results for the 3rd period and overtime, and I'll also include my "close and late" save percentage, which includes overtime and all third periods that began tied or with a one goal differential.
Dominik Hasek: 1.77, .935 in 3rd/OT, .939 close and late
Ed Belfour: 1.75, .932 in 3rd/OT, .936 close and late
Martin Brodeur: 1.92, .919 in 3rd/OT, .923 close and late
Patrick Roy: 2.22, .919 in 3rd/OT, .905 close and late
Curtis Joseph: 2.08, .918 in 3rd/OT, .912 close and late
Hasek and Belfour significantly outperformed their peers late in games, or at least they appear to have done so. We need to evaluate the team factors before we can make a conclusive statement.
The first situation to look at is when the goalie's team is leading by one goal after 2 periods. How a goalie performs when his team is leading late in the game is probably one of the main measures people use to determine how "clutch" someone is. If a goalie can hold the other team off the scoresheet in this scenario, his team wins, which is a pretty valuable contribution.
Up By One Goal After 2 Periods:
In third periods his team entered leading by one goal, Dominik Hasek had an 0.83 GAA and a .970 save percentage. Did his team's style of play contribute to that? It probably did, but you can factor in an awfully strong team effect and those numbers are still disgustingly good. In Buffalo the shot splits indicate that the Sabres were pretty much hanging on for dear life whenever they got a lead - in all the third periods they started with the lead combined, the Sabres were outshot by nearly a two-to-one ratio and scored on only 5% of their shots, yet they went 21-1 because the opposition almost never scored on Hasek.
The numbers indicate that Curtis Joseph's teams were similar in terms of trading off offence to try to hold the lead. Cujo did pretty well with a .938 save percentage despite getting almost no goal support.
The numbers show that Brodeur, Belfour and Roy all benefitted from teams that were very good at counterattacking when in the lead. Brodeur had a very good save percentage, although the Devils had the best shots for/shots against ratio and probably were mostly outplaying the opposition even while ahead late. I would guess that, with the Devils' strength combined with the opposing team's likely heavy shot bias, Brodeur was probably facing a relatively low shot quality against here. The Devils were noteworthy for having a few third periods where they led but still completely shut down the opposition to the tune of only 1 or 2 shots against in the third period. However, all goalies probably faced somewhat easier than average shots when their teams were ahead by a goal in the third, and Brodeur likely did contribute to his team finishing out games.
Both Belfour and Roy had fairly mediocre save rates. Roy in particularly did quite poorly in this scenario, at least in the portion of his career included in the study, posting a sub-.900 save percentage and allowing the other team to come back to win 9 times.
Next up, how our 5 netminders did when the game was tied:
Tied After 2 Periods:
The tied results are a little trickier to evaluate, because both the shot rates and save percentages depend a fair bit on which team ended up scoring first to break the tie. Roy's win/loss was very good in these situations, yet the numbers indicate that the Avalanche snipers were probably the ones driving the results.
This was the only situation that Hasek's results were not outstanding. His save percentage was not too bad relative to his peers, but he may have let in a few goals at the wrong time since his win/loss record was worse than expected.
Joseph again did pretty well but got very little goal support, and that is reflected in his record.
Belfour significantly outperformed everyone else here, but his numbers show that the Dallas Stars were an elite team in tied games late.
Belfour in DAL: 31-18 SF/SA, .952 Sv%, 2.17 GF/60
All other teams: 20-32 SF/SA, .934 Sv%, 1.55 GF/60
Since it is a similar scenario, let's look at overtime results as well:
Put these two scenarios together, and Ed Belfour was the guy with the most success in tie games. Belfour and Hasek were both strongly outshot on average in OT, yet played well enough to help their teams to a winning record.
Roy's overtime legend is well established, and these numbers do not disappoint. The shots for and against numbers seem to indicate that Colorado trusted their goalie enough to play a more open style of game in overtime, and their offence and Roy's goaltending combined for some pretty good results.
I've been critical of Martin Brodeur's overtime record before, but to be fair he has had abysmal goal support. His save percentage has not been outstanding in OT, but most of the blame should fall on the shooters. Once again Curtis Joseph did not get much goal support, but he also didn't make as many saves as he should have in sudden death play.
The final game situation was when a team is trailing. Which goalie was best able to hold the other team off and allow his team a chance to tie the game?
Down by One Goal After 2 Periods:
The answer, once again, is Dominik Hasek. Hasek faced the most shots of any of the goalies, and had a dominating save percentage (.955). Hasek's goal support was about average, but his team went 8-9 in games they entered the third period trailing by a goal. For comparison's sake, the average winning percentage of the other 4 goalies combined was just 26%. Belfour again joined Hasek well clear of the rest of the field.
Somewhat interestingly, the goalie that got the most support in this scenario was Curtis Joseph, the same guy who had the least goal support at pretty much all other times. Joseph's teams had a very strong outshooting rate when trailing, but Cujo's performance was not very good (.883).
If I had to rank the goalies based on their overall performance in high-leverage situations, the top choice is pretty obvious: Dominik Hasek. Hasek was great in OT, dominating when his team was trying to mount a comeback, and virtually unbeatable when they had the lead. Hasek's career was great, but his results in Buffalo were even better - as a Sabre, Hasek's "close and late" playoff save percentage in 1,167 high-leverage third period and OT minutes was an astonishing .949.
Ed Belfour takes the second spot comfortably, with Brodeur and Joseph pretty close for 3rd and 4th. Somewhat surprisingly, Patrick Roy ends up in 5th.
Roy and Joseph both suffer a bit because the 1997 playoff season is missing here. I have no doubt that Roy's playoff results in Montreal would look very strong, although they would need to be adjusted somewhat to the league scoring averages to make for a fair comparison with the Colorado numbers. I do suspect that we would see some strong team factors at play with Roy's numbers as well, however, since the Canadiens had a strong defence. The evidence here suggests that the Avalanche did not have a particularly strong team defence, but their high shooting percentages were a big help for Roy.
This whole exercise helps describe a bit more of the team context these guys were playing in. Most of all, however, it shows that Dominik Hasek was the best goalie of his generation, and that his advantage over his peers was even greater when the chips were down.