Saturday, March 28, 2009

Quality Starts

Puck Prospectus has come up with a definition of a quality start for a goalie, and has a list of the leaders and trailers in the category for this season. Their definition of a quality start is a game with a save percentage above .912, or a save percentage between .883 and .912 while allowing 2 goals or less.

Defining and measuring quality starts is something I have hacked around a bit with, and I know others have as well. I think most quality start definitions include something to do with 2 goals or less, just because the winning percentage splits drop so dramatically for a team once that third goal goes in. The problem is that there is obviously a team element involved, stopping 14/16 is usually quite different than stopping 39/41, but save percentage is also team-influenced.

My ideal quality start would be awarded whenever a goalie allows fewer goals against than expected based on the shots he faced, but that would require a detailed shot quality analysis for every single game to determine.

Perhaps the most interesting bit in the article was pointing out that the median save percentage was .912. Last I checked the average was around .907, which shows how bad games can have a disproportionate impact on goalie stats. There isn't much difference between letting up 5 goals or 9 goals, in both cases your team is going to lose nearly all of the time, but obviously the latter figure is going to have a bigger impact on a goalie's save stats. Henrik Lundqvist is one example of a goalie who seems to have a couple of games a year where he gets shelled for 7 goals on 20 shots or something like that but is otherwise pretty consistent.

It is probably a good idea to look at metrics like quality starts to avoid penalizing goalies too much for a few bad games that really hurt their seasonal GAA and save percentage stats, or on the other hand to see if goalies that record a lot of shutouts are really putting up excellent performances from game-to-game.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is a pretty useless statistic in my eyes. There is no way to judge consistency based on these metrics. For example, 20 of Henrik's quality starts came in his first 24 games. So he has 20 in his last 39.

On the topic of Lundqvist. Talk about a goaltender who contributes from his team more than anyone. The Rangers have faced the weakest opponents over anyone in the entire league and Lundqvist has fed off of the likes of Tampa Bay, Atlanta, New York Islanders, and Ottawa. He is 9-1 against the two worst teams in the eastern conference with a 1.5 GAA and a .941 save %. He has below a .900 save % against eastern conference playoff teams. He is nothing without a defense in front of him. Since he's been in the league the Rangers have faced the 5th fewest shots. Factor in that he has below average rebound control and puckhandling skills and it's apparent how much coverage he receives. Since the Rangers defense has fallen Lundqvist has had to resort to playing 26% of his eastern conference match-ups against the two worst teams in order to pad his statistics. He has had only 6 regulation wins against the top 12 teams of the eastern conference.

His season has been a piece of **** that has been shined gold by the New York media and fans, everything you hate about Brodeur times 10.

I hope you plan on changing the name of this blog to Lundqvist Is a Fraud after Brodeur retires.

Anonymous said...

Yea, definitely agree with anonymous one. I am looking at the right side of the page where the overrateds are listed and can not believe Lundqvist is not among them. Maybe CG is a Ranger fan, which would then justify the anti Brodeur stance, but otherwise see no reason for Lundqvist not being ranked among the top 3 most overrated guys in the league.

There work done on Brodeur is great, but the case if researched enough against Lundqvist, looks to be an excellent "conspiracy theory" type story. Whether factoring in how for the most part a career minor league like Valiquette(minus the 10 goal game against Dallas in which Lundqvist refused to play even though Valiquette had the flu) has not only posted good numbers over the past 2 years (ala Clemmenson in NJ) but Valiquette has posted significantly better numbers than Lundqvist, including his sqns%. If you go further, you will also run into the gross exaggerations given on a consistent basis from MSG scorekeepers, and an average sqns% once this erroneous reporting is adjusted. Not only that, but his claim to fame has been winning 30 games a year, including the shootouts, despite playing 70 games a year, PLUS his "Vezina nominations" in which he basically was placed in third by HIS OWN GM giving his first place votes, in years in which their where clear cut 1-2 candidates, making the results very easy to tamper with in terms of guys ranking 3-10.

If you want to be objective, then lets start calling all spades, spades. Lundqvist is clearly an average goalie who has benefitted tremendously from playing in New York. For reasons beyond me, he seems to be exempt from taking blame for the Rangers poor play. This year he has given up 3 or more almost 30% of the time he starts, maybe even more often, all while facing relatively easy shots. You mention his consistency? The only thing consistent about Lundqvist is that every year, he is great for the first 15-20 games, and then god awful for the middle third of the season.

Also, if you want to talk about Olympic play, this guy has become a legend in New York because of his apparent "Stealing" of a gold medal for Sweden, which frankly is ridiculous because not only did he split time with tellqvist, but he also posted a lousy .907 save percentage despite playing for a stacked team that at times purposely lost games to avoid playing some of the better teams in the tournament.

So if you want to look into it, I suggest you should, because this guy is easily the most overrated goalie in the league.

Anonymous said...

* Correction on the above, he has given up 3 or more 38% of the time. And as noted before, his numbers against the top 12 in the East are pitiful, despite facing a pretty average workload, and relatively easy shots

doubleO7 said...

I do not care how many shots a guy faces, but having a save percentage of .885 is not a quality start. I am a life long Ranger fan, and can tell you that we have been involved in far too many games this year where we lose while only giving up 2 goals, and goaltending is the reason why. Games that jump to mind are a 2-1 loss to Florida, 2-1 loss to St. Louis, and a 3-0( an EN for #3) against NJ.

Which leads me to Lundqvist. As I said, I am a huge Ranger fan, but above all, a big time fan of the game of hockey(losing as often as we unfortunately have will cause you to take more of an interest in the game itself), and also somebody who has played goalie for 15 years at various levels. Now I do not want to get on Lundqvist too much, however from my playing experience, I can tell you that more often then not, the pace and style in which the game is played often influences the outcome more than anything else. I tend to agree with you that Brodeur is overrated, however I would not call it coincidence guys like Brodeur or Belfour when with Dallas made a living winning 2-1 and 3-2 games. Some guys are good at staying focused at playing to the score, and others simply are not.

So I will agree with you, and others that this "quality" stat, really can be misleading. In the case of Henrik, I would also tend to agree with others that he is pretty overrated. It took me a while to come around to it, especially being a fan of the team he plays for, and I did not make it priority to see things the way the first two blogger here have, but I really do think there is a lot of truth in what they have said. One of the bigger issues with him is consistency, and I think both the team, media, and fans do a good job of protecting him, even when he is not playing well.

Anonymous said...

couldnt agree more on lundqvist. i found it odd that in his rrokie year he was able to get nominated for the vezina(fitting his rookie year has been the best year of his career to date), which is especially odd considering how gm's rarely select first year guys over proven vets, however what is ever more ridiculous with him is that despite a decline in his performance over the next couple years, he still managed to get nominated again, and again, and possibly again this year.

i know recently on the hf boards, there wasd a poll asking where he ranked in the league, AND 70% OF PEOPLE HAD THIS GUY AS TOP 5, WITH ABOUT 35% SAYING HIS WAS TOP 3 OR HIGHER.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

I do not live in the New York area or follow the New York media, so keep that in mind when I identify overrated or underrated players. There are certain players that are absolutely overrated by their local media, and that is probably true for Lundqvist this year in New York.

He has below a .900 save % against eastern conference playoff teams. He is nothing without a defense in front of him.

I'd just like to correct this statement: This year, it appears that Lundqvist has been nothing without a defense in front of him.

Let's look at records vs. playoff teams from just one year ago:

Lundqvist: 21-8-6, 2.00, .922
Brodeur: 18-16-3, 2.45, .911

I'd agree Lundqvist hasn't been particularly outstanding either this season or last season, and he has received a lot of credit for playing behind a decent team defence. I still think that his 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons were pretty good, though, so I'm not sure which two season stretch is more representative of the "real" Lundqvist. I'm holding out judgment for now, but if over the next season or two he keeps on racking up the wins with average save percentages behind a good shot preventing team while getting fawned over by the New York media, then absolutely he is going up in the overrated column.