Monday, April 27, 2009

2008-09 Shot Quality

Behind the Net has posted shot quality data for goalies in 2008-09. I am particularly interested in these numbers, as they are based on the same ESPN data I am collecting for the playoffs. As I have been discussing lately there is still room for improvement with these kind of metrics, but they are better than the raw data and at least provide some evidence of the actual level of performance of NHL goalies.

With the Vezina finalists due to be announced today, I had more or less settled on Tim Thomas, Tomas Vokoun and Roberto Luongo as my top 3, and this is pretty good evidence for that viewpoint. All three of them were terrific at even-strength this year. My pick for the most underrated goalie in the league, Kari Lehtonen, also does very well. Henrik Lundqvist ranks highly, although I'm not sure whether we can trust his numbers or not as Madison Square Garden's reporting biases are well-known.

Evgeni Nabokov, Miikka Kiprusoff, and Niklas Backstrom don't look all that good after adjusting for shot quality. Both Nabokov and Kiprusoff have about average shot quality against, so they have little excuse for their relatively unimpressive save percentages, and Backstrom faced the easiest shots against in the league.

Cam Ward and Steve Mason are two others who could get some voting support. They wouldn't be bad choices, and would both be preferable to any of the above three, but I don't think they would be the best picks either.

Regardless, the voting results for this year's Vezina Trophy and First Team All-Star goalie should be very interesting and will show us what the GMs and the media value in evaluating goalies.

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