Monday, May 25, 2009

Why Pittsburgh is Better This Time

I've been quite impressed by the Pittsburgh Penguins this playoff season. Their goalscoring expoits are attracting all the headlines, but they are also playing a strong all-around game that is completely overwhelming Carolina at the moment. I think the Penguins will put up a much better fight in the Stanley Cup Final this year, assuming they finish off the Eastern Conference Final series that they currently lead 3-0.

Even though the Pens made it to the Finals last year with many of the same players, their underlying numbers are quite different. Last year's version was not as strong defensively, and depended on goaltending to keep the puck out of their net. The '08 squad was outshot 610-594 in the playoffs, and Marc-Andre Fleury's .933 save percentage was critical for their goal prevention.

This year Fleury has just a .902 save percentage in the postseason, despite facing easier than average shots against and playing on a disciplined team that has not taken many penalties. By my shot quality estimates, Fleury has cost his team about 9 goals compared to average, which is more than any other goalie in the playoffs (although that is partly because most of the other goalies who played poorly went out in the first round). This matches my subjective view that he hasn't been particularly good.

Despite this the Penguins are winning, often in dominating fashion. They have become an outshooting team with a significant 569-460 edge in shots, which has allowed them to average an outstanding 3.7 goals per game despite posting what is for them a typical shooting percentage. Through 2+ rounds this year they have already scored as many goals as they did through 4 rounds one year ago. The Penguins are not relying on percentages but are simply outplaying their opponents, which is the mark of a strong team.

Fleury's play hasn't been a concern as of yet, although it might be soon in what is expected to be a closer, more tight-checking Final. Pittsburgh likely won't be able to count on an outshooting advantage against their Western Conference opponent, which means that the play of their goaltender will become more significant. Fleury is certainly capable of doing better, however, and if he can pick up his game and Pittsburgh is able to add solid goaltending to the offensive fireworks of Crosby and Malkin then they are a strong contender to win it all, even if they have to once again go through Detroit.

106 comments:

sunnymehta.com said...

i was hoping you were gonna share an opinion as to why you think pittsburgh's shot numbers are so different this playoff season (despite having very similar personnel to this past regular season as well as last year's full season).

fyi a few of his discussed this topic at Jlikens' Objective NHL blog...

http://objectivenhl.blogspot.com/2009/05/playoff-predictions-third-round-part.html

definitely true about fleury though

Anonymous said...

I was agreeing with pretty much everything that you said. I really do like this Penguins team (even though in my opinion they've been granted a lot of leeway by the refs), but their weak link is some rather average play this time around by Fleury. Osgood, who will likely face him on the other side of the ice, has by contrast been outstanding by any measure.

The thing that concerns me isn't just the fact that Detroit will be a much tougher team by several orders of magnitude than Philadelphia, Washington, and the Canes, but that the reffing advantage Pittsburgh has enjoyed so far through the playoffs will likely end there. In terms of team play, however, I suspect that Pittsburgh will be able to hold their own with the Wings. One top line (Getzlaf, Perry, and Ryan) was very nearly able to do in Detroit, and Malkin/Crosby/Kunitz is at least as good as the Ducks' #1 line (and they have more secondary scoring too).

I hope they can do it, and I think they have the greatest shot of taking out Detroit outside of Anaheim.

Joe said...

One top line (Getzlaf, Perry, and Ryan) was very nearly able to do in Detroit,Uhhhh, no.

The fact that the Ducks had a goaltender going out of his mind for almost every game of that series, along with a fantastically successful team defensive concept is what almost did in the Wings. The first line can be corraled for the most part. Its the fact that it was so hard for DET to get goals that made the series hard. That's the key to beating Detroit, is not just trying to score more goals than them, but to make it too hard for them to score goals themselves.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

Sunny: I don't know what explains the Pittsburgh shot differential. I think part of it is that Crosby and especially Malkin are just more dominant this year than last year, but I do agree with JLikens that coaching probably has something to do with it as well since the numbers seem to have improved across the board.

I'll also just agree with Joe that it was the goaltender that was the main reason that Anaheim stuck with Detroit. If Detroit outplays Pittsburgh to the same degree, Fleury won't be able to keep them in it.

But Pittsburgh might be able to keep the scoring chances close. So far in the playoffs, Detroit has been averaging about 0.8 expected goals per game more than their opponents, which is a huge edge. Pittsburgh is at 0.6. If the scoring chances are even then it comes down to shooters, goaltending and luck, and that certainly gives the Penguins a chance.

"Osgood, who will likely face him on the other side of the ice, has by contrast been outstanding by any measure."

I disagree. He's been solid and above average, but neither my subjective view nor the numbers indicate that he has been outstanding.

sunnymehta.com said...

CG,

"neither my subjective view nor the numbers indicate that he has been outstanding."


I think one could quibble with the latter half of that sentence. I assume you're factoring in some sort of quality metric, but given that the debate is still out on a lot of that stuff, it's hard to look at Detroit's ES Sv% of .945 and say it's not outstanding.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

"I assume you're factoring in some sort of quality metric, but given that the debate is still out on a lot of that stuff, it's hard to look at Detroit's ES Sv% of .945 and say it's not outstanding."

Part of it depends on what you mean by outstanding. After Cam Ward's return to earth against the Penguins, I would say the only goalie who has been outstanding in the playoffs has been Jonas Hiller.

I'd say it's probably fair to say Osgood's been excellent at even strength, but look at the next column over. He's been getting lit up on the PK the entire year (.828) and that has continued in the playoffs (.805). I'm not sure what to make of that, maybe it's just bad luck or poor teammates around him, but I doubt it.

Part of my shot quality evaluation is from watching him play. To me, it looks easier to play net in Detroit, because the shooters don't usually have much time or options. For example, guys like Patrick Kane aren't getting close to the same kind of time and space to snipe against Osgood the way they did in the last couple of games against Luongo. Maybe I'm letting a subjective bias get in there to some degree, but my shot quality numbers also have Osgood at just a couple of goals better than average through the entire playoffs.

Anonymous said...

"I disagree. He's been solid and above average, but neither my subjective view nor the numbers indicate that he has been outstanding."

I'd say more than solid. In fact, I would say the performance gap between him and Hiller is less than everybody is assuming. Look at:

--his first period in Game 1 against Columbus

--his absolutely unhuman lunging save on Erik Christiansen in Game 5 of the Anaheim series that prevented him from tying the game (and likely then winning it, given the momentum change that would have caused)

--his performance during every breakaway in the playoffs save Kane's tonight

--his general outstanding performance whenever facing any odd-man rush

Osgood has not stolen any games, for sure, but he has prevented many games from being close that would have been with almost any other playoff goalie.

Vic Ferrari said...

Malkin's ZoneShift went from remarkably bad under Therrien to decent under Bylsma. Sometimes the same message from a different guy helps, sooner or later there is a "hey, maybe is IS me" moment in there for everyone, even if you're Evgeny F. N. Malkin.

I would assume that Staal was playing the shift after Malkin for the most part, because his underlying numbers soared after the coaching change. Mostly because his Horcoffian +123 in faceoffs by zone (123 more in the defensive end of the rink than the good end) shifted to -8 after the coaching change. That's a hell of a swing.

And the swing in Corsi (-147 before, +105 after) follows that dramatic shift. Thinking people everywhere will agree that it is unlikely that Staal got suddenly better, and likely that Malkin became less of an ass. Though it hurt Malkin's own counting numbers at evens for sure.

Not ending your shifts with 'one last try at beating somebody one-on-one' will do that. But it helps the team.

I suspect that Malkin was pegging towards a ZoneShift in Kovalchuk country. Though I think that Kovalchuk suddenly made his team better, and himself less attractive to poolies, the minute they put a letter on his chest. Go figure with some guys.

Surely having Crosby and Gonchar healthier has helped too, but by mental arithmetic most of the gain in territorial advantage (which are of course reflected by the shot counts, not driven by them) seems to have come from the way that Malkin's shifts were ending.

Anonymous said...

One more comment about Osgood for clarification--his BIG strength is that he has been extremely consistent, and has not had any bad games except for one (the last one against Columbus). He hasn't had many absolutely jaw-dropping games (unless you count that shutout against Columbus), but he has simply been really good each and every time. He hasn't stolen any games (with the team he has in front of him, he doesn't need to), but like I said he has kept many games from being close that could have been. If he had been just a little above average, Columbus would not have been a sweep, Anaheim would have taken them out, and they would still be playing Chicago. Ozzy is nowhere near Hasek, but he is not "overrated" by any stretch either.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

I agree that if you had to pick one player as the reason for Pittsburgh turning into an outshooting team it would be Malkin. Behind the Net has Corsi ratings per 60 minutes for 5 on 5 for both this playoffs and last, and the biggest difference is Malkin's:

Malkin: -4.4 to +5.7
Crosby: -2.5 to +3.7
Staal: -6.7 to -4.9

Anonymous said...

Well, Ozzy was outstanding in Game 1. For the first time all playoffs, I actually think he stole the game. In every area but faceoffs, Pittsburgh either kept things even or dominated, and they definitely had more scoring chances.

Anonymous said...

Well it looks like all your statistical analysis is dead wrong. Go figure. It's funny cuz I though you stat nerds had the inside track on everything? Guess you guys and your analysis is really not much more valuable that anyone else's. After all, in the case of Osgood, all the people who said he'd come up big because of his WINS AND CUPS were right. I supposed another nonsensical Osgood bashing post is coming up soon though. And dont forget to bash Marty. Have not seen one of those comical posts in a while.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

"Well it looks like all your statistical analysis is dead wrong."

Really? Looks to me like I'm right dead on so far. Pittsburgh is matching Detroit in territorial play, shots and scoring chances. The aforementioned mediocre play of Fleury has risen to the forefront. Pittsburgh also has been on the wrong end of a few bounces that hasn't helped either.

"And dont forget to bash Marty. Have not seen one of those comical posts in a while."

Ah, yes. How'd all the people who said Marty would come up big because of his WINS AND CUPS do? A little lighter in the wallet, I imagine.

Yes, an Osgood post is coming shortly. And yes, you will almost certainly interpret it as an Osgood-bashing.

Anonymous said...

"Ah, yes. How'd all the people who said Marty would come up big because of his WINS AND CUPS do? A little lighter in the wallet, I imagine."

Last time I checked despite losing he still is among the leaders in the playoffs amongst goalies in terms of save percentage and GAA which is an indication that he did come up big during the playoffs, only to be let down by his team. Only one team can win it all.

"Really? Looks to me like I'm right dead on so far. Pittsburgh is matching Detroit in territorial play, shots and scoring chances. The aforementioned mediocre play of Fleury has risen to the forefront. Pittsburgh also has been on the wrong end of a few bounces that hasn't helped either."

Yes really. Essentially the same Detroit team as last year, plus Hossa minus Datsyuk, are in the exact same spot they were last year with almost identical results. Hardly an indication that Pittsburgh is "better". Unless of course this was another one of your "unprovable" theories in which you say something supposedly bold or against the grain, with the fall back of knowing that there is no way to be proven wrong. I.E. Pittsburgh wins, you claim you called it. They lose, then you dissect meaningless stats to say you are still right even though the end result is the same.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

Honestly, I can't fathom that somebody watched the first two games of both this year's Finals and last year's, and didn't conclude that Pittsburgh is a much better team. Detroit simply toyed with them last year.

Even if you only looked at the box scores, the difference is still obvious:

Goals:
2008: DET 7, PIT 0
2009: DET 6, PIT 2

Shots:
2008: DET 70, PIT 41
2009: DET 56, PIT 62

If you judge hockey games entirely based on how many goals were scored by each side, then fine, but you are ignoring the vital role of chance. Focusing on shots and scoring chances gives much more predictive ability - i.e. it is much more likely that Pittsburgh wins game 3 knowing that they outshot Detroit in the first 2 than if they were severely dominated. Sometimes the results don't match the play. Whether Pittsburgh gets swept or comes back to win in 6, the underlying results are quite clear that they are a much improved squad this time around.

"Last time I checked despite losing he still is among the leaders in the playoffs amongst goalies in terms of save percentage and GAA which is an indication that he did come up big during the playoffs, only to be let down by his team."

I agree with you that Brodeur mostly played pretty well, but as someone who watched the last 1:20 of game 7 I still find it pretty hard to conclude that his team let him down.

Anonymous said...

"I agree with you that Brodeur mostly played pretty well, but as someone who watched the last 1:20 of game 7 I still find it pretty hard to conclude that his team let him down."

Arent you also the one who says Cujo gets a bad wrap because people only focus on a few unfortunately small sample sizes rather than the larger body of work? The Devils were completely outplayed in games 4, 5, 6, and 7 of that series, Brodeur was pretty much the only reason the series went 7. Using the same logic you use in defense of some other goalies, had Brodeur given up the winning goal with 15 minutes left in the 3rd, no one blames him for the loss. But because of the odd timing of the 2 goals, now he gets bagged with undeserved blame in a series were both he and Cam Ward were dominant.

Anonymous said...

Canes vs. Devils 2009: Close series, could have gone either way, but I am inclined to agree with TCG that giving up two goals in the last minute of the game, when your team has the lead and basically is playing about as well as the opposing one, does mean you cost your team the series.

Now, I just wish The Contrarian would simply apply that same logic to Nucks vs. Hawks, when Luongo gave up THREE goals in the last seven minutes of a game that his team was leading, and had outshot the opposing team by 10 shots in.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

I'm not blaming Brodeur for the loss of the series. I just said it's kind of tough to say his team let him down. It isn't like Brodeur had no chance at all to win or was losing back-to-back 1-0 shutouts. Even after already giving the Canes a freebie in game 7, he just had to stop Jokinen's shot and the Devils were almost certainly in the next round.

Brodeur played well to get there, and he basically won one for his team in game 5 so in a sense he had one to give away. I think he should shoulder a lot of the blame for the game 7 loss, but for the series as a whole he and his team simply gave it a good shot and somebody had to lose.

Anonymous said...

"But because of the odd timing of the 2 goals, now he gets bagged with undeserved blame in a series were both he and Cam Ward were dominant."

The Canes were LOSING the game, and the shots that they were getting on net were of the "desperate" variety (i.e. not as good as when a team has the lead or is tied). It is a well-known fact that desperation (trailing) shots tend to be more peripheral and less dangerous, and that goaltenders are more able to hold it together in the waning minutes when their team has the lead than when it does not. Neither of the series-winning Canes goals were particularly lethal shots as has been pointed out amply. Brodeur just had a slump when his team needed him to hold it together the most. He didn't cost his team the series, but he did cost them the game.

But, like I said, I find it difficult to not argue that Luongo didn't do the same at least for games 2 and 6.

Anonymous said...

"The Canes were LOSING the game, and the shots that they were getting on net were of the "desperate" variety (i.e. not as good as when a team has the lead or is tied). It is a well-known fact that desperation (trailing) shots tend to be more peripheral and less dangerous, and that goaltenders are more able to hold it together in the waning minutes when their team has the lead than when it does not. Neither of the series-winning Canes goals were particularly lethal shots as has been pointed out amply. Brodeur just had a slump when his team needed him to hold it together the most. He didn't cost his team the series, but he did cost them the game."

Thats just faulty logic though. The cross ice one timer from Jokinen is by any means a high percentage shot. Because Brodeur almost managed to stop it, now people are actually trying to say it was a weak goal. Regardless of the situation, saying he cost them that game is ridiculous. Just as saying Luongo cost Vancouver in 2007 by letting in a weak goal by Neidermeyer is stupid, because both Luongo and Brodeur were the primary reasons there teams got as far as they did. For instance Henrik Lundqvist was a major reason the Rangers got to a game 7 against Washington this year. Yet using the logic you guys use here, because he had miserable games in games 5 and 6, he actually cost his team the series. It makes no sense.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

"Yet using the logic you guys use here, because he had miserable games in games 5 and 6, he actually cost his team the series. It makes no sense."

Nobody is saying Brodeur cost his team the series. We are saying he should get some blame for his play in game 7, but everyone agrees he did pretty well to help his team get there in the first place, especially in game 5.

I wouldn't go as far as saying either of the last two were weak goals, but they were certainly both stoppable. I'm sure Brodeur gets both of them more often than not. For a butterfly goalie Jokinen's shot isn't actually a particularly high percentage chance. I'd wager a large sum of money that Cam Ward would have made that save easily if he faced exactly the same shot.

Anonymous said...

"Thats just faulty logic though. The cross ice one timer from Jokinen is by any means a high percentage shot. Because Brodeur almost managed to stop it, now people are actually trying to say it was a weak goal. Regardless of the situation, saying he cost them that game is ridiculous."

It wasn't an outright softie but it was stoppable, particularly by an above-average goaltender, and "almost" isn't good enough. He was perfectly capable of stopping both shots--he just had an off moment in the waning minutes of this game. He and Cam Ward were very evenly matched, and their respective teams were very evenly matched too. This was a real "coin toss" series that could have gone either way; someone had to win and someone had to lose. It sucks for Brodeur that he had a bit of a brain fart for the last minute of this last game, but that's life.

"Just as saying Luongo cost Vancouver in 2007 by letting in a weak goal by Neidermeyer is stupid, because both Luongo and Brodeur were the primary reasons there teams got as far as they did."

Luongo did not cost the Nucks that series--they were severely overmatched by the Ducks, but he did cost them that one goal, and therefore that game. The Devils' strong defense is a big reason they made it to Game 7 of the first round of this year's playoffs, unless you want to argue that Scott Clemmensen is a superhuman netminder also.

"For instance Henrik Lundqvist was a major reason the Rangers got to a game 7 against Washington this year. Yet using the logic you guys use here, because he had miserable games in games 5 and 6, he actually cost his team the series. It makes no sense."

Contrarian never said Lundqvist cost his team the Washington series. He stood on his head for much of the series and was completely overwhelmed by one of the best teams in the NHL. The Rangers are absolute crap and without Lundqvist would have finished 14th or 15th in the conference.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

I'm actually struggling to think of a single example of what I would consider to be a goalie costing his team a series over the last few playoff seasons. I'm not even sure there is a single goalie that you can make the argument for this year - maybe Kiprusoff against Chicago, but I don't think I'd agree. Fleury almost pulled it off against the Caps but his team came through for him in the end.

Last year you have Carey Price against Philly, and that's probably it, and in 2007 things went pretty much as predicted right down the line. There might be a few candidates in 2006 (Legace, Emery, Turco, Lundqvist), but we're still talking about a rare event, something that might have happened at most a handful of times in 60 series since the lockout.

Anonymous said...

"Contrarian never said Lundqvist cost his team the Washington series. He stood on his head for much of the series and was completely overwhelmed by one of the best teams in the NHL. The Rangers are absolute crap and without Lundqvist would have finished 14th or 15th in the conference."

No I am just using the same line of logic. If Brodeur cost his team the game for letting in 2 goals in 1:20, then what does that say about a guy who had the chance to advance to the next round 3 TIMES! and in those 3 games gives up 11 goals on 56 shots?

And I also though we were past the whole "player x" is the only reason team y did not finish last. The Rangers were one of the strongest defensive teams this year. They would have been right around were they finished anyway, maybe a 10th place or so without Lundqvist, because for the most part, he was pretty average this season. Those shot quality numbers that are always used on this site actually seem to suggest he was slightly worse than average this year once MSG scorekeeping is corrected.

Anonymous said...

"I'm actually struggling to think of a single example of what I would consider to be a goalie costing his team a series over the last few playoff seasons."

That is why the examples I cited in the other post came earlier: Vernon in 1995, Brodeur in 2001, and Lalime in 2003.

"I'm not even sure there is a single goalie that you can make the argument for this year - maybe Kiprusoff against Chicago, but I don't think I'd agree."

Quite possibly him. Quite definitely Kiprusoff against the Sharks last year ('08). The Flames should have won that series no doubt about it.

"Last year you have Carey Price against Philly, and that's probably it, and in 2007 things went pretty much as predicted right down the line. There might be a few candidates in 2006 (Legace, Emery, Turco, Lundqvist)"

I agree with you on '07. In '08 and '06, the common thread running is that three of the five underperforming tenders mentioned (Lundqvist, Price, and Emery) were rookies during those series who did not handle the pressure well. Ryan Miller was not so great either actually, albeit the Sabres were done in by injury much more than they were him. Turco is a bit of an outlier; he had a sub-mediocre regular season too, so he didn't really "cost" Dallas the series against Colorado, because he sucked all that year to begin with.

"If Brodeur cost his team the game for letting in 2 goals in 1:20, then what does that say about a guy who had the chance to advance to the next round 3 TIMES! and in those 3 games gives up 11 goals"

The only series that Lundquist really "blew" was the Devils one, and as a rookie we can give him a break there. He was quite outmatched by the Sabres, Penguins, and Caps. Can you name for me ONE series Brodeur has "stolen" besides the Rangers series in '06?

Anonymous said...

By the way, how do any of you think Brodeur would have done against the Penguins? That is food for thought!

Anonymous said...

"The only series that Lundquist really "blew" was the Devils one, and as a rookie we can give him a break there. He was quite outmatched by the Sabres, Penguins, and Caps. Can you name for me ONE series Brodeur has "stolen" besides the Rangers series in '06?"

While we can argue what exactly the definition of stealing a series is, I'll say I consider it to be when the difference between what one player/goalie does and what the average player goalie does changes the outcome of a series. With that said 93-94 against Buffalo was easily a series Brodeur stole, as was the case in 95 against Boston, 2000 Conference Finals against Philadelphia, and the 2003 SCF when Brodeur was incredible posting 4 regulation shutouts.

Anonymous said...

2003 SCFs? ROTFLMAO! You've gotta be kidding me! Stevens, Nieds, and Rafi strangled the Ducks! You're gonna tell me that shutting out the opponent in a 30-14 game is stand-on-head goaltending domination?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
2003 SCFs? ROTFLMAO! You've gotta be kidding me! Stevens, Nieds, and Rafi strangled the Ducks! You're gonna tell me that shutting out the opponent in a 30-14 game is stand-on-head goaltending domination?
.....

Apparently you did not watch those Finals, nor have you even bothered to read about them. NHL.com actually just ranked it the 3rd best Finals performance of all time. Posting 4 regulation shutouts in a 7 game series certainly qualifies as stealing a series. Also notice how you asked me to name ONE example, and I gave you a handful, yet all you do is challenge one of them.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

Anonymous: You're one round off in 2003. For my money, the best performance of Brodeur's career was in the Eastern Conference Finals that year against Ottawa. He stole that series.

As for Buffalo in 1994, Brodeur wasn't even as good as Hasek in that series, seems to me a stretch to credit the second best goalie in a series with stealing it.

"Posting 4 regulation shutouts in a 7 game series certainly qualifies as stealing a series."

No it doesn't. It qualifies as "Playing behind a dominant defensive team against a team carried by their goaltender." Brodeur was good, sure, but that NHL.com ranking is flat-out wrong.

Anonymous said...

Newsflash Anonymous, the Ducks only outshot the Devils in ONE of those seven games, and it was by only two shots. In three of the games, the shot ratio was not close. New Jersey got the matchups it needed on home ice, and their vast defensive and shot-quality mismatch took over from there. I don't think Brodeur was genuinely tested by Anaheim in '03 even as much as Ozzy was by Nashville last year, and yet the Ducks took it to seven.

I don't think getting lit up for five goals on 22 shots (Game 6), especially when your team has been dominant all game long and the opposing team is so much weaker, counts as a "steal" by any means.

Anonymous said...

Outshooting the opponent is clearly an overrated way of trying to tell which team was better. According to CG's Pittsburgh showed they were a better team than Detroit in games 1 and 2 because they outshot and outchanced them, but guess what? They lost both those games. Then in games 3 and 4 Detroit outshot Pittsburgh yet lost both games.

I also still do not see the point for which you are trying to argue??? You asked me to name ONE series Brodeur stole, and I named a bunch. So I did what you asked, so even if you disagree with ONE of them, your argument is irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

"Then in games 3 and 4 Detroit outshot Pittsburgh yet lost both games."

Look at the scoring chances. What matters much more than shooting is the QUALITY of shots. Orpik, Letang, etc. were able to keep many Detroit shots very peripheral in the last game. In scoring chances Pitts and Detroit were extremely even in games 3 and 4--in fact, Pittsburgh may have narrowly outchanced them. Ozzy stood on his head the first two games, and now he is coming to earth, and Fleury is stepping it up, so Pittsburgh was able to tie the series.

The Ducks had some decent D in Salei, Bylsma, and Havelid, but nobody remotely close to the Niedermayer/Stevens/Rafalski class. I can promise you that the numbers show that the average shot facing Giguere all throughout that series was much stronger than the average shot facing Brodeur.

"You asked me to name ONE series Brodeur stole, and I named a bunch."

None of the series you listed were stolen by Brodeur--not one. In recent years there is arguably only one, the '06 Rangers series. Even in Brodeur's HEYDAY there is only one, the Ottawa series in '03. Both of those series wins had a lot to do with goaltending meltdowns on the other side of the ice, and in the case of the '03 series, Ottawa still managed to take it to seven games.

Anonymous said...

None of the series you listed were stolen by Brodeur--not one. In recent years there is arguably only one, the '06 Rangers series. Even in Brodeur's HEYDAY there is only one, the Ottawa series in '03. Both of those series wins had a lot to do with goaltending meltdowns on the other side of the ice, and in the case of the '03 series, Ottawa still managed to take it to seven games.

..........

So I guess he had nothing to do with NJ coming back from 3-1 down against Philly? You sound ridiculous. When Brodeur performed well, your excuse is that it was easy and anyone could have done it. And for the record, Ottawa took it to 7 games in 03 because they were a better team than NJ. They were easily regarded as the best team in hockey. You still are not really proving anything with what you are trying to argue. What is your point?

Anonymous said...

"So I guess he had nothing to do with NJ coming back from 3-1 down against Philly? You sound ridiculous."

NJ was a far-superior defensive team to Philly, was seeded above them, had a stronger record, and was expected to win. An above-average goaltender like Brodeur should have more comeback ability than an average one like Esche. It's common sense. It doesn't mean Brodeur took that series, it means he AND the better defense in front of him were more resilient than the Flyers.

"And for the record, Ottawa took it to 7 games in 03 because they were a better team than NJ."

Better offensively. I wouldn't say they were better defensively, and Lalime had a major meltdown to boot. The gap between the two squads was slight--we are talking the difference between the first and second seeds, not the first and seventh.

"You still are not really proving anything with what you are trying to argue. What is your point?"

Tell me how many cups Brodeur would have won on the Panthers, and tell me how many cups he has won on the good, but not elite, post-lockout Devils teams.

Anonymous said...

"Tell me how many cups Brodeur would have won on the Panthers, and tell me how many cups he has won on the good, but not elite, post-lockout Devils teams"

You re telling me that you ve wasted this much time trying to prove that 1) its Brodeurs fault the Devils were an above average team and therefore he should not receive credit for playing well? and 2) that bad teams NEVER win the Stanley Cup? The first part makes absolutely no sense because great teams have always had great players, and the second part is just stupid because its not like anybody was arguing that players on shitty teams do a lot of winning.

Anonymous said...

Dude, calm down. I am not saying Brodeur is a crap goaltender (in fact, over the past three seasons or so, I would call him one of the more elite tenders in the league), just that he is not the best that there ever was, and could not have had his success on a mediocre or merely somewhat good team. Brodeur has been at his best since the lockout, but it has not been enough on Devils teams that have been gutted of their big-ticket defensive talent.

"and 2) that bad teams NEVER win the Stanley Cup?"

Actually, this is absolutely true. If I am not mistaken no team that is worse than a third seed, at least in modern times, has taken it all. No team has won the Cup based on stand-on-head goaltending alone. Hasek and Giggy, probably the two finest goaltenders who have lived, ALMOST did it, but both had to wait until they got on excellent teams to take home Lord Stanley.

Anonymous said...

"Actually, this is absolutely true. If I am not mistaken no team that is worse than a third seed, at least in modern times, has taken it all. No team has won the Cup based on stand-on-head goaltending alone. Hasek and Giggy, probably the two finest goaltenders who have lived, ALMOST did it, but both had to wait until they got on excellent teams to take home Lord Stanley."

Sure Giguere, Roloson and Hasek almost did it. But it is not exactly like they played for teams full of scrubs. In fact one of the more ridiculous things this site promotes is the misconception that Hasek carried a garbage Sabres team for years. The Buffalo team Hasek played for was an perennial playoff team even before the arrival of Hasek. Probably comparable to the current NJ team. Not exactly elite, generally lacking big names but filled with very good role 2 way role players and defensively underrated guys; far from a bottom feeder. And, just like with recent NJ teams, Buffalo never really made big runs outside of 1 season.

Now while Hasek certainly can be called one of the best, Gigeure on the other hand can not be. he had 1 great run, and otherwise never won a Vezina, and really was only successful for about 4 or 5 years. Pretty much the definition of the modern day Michelin man, he has also had an elite defensive team in front of him for a while, as did Hasek when he finally won. So again, how can it be a knock on Brodeur that he happened to win earlier in his career on a good team, when even the guys supposedly better than him only managed to do so when playing on elite teams.

And for the record, in 1995 NJ was a 5 seed and won it all and 9th overall in the NHL. Far from an elite team, and was literally carried by Brodeur and Claude Lemieux. To date the lowest seed to ever win it all. At the time they were considered a very average team. Yet it is funny how over time this team has evolved into a powerhouse, and been portrayed by people like CG as much different than they actually were. Sure both the 2000 and 2003 teams were dominant, but 1995's team was far from it.

Anonymous said...

"The Buffalo team Hasek played for was an perennial playoff team even before the arrival of Hasek. Probably comparable to the current NJ team."

Really, are you claiming that the '90s Sabres teams repeatedly finished with a second or third seeding? The WORST that the Devils have finished post-lockout was 4th (2008). These teams are no longer elite, but they are pretty darn good compared to league average, especially defensively. You really think that the sixth-or-seventh-seeded Sabres were equal to that? Hasek in the '90s or pre-lockout Giguere would have killed for the Devils of today playing in front of them.

"but filled with very good role 2 way role players and defensively underrated guys; far from a bottom feeder."

That's like saying that the current Thrashers team is elite because they have Kovalchuk, Little, and Ron Hainsey. Every team has a few very good players.

"And, just like with recent NJ teams, Buffalo never really made big runs outside of 1 season."

You don't call making the conference finals in 1997 big? Last time I checked, the Devils didn't make it out of the second round ONCE post-lockout, and were on the decline before it, actually.

"Gigeure on the other hand can not be. he had 1 great run, and otherwise never won a Vezina, and really was only successful for about 4 or 5 years."

You have no idea what you are talking about. This was his first bad year yet, and he still finished okay (.900), or almost exactly the same as Brodeur in '95. Brodeur has had worse years than that. Giguere made TWO great runs, was hampered by injury once, and had only one truly lousy postseason ('08). So, once again, you are proven wrong.

"Pretty much the definition of the modern day Michelin man"

Very convenient argument for you to use. He's not really elite because you think his equipment is too big. Yeah, whatever.

"he has also had an elite defensive team in front of him for a while"

You mean one year?

"And for the record, in 1995 NJ was a 5 seed and won it all and 9th overall in the NHL."

That's why I said "in the modern era". As you yourself said this is the only time that has happened.

"Far from an elite team, and was literally carried by Brodeur and Claude Lemieux."

And Scott Niedermayer, and Scott Stevens, and Ken Danyeko, and others. Actually, if you would have bothered to browse through this blog before talking out of your anus, you'd have seen TCG point out that the main reason the Devils took this series was Mike Vernon's hideous .840 save percentage that year.

"Sure both the 2000 and 2003 teams were dominant, but 1995's team was far from it."

The Devils teams in every year between 1999 and 2003 were as elite as it gets. That's five years, and your uber-goalie Brodeur carried them to exactly two cups for that span. Why was he not able to "singlehandedly" win the Devils the cup every one of those years? I can promise you that Hasek and Giguere in their prime would have gotten at least four cups in those five years if they played for those NJ teams.

Anonymous said...

"And Scott Niedermayer, and Scott Stevens, and Ken Danyeko, and others. Actually, if you would have bothered to browse through this blog before talking out of your anus, you'd have seen TCG point out that the main reason the Devils took this series was Mike Vernon's hideous .840 save percentage that year."

Not exactly. Stevens was an All Star but those others guys at the time were hardly regarded as difference makers the way they are now. Neidermeyer was often seen as an inexperienced as defensively sloppy 2nd year guy who definitely didnt get top pairing minutes. At that time there was nobody on the team who was seen as dominant. Years later, sure its easy to recall names, but they were not elite players at the time with the exception of Stevens. That would be like having Ryan Getlaf and Corey Perry miraculously turning into Wayne Gretzky/Mario Lemieux caliber players 3 years from now and then in hind site saying how the 2007 Ducks team was one of the best ever.


"The Devils teams in every year between 1999 and 2003 were as elite as it gets. That's five years, and your uber-goalie Brodeur carried them to exactly two cups for that span. Why was he not able to "singlehandedly" win the Devils the cup every one of those years? I can promise you that Hasek and Giguere in their prime would have gotten at least four cups in those five years if they played for those NJ teams."

Its easy to make guarantees that have no way of being proven. Giguere could not even get a starting job this year. It amazes me you think so highly of a guy who as I have said, has been good for what? 5 years?
Hasek had to hop aboard a team made up of HOFers to get his cup, and then rode the pine behind a mediocre Chris Osgood. Again, I dont care how good he was for 6 or 7 years, he was lousy later in his career and had to hang around longer than he should of to get his extra hardware.

"You have no idea what you are talking about. This was his first bad year yet, and he still finished okay (.900), or almost exactly the same as Brodeur in '95. Brodeur has had worse years than that. Giguere made TWO great runs, was hampered by injury once, and had only one truly lousy postseason ('08). So, once again, you are proven wrong."

.900 is ok? Brodeur never had a save percentage that bad. Especially once you factor in the league average save percentage, Giguere was well below average this year. You have to suck pretty bad to lose your job to an unproven rookie EVEN after winning a CUP and Conn Smythe for your team.

"You don't call making the conference finals in 1997 big? Last time I checked, the Devils didn't make it out of the second round ONCE post-lockout, and were on the decline before it, actually."

So again, subtract everything Brodeur has ALREADY accomplished, and just look at everything that has happened since the last time he won a cup? Nobody wins it every year. In fact not many win more than one or two. Yet for some reason you expect him to do it once every few years?

"That's like saying that the current Thrashers team is elite because they have Kovalchuk, Little, and Ron Hainsey. Every team has a few very good players."

Not at all. Had the Thrashers been making the playoffs every year, then the example fits. Buffalo made the postseason 5 years in a row before Hasek played there.

Anonymous said...

"Neidermeyer was often seen as an inexperienced as defensively sloppy 2nd year guy who definitely didnt get top pairing minutes."

What a non-argument. They weren't elite players because you say they weren't at that age. Very logical.

"That would be like having Ryan Getlaf and Corey Perry miraculously turning into Wayne Gretzky/Mario Lemieux caliber players 3 years from now and then in hind site saying how the 2007 Ducks team was one of the best ever."

Guess what. If I remember right in '07 Getzlaf had 25 goals and 71 points. He and Perry were second and third in playoff goals after McDonald. This year Getzy scored 24 goals/91 points and Perry had his best year ever with 33 goals. If that is not elite performance, I don't know what is.

"Giguere could not even get a starting job this year. It amazes me you think so highly of a guy who as I have said, has been good for what? 5 years?"

Let me repeat, he had ONE mediocre year, his first yet as a starter (going back to 2000-2001), which is far more than "five" years.

"Again, I dont care how good he was for 6 or 7 years, he was lousy later in his career and had to hang around longer than he should of to get his extra hardware."

Hasek was lousy exactly ONE year as well, last season, at the age of 43, which is why he retired. Are you telling me your god Brodeur is not going to get old someday?

".900 is ok? Brodeur never had a save percentage that bad."

Check his stats for '94-95.

"Especially once you factor in the league average save percentage, Giguere was well below average this year."

I didn't defend him; I agreed that he had a bad year, which so far is an anomaly.

"So again, subtract everything Brodeur has ALREADY accomplished, and just look at everything that has happened since the last time he won a cup? Nobody wins it every year. In fact not many win more than one or two. Yet for some reason you expect him to do it once every few years?"

Listen to the circularity of your own argument. It's not fair to expect Brodeur to win the Cup every year or even every few years (even when his team was the 1st or 2nd seed in the entire NHL for five years in a row, and when his SCF opponent was missing its best player), but Hasek and Giggy are worthless because they didn't win the Cup until they were on equally elite teams. Consistency is not your greatest debating strength.

"Buffalo made the postseason 5 years in a row before Hasek played there."

What was their seeding then and how far did they go?

Anonymous said...

The Devils teams in every year between 1999 and 2003 were as elite as it gets. That's five years, and your uber-goalie Brodeur carried them to exactly two cups for that span. Why was he not able to "singlehandedly" win the Devils the cup every one of those years? I can promise you that Hasek and Giguere in their prime would have gotten at least four cups in those five years if they played for those NJ teams.

........................

That is downright ignorant. People like the one who writes this blog completely underrate how important Brodeur was to that system. Everyone always points at Stevens, Neidermeyer, and Daneyko, but Brodeur was just as important to the success of those guys as they were to him.

Admittedly I did not watch Brodeur play all the time back in the 90's and early 2000's but did see enough of him to determine that I have never in the 40 something years I've watched hockey seen a goalie as efficient in playing the puck as him. It was incredible. No one before him even comes close, and even the ones who came after were not nearly as effective. The entire reason the NJ Devils system worked so effectively, is because they essentially had a 3rd defenseman back there. So when you have a group of rugged and overly physical defenseman and a goalie who plays the puck better than some defenseman it completely changes the game plan.

When playing the trap, the opposing team has two ways to beat it. Either skate through everyone, or dump and chase. Having a goalie that took away the dump and chase game gave the opposition only one option; skate through the the neutral zone. However the major thing Brodeur's puck handling ability did, was it allowed the defenseman to hold the blueline because they did not having to worry about chasing it down and breaking out. Thus the effectiveness of Stevens and Daneyko holding the blueline and laying out huge hits was largely influenced by the fact that Brodeur was back there to take care of a potential forecheck.

Its easy and quite ignorant to assume that other goalies could have just been plugged in and the system would have worked as effectively. Hasek was a terrible puckhandler, and Gigeure never left the crease. The only other goalie who possibly could have played that system to the same effectiveness was Belfour.

Anonymous said...

What a non-argument. They weren't elite players because you say they weren't at that age. Very logical.

.........

Neidermeyer was hardly a household name up until maybe 97-98. Maybe you are not familiar with the fact that players develop with age. Jonathan Ericsson may go on to have a hall of fame career. Thats still does not mean he was a major component of this years Detroit team. Hind site is 20/20.


Guess what. If I remember right in '07 Getzlaf had 25 goals and 71 points. He and Perry were second and third in playoff goals after McDonald. This year Getzy scored 24 goals/91 points and Perry had his best year ever with 33 goals. If that is not elite performance, I don't know what is.

.........

Read above. Lets assume each hypothetically goes on to post numerous 150+ point seasons. That still does not mean they were that caliber of player back in 07. You are arguing the wrong point.

"Giguere could not even get a starting job this year. It amazes me you think so highly of a guy who as I have said, has been good for what? 5 years?"

Let me repeat, he had ONE mediocre year, his first yet as a starter (going back to 2000-2001), which is far more than "five" years.

.................

No, he had that year and then this year. 6 in between with an average year in 05-06, lets not split hairs here.


".900 is ok? Brodeur never had a save percentage that bad."

Check his stats for '94-95.

........

His save percentage was .902, and league average was .895. Thats almost a full point above average, compared to Giguere this year at .900 when the league average was .905. Are you really still arguing this?

Listen to the circularity of your own argument. It's not fair to expect Brodeur to win the Cup every year or even every few years (even when his team was the 1st or 2nd seed in the entire NHL for five years in a row, and when his SCF opponent was missing its best player), but Hasek and Giggy are worthless because they didn't win the Cup until they were on equally elite teams. Consistency is not your greatest debating strength.

............

Not at all. Your argument seems based on saying Brodeur has not won a cup since the lockout. Thats 4 years. Or even better, that he only won 2 in a five year span!? Giguere definitely was elite. He took his team to 2 finals in 4 seasons. That does not make a career though, which is what you seem intent on arguing. Hasek only one 1 cup while starting. Thats was on a team made up of hall of famers. Far superior to any team Brodeur or Gigeure was on.


What was their seeding then and how far did they go?

...............

That is irrelevant. That is not the point. No one will argue that the Sabres were a better team with Hasek. However you and CG seem to portray those Sabres teams as scrubs who were carried by Hasek, when the truth is they were already a decent team before we played there.

overpass said...

However you and CG seem to portray those Sabres teams as scrubs who were carried by Hasek, when the truth is they were already a decent team before we played there.

Those Sabres teams were not scrubs before Hasek came. They were a skilled, high-scoring team led by Pat Lafontaine, Alexander Mogilny, and Dale Hawerchuk. The year before Hasek became the starter in Buffalo, the Sabres were two games above .500. Lafontaine scored 148 points and Mogilny scored 76 goals.

The following year, Lafontaine missed most of the season and scored 130 fewer points. Mogilny scored 44 fewer goals. Dave Andreychuk had left to Toronto. And the Sabres improved by 9 points, because they allowed 79 fewer goals with Hasek in goal.

Hawerchuk and Mogilny each left a year later, and Lafontaine would only have one more healthy season. Their replacements as Buffalo's top scorers? Derek Plante, Donald Audette and Jason Dawe. Later Miroslav Satan and Mike Peca were the top forwards. There are some decent players in there, but a decent team doesn't have them as their best forwards. Not quite "scrubs", but not a playoff team and certainly not a Cup contender without their goalie.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

"However you and CG seem to portray those Sabres teams as scrubs who were carried by Hasek, when the truth is they were already a decent team before we played there."

Sure. Nobody ever said the 1993-94 Buffalo Sabres were scrubs. But the downhill slide is obvious throughout the 1990s as they let all their talent walk away. When I talk about the Sabres being carried by Hasek, I mean the 1997-1999 squads.

By the way, just wanted to point out an inconsistency in your argument. The Buffalo Sabres were the #8 seed in 1992-93, therefore Hasek's teams weren't scrubs because they were a playoff team before he got there. However, the 1993-94 New Jersey Devils had the second best record in the NHL, and took the President's Trophy winners and eventual Stanley Cup champs to game 7 in the Conference Final, and yet the 1994-95 team was a surprise team that came out of nowhere? Really?

"Its easy and quite ignorant to assume that other goalies could have just been plugged in and the system would have worked as effectively. Hasek was a terrible puckhandler, and Gigeure never left the crease. The only other goalie who possibly could have played that system to the same effectiveness was Belfour."

I'll respond to this the way I've always responded to it: Where's the evidence? There is precious little numerical evidence that supports the theory that puckhandling is so incredibly important for a hockey team. The two most important pieces of evidence being New Jersey's ability to carry right on with their backups in there and Jacques Lemaire's ability to duplicate an excellent defensive team in Minnesota without a Brodeur-calibre puckhandler in net.

In my view it's one of those logical things that sounds good, but doesn't have a large effect at the end of the day. Other teams simply have their defencemen go get the puck instead of the goalie, it's not as easy to do it but the results aren't all that different.

If Hasek was playing in New Jersey, he wouldn't have been able to handle the puck as well. But he would have made the first save a lot more often than Brodeur did, and so his team would be better off.

Anonymous said...

"Hasek only one 1 cup while starting. Thats was on a team made up of hall of famers. Far superior to any team Brodeur or Gigeure was on."

Ummm, excuse me? The '01 Devils, which scored about 50 goals more than the '02 Wings and 40 more than the '07 Ducks, and was defensively tighter than both, was not as good as the '02 Wings? Are you for real?

Anonymous said...

"I'll respond to this the way I've always responded to it: Where's the evidence? There is precious little numerical evidence that supports the theory that puckhandling is so incredibly important for a hockey team. The two most important pieces of evidence being New Jersey's ability to carry right on with their backups in there and Jacques Lemaire's ability to duplicate an excellent defensive team in Minnesota without a Brodeur-calibre puckhandler in net."

Thats wrong. It all depends on the system that is played. If you do not have talented enugh pieces to play a system, then you either do not play that system, or fail miserably attempting to do it. Just because you can not find "statistical proof" does not mean a puckplaying goaltender was not necessary for the NJ system to be effective. The proof is in the fact that they won as much as they did. By your logic that is like saying a team does not need talented forwards to play a run and gun type game.


"Ummm, excuse me? The '01 Devils, which scored about 50 goals more than the '02 Wings and 40 more than the '07 Ducks, and was defensively tighter than both, was not as good as the '02 Wings? Are you for real?"

I am sorry but you obviously have no idea what you are talking about. Who was on that NJ team? Stevens, Neidermayer, Brodeur, Elias, Sykora and Arnott. Not bad, but you are delusional if you think that is a better team than Yzerman, Federov, Hull, Robataille, Hasek, Shanahan, Lidstrom, Larianov, Chelios, Datsyuk, etc. Get real.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

"The proof is in the fact that they won as much as they did. By your logic that is like saying a team does not need talented forwards to play a run and gun type game."

Of course not. Forwards are the ones doing the scoring. Goalies are not the ones primarily responsible for preventing shots. Somewhere the Martin Brodeur hype train has resulted in people thinking that he prevents huge amounts of shots against.

I don't deny that the goalie has some effect, something on the order of a shot against or two per game, but to claim it would have been impossible for the Devils to play the way they did is crazy. A team with terrific two-way forwards and outstanding defencemen just can't prevent the other team from scoring unless their goalie handles the puck? I highly doubt it.

Again, Jacques Lemaire took over an expansion team with less talent and goalies that were worse than Brodeur both overall and playing the puck, and within a few years built them into a team that was pretty much dead even with the Devils in defensive play. How did he manage that?

Re: 2001 Devils vs. 2002 Wings:

I'd probably take the 2002 Wings if I had to choose one team, but the main reason I would do so is that I get Hasek over Brodeur. If it was just down to the skaters, I'd rather have the Devils.

I've actually been meaning to post on this for a while, maybe I'll throw something up as it could be an interesting discussion. People who evaluate hockey teams by names instead of actual play might learn a thing or two.

Anonymous said...

"The proof is in the fact that they won as much as they did. By your logic that is like saying a team does not need talented forwards to play a run and gun type game."

They won as much as they did because they were excellent teams for about five years in a row, as well as some in the mid-90s. The Cup would have been NJ's in '94 as well, but Richter just outplayed him.

Hasek and Giggy were/are both abysmal puckhandlers, but each very nearly won Cups by themselves, and then won the first year that they were on good teams (albeit teams that were not as good as NJ during their heyday).

"Yzerman, Federov, Hull, Robataille, Hasek, Shanahan, Lidstrom, Larianov, Chelios, Datsyuk, etc. Get real."

What is Rafi? Chopped liver? Datsyuk was a young and unestablished player (to apply the logic you do towards the mid-'90s Niedermayer) and Chelios and Hull were well past their prime.

Anonymous said...

"The Cup would have been NJ's in '94 as well, but Richter just outplayed him."

Really? You are probably the only person I've ever heard who thinks that. The Rangers won because they were a superior team. The Rangers won the regular season series 6-0. Brodeur was the only reason that series was close as there were several games that the Rangers absolutely dominated but were not able to score much. Richter had it fairly easy behind that team, and is only really remembered for playing well because every now and again he'd make some highlight reel save that stuck in peoples minds. Richter is probably one of the most overrated goalies from the 90's primarily because he played in New York. Every goalie who plays in New York always gets ridiculously hyped. Heck Al Montoya never even played there but was supposedly the next Patrick Roy according to those duds.

"What is Rafi? Chopped liver? Datsyuk was a young and unestablished player (to apply the logic you do towards the mid-'90s Niedermayer) and Chelios and Hull were well past their prime."

Rafalski was terrible defensively early in his career. Even now he is still pretty overrated and mainly gets hyped because of his offensive ability.

Anonymous said...

"Richter is probably one of the most overrated goalies from the 90's primarily because he played in New York. Every goalie who plays in New York always gets ridiculously hyped."

Don't think I have ever seen that one before (the "all goalies that play for the Rangers are overrated" line). LOL.

NYR had better OFFENSE but they certainly did not have better D; by 2004 the trap was already well-established and had proven itself to be a formidable force. The Devils led the series but Brodeur couldn't finish the Rangers off.

No comment for the Rafalski comment except that it's nice to see you supporting the members of your own team ... but I will add that a +36 rating for 2001 (his career-best, btw) and +10 playoff rating (second-best) speak for themselves...

Anonymous said...

Correction, I meant 1994, of course.

Anonymous said...

"NYR had better OFFENSE but they certainly did not have better D; by 2004 the trap was already well-established and had proven itself to be a formidable force. The Devils led the series but Brodeur couldn't finish the Rangers off. "

Really? Leetch, Zubov, Beukeboom and Lowe certainly were not far off from Stevens, Driver, Daneyko and Neidermayer, and at that point in time were probably better. Brodeur did not have the best of games in game 6 giving up 3 goals, but to put blame on the guy for giving up 1 goal on 40 something shots in a game 7 were he only got 1 goal from the offense shows you have an obvious bias. Richter hardly outplayed him for the series, he, like Osgood was simply good enough to get by. No slight on Richter cuz he got the job done, but it was hardly his goaltending that put the Rangers over the top.

"No comment for the Rafalski comment except that it's nice to see you supporting the members of your own team ... but I will add that a +36 rating for 2001 (his career-best, btw) and +10 playoff rating (second-best) speak for themselves..."

Supporting members of my team? I am neither a Wings fan or a Devils fan, I am just stating an observation I've made when I see him play. 2001, of course he had a high plus minus, the Devils were a top notch offensive team. Thomas Vanek was a +47 in 06-07, yet he is hardly a responsible defensive player.

"Don't think I have ever seen that one before (the "all goalies that play for the Rangers are overrated" line). LOL."

Ever heard of a guy named Rick Dipietro? How about Dan Blackburn? Now its Lundqvist, especially with MSG taking personal responsibility for hiking up his save percentage on anything near the net. Same type of thing happens in Montreal. Every young goalie they get is the next big thing. And all the fans and media refuse to believe anything else until they literally crash and burn. Check Jose Theodore. But every now and again there comes a guy like Richter, or now Lundqvist, who was/is good enough to hang around for a few years, and in the process becomes a "legend". If a guy has ben around over ten years and does not have a Vezina, or at the minimum several years with lots of votes, he has no business being called anything other than average.

Anonymous said...

"but to put blame on the guy for giving up 1 goal on 40 something shots in a game 7 were he only got 1 goal from the offense shows you have an obvious bias."

One good game does not make a good series, clearly you can understand that.

"Leetch, Zubov, Beukeboom and Lowe certainly were not far off from Stevens, Driver, Daneyko and Neidermayer, and at that point in time were probably better."

Uh, says whom?

"Thomas Vanek was a +47 in 06-07, yet he is hardly a responsible defensive player."

That actually is false. The '07 Sabres were an extremely sound defensive team, allowing something like the third easiest shot-quality in the league against Miller. You can't be an effective run-and-gun team without good defense and steady puck possession; teams that try to be such generally do not do so well (a good example would be the '99-03 Oilers).

"Ever heard of a guy named Rick Dipietro? How about Dan Blackburn?"

Don't know much about Blackburn but last time I checked, DiPietro plays for the ISLANDERS, not the Rangers, and is actually very effective when not injured.

"or now Lundqvist, who was/is good enough to hang around for a few years, and in the process becomes a "legend""

Did you not watch any of his games against Washington this year? Without his performance, NYR would have been swept and humiliatingly so.

Anonymous said...

"One good game does not make a good series, clearly you can understand that."

And you are seriously arguing that Brodeur was only good in game 7 of that series?!?! That is almost as ludicrous as saying Richter outplayed him.

""Leetch, Zubov, Beukeboom and Lowe certainly were not far off from Stevens, Driver, Daneyko and Neidermayer, and at that point in time were probably better."

Uh, says whom?"

Who exactly would you like to say it? And how would that solve anything? Either way its not as though the Devils were leagues better as you made it out be. The Rangers were significantly better on offense, and comparable on defence. Goaltending was NJ's only edge, and turned out to be the only reason they did not get swept.

""Thomas Vanek was a +47 in 06-07, yet he is hardly a responsible defensive player."

That actually is false. The '07 Sabres were an extremely sound defensive team, allowing something like the third easiest shot-quality in the league against Miller. You can't be an effective run-and-gun team without good defense and steady puck possession; teams that try to be such generally do not do so well (a good example would be the '99-03 Oilers)."

Uhm, so what. Talking about how the Sabres as a team were defensively responsible has nothing to do with Thomas Vanek, who is known for being lazy in the defensive zone.

""Ever heard of a guy named Rick Dipietro? How about Dan Blackburn?"

Don't know much about Blackburn but last time I checked, DiPietro plays for the ISLANDERS, not the Rangers, and is actually very effective when not injured."

Dipietro plays for the Islanders... no shit. I never said he didnt.

"Did you not watch any of his games against Washington this year? Without his performance, NYR would have been swept and humiliatingly so."

Yes I did. Any while he did play well early in the series, he was once again the beneficiary of a combination of things, ranging from excellent defensive play, tons of missed shots/posts, etc. Overall though your assessment of him seems to be very hypocritical in that you fault Luongo for his meltdown, or Brodeur for giving up 2 goals in 1:20, yet you praise Lundqvist, who blew 3 straight games where he had the chance to advance, giving up 11 goals on 56 shots in the process. And before you go to the "so and so played on a better team crap" remember that Carolina was by far the hottest team in the league for the last 2 months, the Blackhawks also finished the season on a tear, the Capitals fell apart down the stretch and were dominated by Carolina head to head, ALL while the Rangers surged into the playoffs under Tortarella and their newly acquired deadline pickups.

Bruce said...

Late to the party, and as usual, am having trouble telling all you Anonymice apart. Could you guys please take like 30 seconds and come up with a handle? I suggest SmartAss and DumbAss, you guys decide who's who. (Just kidding :)

There's a few factually incorrect things above -- e.g. the Devils were not a higher seeded team than the Flyers in 2000, the Devils won Game 5 and Game 7 in Philly. Brodeur may not have stolen the Cup that year, but the game results in the semi-finals and finals -- against the top seed in the East and the defending Stanley Cup champ respectively -- are pretty revealing. Let's start from Game 5 in Philly when the Devils had their backs to the wall:

NJD 4 @ PHI 1
NJD 2 PHI 1
NJD 2 @ PHI 1

NJD 7 DAL 3
NJD 1 DAL 2
NJD 2 @ DAL 1
NJD 3 @ DAL 1
NJD 0 DAL 1 (3 OT)
NJD 2 @ DAL 1 (2 OT)
.

Conclusion: The bum never even recorded one shutout in that stretch.

As for the comparison between the '01 Devils and the '02 Wings, in '01 the Devils finished tied for 2nd overall, 7 points behind Colorado. They subsequently lost to the Avalanche, in Denver, 3-1 in the 7th game.

In 2002 the Red Wings finished in first place, 15 points ahead of the next team. They were by far The dominant team in the league, whereas the '01 Devs were A dominant team, a huge difference.

The '01 Devils were in the same boat as the '87 Flyers, '89 Habs or '08 Penguins -- an elite squad that got toppled in the finals by the President's Trophy winners. While it's sexy around here to blame Brodeur for the loss, fact is that in the Devils four losses in the Finals they scored a total of 2 goals.

overpass said...


As for the comparison between the '01 Devils and the '02 Wings, in '01 the Devils finished tied for 2nd overall, 7 points behind Colorado. They subsequently lost to the Avalanche, in Denver, 3-1 in the 7th game.

In 2002 the Red Wings finished in first place, 15 points ahead of the next team. They were by far The dominant team in the league, whereas the '01 Devs were A dominant team, a huge difference.


It's true that the '02 Wings were clearly the best team in the league, but that's because there were arguably no other elite teams in the league that year. In '01 the Devils and Avs were clearly elite, and you might put the Wings and Sens in that group also.

President's Trophy aside, I'd argue that the Devils were the strongest team going into the playoffs, based on their phenomenal GF/GA ratio (1.51, ahead of Colorado's 1.41.) Goal ratio/difference is generally considered to be more predictive of future results than wins and losses, and in this case we're looking "forward" to handicap the Stanley Cup '01 Stanley Cup playoffs here, not at who won the Presidents Trophy.

When the Devils and Avalanche met in the finals, it was a meeting of two elite teams - except for the fact that Peter Forsberg was injured. That's huge. Without Forsberg, the '01 Avalanche probably project as a second-tier team like the Blues or the Flyers, rather than an elite team on the level of the Devils.

The '01 Devils were in the same boat as the '87 Flyers, '89 Habs or '08 Penguins -- an elite squad that got toppled in the finals by the President's Trophy winners.

It's true that they were beaten by the President's trophy winners, but "President's trophy winner" is just a simple heuristic to estimate team quality. A more comprehensive look that considers Forsberg's injury suggests that the Devils should have been the favourites going into the series. I wouldn't say the same for the '87 Flyers or '89 Canadiens, and definitely not the '08 Penguins.

Bruce said...

Overpass: When it comes to deciding home ice for Game 7, the President's Trophy means more than a superior GF:GA ratio.

You're right about Forsberg missing that series, and I was impressed by how well the Avalanche played without him. The Devils OTOH, scored 2 goals in 4 losses. Hard to pin that on the 'tender ... at least, not on New Jersey's 'tender. Roy was sensational; I say give him a little credit rather than blaming Brodeur for not winning when his team theoretically had a high-powered offence. The Devils GAA was 2.38 in the season, 2.71 in the SCF; their offence on the other hand plummeted from 3.60 to 1.57 G/G. Meaning their output relative to expectations (with no allowance for opponent) was -14 GF and -2 GA. That's on the goalie??

I've made this point before and I'll make it again: that era 1999-2003 featured some of the great goalie match-ups of all time:

1999: Belfour over Hasek
2000: Broduer over Belfour
2001: Roy over Brodeur
2002: Hasek over Irbe
2003: Brodeur over Giguere

That's just the finals. In conference playoffs Belfour beat Roy twice in 7 game series, and Hasek beat Roy once. Brodeur toppled Joseph twice.

Bottom line: The sun don't shine on the same dog's ass every day.

Anonymous said...

"There's a few factually incorrect things above -- e.g. the Devils were not a higher seeded team than the Flyers in 2000, the Devils won Game 5 and Game 7 in Philly. Brodeur may not have stolen the Cup that year, but the game results in the semi-finals and finals -- against the top seed in the East and the defending Stanley Cup champ respectively -- are pretty revealing. Let's start from Game 5 in Philly when the Devils had their backs to the wall:

NJD 4 @ PHI 1
NJD 2 PHI 1
NJD 2 @ PHI 1

NJD 7 DAL 3
NJD 1 DAL 2
NJD 2 @ DAL 1
NJD 3 @ DAL 1
NJD 0 DAL 1 (3 OT)
NJD 2 @ DAL 1 (2 OT).

Conclusion: The bum never even recorded one shutout in that stretch. "

Nope it does not matter. Anybody could have done that well playing goal for NJ. So says the majority of posters on this site. Not to mention this is the same crowd who claims that Chris Osgood does not play better in the playoffs, or that Martin Brodeur just "magically" turned into an elite goalie "sometime during the 2005-06 season".

Bruce said...

"President's trophy winner" is just a simple heuristic to estimate team quality

Uh, yeah. Given that it is in each case the first place overall team in a 21- to 30-team league, here's my formula for that:

ETQ = PDG

(Estimated team quality = pretty damn good.)

The Double is no mean feat, and involves nothing but teams of exceptional quality. The '87 Oilers, '89 Flames, '01 Avalanche and '08 Wings were all exceptional teams, as were the '94 Rangers, '99 Stars and '02 Wings. AFAIC, you take both titles, you're the best team, period.

Btw, President's Trophy winners as a group are more susceptible early in the playoffs than in the SCF, where they have 7 series wins, only 2 losses.

overpass said...

I don't disagree with your general point about President's Trophy winners, Bruce. I just think that there's reason to believe that the Devils were as good as the Avalanche, and that's before factoring in the loss of Forsberg. The other teams you mention generally saw weaker opponents in the final.

overpass said...

I should say that by "weaker" I mean "weaker than the President's Trophy winning great team", not weak by any other measure.

Bruce said...

I just think that there's reason to believe that the Devils were as good as the Avalanche

Overpass: There's reason to believe they were almost as good. They finished 2nd overall, 7 points back, and went all the way to Game 7 of the SCF and lost it, 3-1 on enemy ice. Change 7 points to 6 and you could say the exact same things about the '87 Flyers, who were an outstanding team and the toughest opponent the Oilers ever faced in the SCF (other than the '83 Islanders, and the less said about that series, the better!) I attended 4 games of those '87 Finals, and I thought it was the best live hockey I've ever seen and on the short list of greatest Finals ever. End of the day, the Flyers gave the Oilers all they could handle, but the Oilers responded and won the day. Colorado did the exact same thing in '01.

I would be quick to concede that Patrick Roy outplayed Martin Brodeur in that series. I would not, however, pin the loss on Brodeur. Not when the offence scored 0, 1, 0 and 1 goals in the four losses. Same way I wouldn't pin the '00 Finals loss on Belfour, or the '99 one on Hasek. All three series featured Outstanding goaltending.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

"Or that Martin Brodeur just "magically" turned into an elite goalie "sometime during the 2005-06 season"."

I'm open to alternate suggestions, but I really don't know what else one can possibly conclude given the numbers. Here are Brodeur's even-strength save percentages, league average, and the difference:

1998-99: .915 (.916), -.001
1999-00: .912 (.912), +.000
2000-01: .919 (.914), +.005
2001-02: .917 (.916), +.001
2002-03: .921 (.918), +.003
2003-04: .924 (.922), +.002
2005-06: .922 (.915), +.007
2006-07: .927 (.917), +.010
2007-08: .928 (.920), +.008
2008-09: .933 (.919), +.014

You think he was playing on the same level all the way through? Any ideas then why his stats are basically average for 6 years in a row, and then suddenly ~.010 better than average for 4 seasons in a row after the lockout?

Anonymous said...

"The Contrarian Goaltender said...
"Or that Martin Brodeur just "magically" turned into an elite goalie "sometime during the 2005-06 season"."

I'm open to alternate suggestions, but I really don't know what else one can possibly conclude given the numbers. Here are Brodeur's even-strength save percentages, league average, and the difference:

1998-99: .915 (.916), -.001
1999-00: .912 (.912), +.000
2000-01: .919 (.914), +.005
2001-02: .917 (.916), +.001
2002-03: .921 (.918), +.003
2003-04: .924 (.922), +.002
2005-06: .922 (.915), +.007
2006-07: .927 (.917), +.010
2007-08: .928 (.920), +.008
2008-09: .933 (.919), +.014

You think he was playing on the same level all the way through? Any ideas then why his stats are basically average for 6 years in a row, and then suddenly ~.010 better than average for 4 seasons in a row after the lockout?"

First, those numbers only start during the 98 season. Brodeur had some excellent years prior to that.

Second it is far more feasible that there is another variable that you have not accounted for which would coincide with those numbers, as opposed to the whole theory that a 33 year old goalie just decided to start playing the best hockey of his life despite losing his entire defense and being way past his supposed "prime". I do not know how somebody who relies that much on stats can just conclude that "he got better" at a stage when most goalies decline.

Perhaps he was the same goalie the whole time(which logically makes sense), which would coincide with his performance first 5 years of his career. You also have admitted you do not have shot quality data for much of this time frame, so I assume you are just assuming he had it easier than everybody else, nullifying anything good he did, and magnifying his more average years. And before you go off on the Stevens and Neidermayer tangent remember that you were just recently explaining to me how erroneous it is to judge a team based on names.

Either way, the whole "he just got better" theory is pretty ridiculous. He was a top tier goalie numbers wise until 98, and won Vezina's in both 03 and 04. So again, it comes down to what? A 4 year span? Interestingly during that time frame NJ was offensively one of the best teams in the league, while giving up relatively few shots per game. Thus it is far more logical to conclude that the scoring chances he faced during this time were greater than at other points in his career, and combined with a low shots/game equates to a lower save percentage. Again, unless you just want to blindly claim that "he just got better" without really having any sort of reason why.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

I think you are probably correct, Bruce, that it was more a case of Roy winning the 2001 Cup Finals than Brodeur losing them based on the way the games went. My recollection of the series was that it was one of those rare contests that was pretty much entirely decided by goaltending, Roy playing terrific most of the way and Brodeur being fairly spotty throughout.

Brodeur didn't get much support, that is true, but he didn't keep his team in the game either. All New Jersey's losses were by 2 goals or more. He was pretty weak early in games, which wasn't the formula for winning in a tight defensive series in the middle of the Dead Puck Era. Brodeur got scored on in the first period of every game, and had an .867 save percentage over the first two periods. In games 6 and 7, Colorado went up early and just choked off the game (the Devils had just 5 shots in the third period in both of those games), so in a way it's not that surprising New Jersey didn't score that many goals in their losses. Game 6 was the memorable game where Roy absolutely stood on his head early and then every time the Avalanche went back the other way they seemed to score.

Interestingly, the NHL tracked zone time back in 2001, so we know how much time the puck was in each end of the ice. Those numbers seem to match my recollection that the ice was very much tilted in New Jersey's favour:

Game 1: 19:37 in NJ zone, 25:48 in COL zone
Game 2: 20:56 in NJ zone, 25:36 in COL zone
Game 3: 18:20 in NJ zone, 26:20 in COL zone
Game 4: 16:25 in NJ zone, 26:09 in COL zone
Game 5: 21:47 in NJ zone, 23:06 in COL zone
Game 6: 21:13 in NJ zone, 22:45 in COL zone
Game 7: 20:43 in NJ zone, 24:14 in COL zone

Series total: 139 min in NJ zone, 174 min in COL zone

The puck was 25% more often in Colorado's zone. That's even more impressive when you consider that Colorado spent almost 15 extra minutes on the power play over the course of the series. I think New Jersey had better skaters to begin with, but without Forsberg there simply wasn't any doubt. Switch goalies, and the Devils would have strolled it.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

"First, those numbers only start during the 98 season. Brodeur had some excellent years prior to that."

Sure, and I agree he was pretty good from 1994-1998. I believe I've described his career path as being "upside-down" - good early, good late, average in the middle.

"I do not know how somebody who relies that much on stats can just conclude that "he got better" at a stage when most goalies decline."

As someone who relies on stats, I conclude that he got better because his stats got a whole lot better. If I didn't rely on stats, then maybe I would invent some subjective, unconvincing explanation like you are trying to do.

Another thing I'm relying on is having watched the guy play. He just wasn't that impressive, most of the time, in the late '90s/early '00s. He had a couple of nice postseason runs, but those save percentages match what my eyes were telling me.

"You also have admitted you do not have shot quality data for much of this time frame"

I have it for 2003 and 2004. New Jersey was far ahead of the rest of the league, with mostly the same players they had in the preceding seasons. I have no doubt they were well above average from 1998-2002 as well. Also, much of the shot quality effect is from special teams, and here we are only looking at even-strength numbers.

"And before you go off on the Stevens and Neidermayer tangent remember that you were just recently explaining to me how erroneous it is to judge a team based on names."

I don't go off on Stevens and Niedermayer tangents. Forwards are just as important as defencemen for preventing goals, and New Jersey has always had terrific defensive forwards.

"Either way, the whole "he just got better" theory is pretty ridiculous. He was a top tier goalie numbers wise until 98, and won Vezina's in both 03 and 04."

It's not a theory. The numbers are right there, staring at you. Again I don't know why that was the case, but handwaving over it because it doesn't make logical sense to you is, in my view, a pretty unenlightened sentiment. And yes, Brodeur did somehow end up with two Vezinas, the two worst Vezina decisions since Jim Carey in 1996.

"Thus it is far more logical to conclude that the scoring chances he faced during this time were greater than at other points in his career, and combined with a low shots/game equates to a lower save percentage."

No, that wouldn't be logical at all. New Jersey had a strong offence for 3 of those years, and an average/below-average offence for the other 3, but they were always very strong defensively. New Jersey was always near the top of the league in shot differential - at their best they were like last year's Red Wings in that they would outplay you and shut you down defensively at the same time.

In any case, Pat Burns was no freewheeling offensive coach. Brodeur's backups from 2002-2004 went 1.60, .928. Anybody who watched them remembers them being a terrific defensive squad, and the shot quality numbers agree. Brodeur's performance on those teams was, once again, pretty average.

Also, shots against are unrelated to save percentage. If there is any effect from lower shots, it is because there are proportionally more shots on the power play than at even-strength, but New Jersey has always been excellent at not taking penalties, so that was no disadvantage for Brodeur.

"Again, unless you just want to blindly claim that "he just got better" without really having any sort of reason why."

I'd rather correctly interpret the data without being able to explain it then make up some incorrect theory off the top of my head that doesn't explain the phenomenon and is easily proven wrong.

Anonymous said...

You have still yet to give any reason why he supposedly just "got better" once his entire defense left. Players do not just "get better" for no reason. Especially guys in their mid 30's. Younger guys sure, but a 33 year old goalie? Come on.

Those late 90's teams did not need to rely on him to win them games. The more recent teams certainly have from time to time. Hasek had some pretty average numbers with those powerhouse Detroit teams. I guess he just decided to "stop being good" once he left Buffalo. Or maybe there was some reason why 4 of his 5 seasons (5/6 if you count his stint with Chicago) outside Buffalo looked pretty average.

Statman said...

Certain players do, for whatever reason, improve for a couple yrs in their 30's. Most don't. Who knows why Brodeur improved... maybe his messy home life was resolved?

http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/rumors/post/Devils-Brodeur-gets-beat-in-New-Jersey-divorce-?urn=nhl,149582

Maybe Brodeur's somewhat average middle section of his career had been adversely affected by personal issues... maybe he would've been a better goalie during this period (with better stats), & the recent years are just his natural post-30 abilities which look better than his distracted middle-period years?

Who knows. But the numbers (drop in performance when he should've been at his peak) speak for themselves. Imagining that somehow he must have been better than what the numbers show doesn't really explain anything.

Anonymous said...

" If I didn't rely on stats, then maybe I would invent some subjective, unconvincing explanation "

like this

"And yes, Brodeur did somehow end up with two Vezinas, the two worst Vezina decisions since Jim Carey in 1996."

let me guess Luongo should have won both those instead? You sure do have a thing for overrating guys on average teams who benefit from seeing 35 shots a game. Coincidentally your view of Brodeur seems to have changed once he became one of those "good goalies on an average team" in 05-06.

"Also, shots against are unrelated to save percentage."

Not true. I do not see how just because YOU write a post about something in which you throw out a bunch of "supposed" tests and samples that it determines this to be a factually true statement. You also rarely disclose any of the formulas you use, and often blatantly leave things out. That is like me stating, "I did a study, and after assessing third period data since 2004, found Evgeni Nabakov to have the best save percentage during the last 2 minutes of games when his team was trailing." or "Martin Brodeur has the highest save percentage in Stanley Cup Finals history in the 3rd period". See where I am going? No source, no proof of data, no outline of the methods used to filter data; welcome to your site. Most of you sources are not sources, but in fact OTHER BLOGGERS ramblings and further "studies" that are equally as shaky as your own.

But to top it off there are all those "Pittsburgh is better this time" type of threads in which you spout off a bunch of nonsense and then either way claim you are right by manipulating the numbers.

Anonymous said...

"Who knows. But the numbers (drop in performance when he should've been at his peak) speak for themselves. Imagining that somehow he must have been better than what the numbers show doesn't really explain anything."

No it does not explain anything, but neither does claiming that he "just got better".

The fact of the matter is that he was an indisputably elite goalie from 94-98, and then again from 05-09 ( I do not feel like hearing you whine about how 2 Vezina winning years were actually mediocre, so we'll just say it started 05). It is far more logical to conclude the he was the same goalie the whole time, as opposed to "he just got better" when he turned 33.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

"let me guess Luongo should have won both those instead?"

Of course not. Marty Turco should have won in 2003, despite playing on Dallas, an outstanding defensive team, and facing just 25 shots per game. The reason is that he led the league with a .932 save percentage. If you really think it is tougher to put up a high save percentage on a low shot team, then you should be in absolute awe of that performance.

"No source, no proof of data, no outline of the methods used to filter data; welcome to your site."

The sources I regularly use are as follows: Hockey-Reference, NHL.com, hockeygoalies.org, The Hockey Summary Project, and some historical data compilations from the Hockey Analysis Group. For the sole purpose of measuring playoff shot quality, I have also been using ESPN and CBS. That's it.

Anyone can easily duplicate any of my results. Most of the time when I post some numbers, they took me a couple of minutes to look up. If something's unclear, leave a comment and ask for a clarification, but otherwise I'm not here to hold people's hands and waste a lot of time with pointless explanations. This is a blog, not an academic journal.

"There are all those "Pittsburgh is better this time" type of threads in which you spout off a bunch of nonsense."

It was nonsense to claim that Pittsburgh is better this time? Really? Are you not following the Stanley Cup Finals at all?

"It is far more logical to conclude the he was the same goalie the whole time, as opposed to "he just got better" when he turned 33."

You're making it sound like Brodeur came out of nowhere in his mid-30s. That's not what happened. He showed enough strong play early in his career that his late career performance was not unexpected. In some ways the curious thing is more that he was so ordinary from 1998-2004.

There are lots of players who suddenly lose their touch and go from world-beaters to average players or worse. Think Paul Kariya, Markus Naslund, Wade Redden, etc. It is difficult to stay on top in the best league in the world. Usually the main factor is injuries, but not always. It is unusual that they end up regaining their touch late in their careers, but I'm sure there are some historical comparables for that.

If it was my job to investigate the reason I'd probably start with doing some more research on the effect of games played on goalie performance to see if maybe there is some evidence Brodeur wore down a bit, but I doubt that would be significant enough to explain it.

Otherwise, the lockout seems to have affected a number of guys, there are a bunch of other goalies who have quite different results before and after. Most of them went in the other direction (guys like Raycroft and Turco, for example), but who knows, maybe a year off was good for a workhorse like Brodeur.

"Hasek had some pretty average numbers with those powerhouse Detroit teams. I guess he just decided to "stop being good" once he left Buffalo."

Hasek's an easy one. His peak ended with his groin injury in 2000. Hasek's drop is a bit camouflaged by team factors and the increasingly low-scoring league environment, but his even-strength save percentage dropped from the .940 range to the .925 range and other than a brief return to glory in 2005-06 pretty much stayed there for the rest of his career. Hasek had identical even-strength save percentages in Buffalo in 2000 and 2001 as he did in Detroit in 2002, the main difference was that the Red Wings took a lot more penalties. There might have been some team effects there so Hasek was actually slightly worse than before, but that would make sense since he was 37 years old.

If you claim Hasek was average, then how can you claim Brodeur was anything otherwise? Hasek beat Brodeur in even-strength save percentage in every year he played a full season between 1999 to 2008.

Anonymous said...

"It was nonsense to claim that Pittsburgh is better this time? Really? Are you not following the Stanley Cup Finals at all?"

No it was nonsense to present it as if it is something of significance when there is no way for you to be proven wrong. Pittsburgh lost the first 2 games and your response was that since they outshot Detroit that they were really the better team. Then the exact opposite thing happens in game 3-6, where Detroit severely outshoots Pittsburgh, but because Pittsburgh wins 3/4 you are claiming it was because they are better. Everything is a circular argument with you. Even dating back to last year were you called Cristobal Huet an underrated goalie and claimed he will be the main guy for Chicago due to his high save percentage. Then Huet plays like crap, loses the job, and you turn around and start pulling out manipulated save percentage numbers so you can say he really has not been that bad. Its always the same type of thing with you.

"You're making it sound like Brodeur came out of nowhere in his mid-30s. That's not what happened. He showed enough strong play early in his career that his late career performance was not unexpected. In some ways the curious thing is more that he was so ordinary from 1998-2004."

No you make it sound like he sucked prior to 2005, when the truth is he has been playing for 15 years and yet you focus almost exclusively on a couple year span where his stats were not out of this world.

"Otherwise, the lockout seems to have affected a number of guys, there are a bunch of other goalies who have quite different results before and after. Most of them went in the other direction (guys like Raycroft and Turco, for example), but who knows, maybe a year off was good for a workhorse like Brodeur"

Turco and Raycroft were both simply butterfly goalies who relied on good defenses to make their jobs easy. After the lockout both their teams were much weaker then the ones they played on prior, and the league cracked down on huge equipment, obviously they were done for. Brodeur relies on skill like athleticism and reflexes to make saves which is why he is so consistent.

"If you claim Hasek was average, then how can you claim Brodeur was anything otherwise? Hasek beat Brodeur in even-strength save percentage in every year he played a full season between 1999 to 2008"

Because I do not measure a goalie solely based on save percentage, let alone what seems to be your new flavor of the month, "even strength save percentage". Game are played with penalties, just because one team takes fewer than others does not mean that how the goalies perform on them is irrelevant. heck some goalies give up a ton of goalies on when their team is on the power play, so even that is relevant.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

"No it was nonsense to present it as if it is something of significance when there is no way for you to be proven wrong."

Of course there was a way for me to proven wrong. If Detroit massively outplayed Pittsburgh in the Finals again. That didn't happen. Therefore I was proven right.

"Then the exact opposite thing happens in game 3-6, where Detroit severely outshoots Pittsburgh, but because Pittsburgh wins 3/4 you are claiming it was because they are better."

Uh, no, I clearly claimed earlier in these very comments, when Detroit held a 2-0 lead, that Pittsburgh was very obviously better. Pittsburgh could have been swept and they still would have been a better team than last year. The underlying numbers are radically different. I thought my original post was pretty boring, pretty much stating the obvious, I had no idea that somebody would actually challenge me on it. This is actually quite a simple concept, blatantly obvious to the entire hockey world except a bunch of Detroit Red Wings homers and apparently you. Read what Vic Ferrari wrote above about Evgeni Malkin, it's terrific stuff.

"Then Huet plays like crap, loses the job, and you turn around and start pulling out manipulated save percentage numbers so you can say he really has not been that bad."

When did I do that? Huet had an off-year, no question about it. It happens to goalies, because goalie performance is variable. He's still a good goalie.

"No you make it sound like he sucked prior to 2005, when the truth is he has been playing for 15 years and yet you focus almost exclusively on a couple year span where his stats were not out of this world."

Brodeur's stats have never been out of this world. His peak does not approach that of either Hasek or Roy, and that's one of the main reasons he is overrated by people who think he is the greatest ever. I don't think I've focused all that much on the period from 1998-2004, but maybe I have, I don't know, seems to me like I just keep getting arguments from people who refuse to believe what the numbers make abundantly clear, and so I have to rehash the arguments again.

"Turco and Raycroft were both simply butterfly goalies who relied on good defenses to make their jobs easy."

Have you ever watched Turco play? I agree with you on Raycroft, for the most part, although his numbers just completely fell off the map so there was more going on than just his teammates getting worse, but Turco is well-known for his athleticism and his reflexes.

"Brodeur relies on skill like athleticism and reflexes to make saves which is why he is so consistent."

Except for the 6 year period we have been discussing, apparently.

"Because I do not measure a goalie solely based on save percentage, let alone what seems to be your new flavor of the month, "even strength save percentage"."

You've noticed. Yes, some very good points were made about even-strength save percentage, and I have compiled the stats on it, so yes I'm breaking it out. That's what I do, use the best tools I have available and go where the evidence tells me to go.

"Game are played with penalties, just because one team takes fewer than others does not mean that how the goalies perform on them is irrelevant. heck some goalies give up a ton of goalies on when their team is on the power play, so even that is relevant."

You're right, penalty kill performance matters too. You'll be happy to know that Hasek was a much better goalie on the penalty kill than Brodeur as well, up until 2006-07.

Statman said...

"It is far more logical to conclude the he was the same goalie the whole time, as opposed to "he just got better" when he turned 33."

Far more logical to make a conclusion based on nothing, & in direct opposition to what his stats illustrate? Hmmm, I can't agree with that.

The stats used to measure his performance dropped for awhile, & have rebounded since the lockout. It's really just that simple.

[Maybe banging his brother's wife sort of created a problem within his family & the married-Marty's play suffered by 10%? Who knows.]

If you're going to completely discount his stats during his "down" period, then you can't rely on his stats during ANY period. E.g. maybe, despite his good stats since the lockout, he actually is the worst goalie in the NHL. After all, he is in his mid-30's now so it wouldn't make sense that he be in the top 10% of NHL goalies, despite what his stats say. (?)

If you're going to discount & ignore his stats because they don't fit into your notion of how good he should be playing at any particular stage/age of his career, then there's no point examining the stats or even contributing to this blog, no?

Anonymous said...

"If you're going to discount & ignore his stats because they don't fit into your notion of how good he should be playing at any particular stage/age of his career, then there's no point examining the stats or even contributing to this blog, no?"

It is much more likely however, to consider the majority of a guys seasons during his career as an example of his skill level. The period referred to covers 4 years. I am not buying that somehow he was "average" despite winnning back to back Vezina's in 03 and 04. So again, it is 4 years out of 15. We certainly do not judge Hasek based on his numbers from 01-08, which by my estimate represents a much larger percentage of his career than the 4 years period for which Brodeur is criticized. Why does it matter when a guy had his off years?

RE:Turco, yes early in his career he was quite impressive. He was also only playing 50 some odd games a year. Nonetheless more of my point was that it is easier for a butterfly goalie to hide behind a good defense even when he is not "on" than it is for a goalie who relies primarily on skill.

Statman said...

Sure, we can throw out any player's X worst seasons (whether due to age or injury or personal strife or whatever), & assess him according to the remainder of his career.

Statman said...

... we can throw out Osgood's worst regular season/playoff seasons, & make him look like a cinch to be in the HOF.

Anonymous said...

However, once again, there is a difference between throwing out a players stats here and there, or judging him based on what he has done for the majority of his career. Judging Brodeur based on his performance for 11 out of the 15 seasons he has played while factoring in that even in his worst seasons he was at least average, is difference from eliminating almost all of Chris Osgood's career only to judge him by a few seasons which is what would have to be done to make a case for him for the HOF.

Statman said...

Well, my point on this topic is that Brodeur did indeed, for whatever reason, perform worse for several seasons than he did early & later in his career... & that no player should receive extra brownie points (in the heart of his career when he should be at his peak) because it is assumed that his stats aren't really reflective of his ability at that particular time.

(Do I feel that Osgood should be in the HOF? No, not unless he miraculously has some subsequent excellent seasons, which won't happen at his age.)

Bruce said...

In some ways the curious thing is more that he was so ordinary from 1998-2004.

Oh for goodness sake. Here's "ordinary" for you, numbers and all:

2000: 16-7, 1.61, .927
Won Stanley Cup

2001: 15-10, 2.07, .897
Won Eastern Conference "pennant"

2002: 4-0-1, 1.80, .???
Won Olympic Gold Medal

2003: 16-8, 1.65, .934
Won Stanley Cup

2004: 5-0, 1.00, .961
Won World Cup of Hockey Gold Medal

Three trips to the Finals in four years, but let's crucify the guy for that year where he only posted a .600 Win% and a crappy 2.07 GAA. But hey! .897! Look at that. What more evidence do we need that the guy was erratic, tended to fold under the slightest pressure all through those "ordinary" years? He got beat by Patrick Roy? Flog him! The team could have won several more Cups with a proper stopper like Hasek!

Puh-leeeeze.

If that's what Brodeur did during his "ordinary" years, he must have been pretty awesome in the other years, what?

Bruce said...

On the other hand, I suppose you can claim small sample size for the above, and cite Brodeur's "ordinary" regular seasons. Here's the statistical mean of an "ordinary" year for Martin Brodeur, 1998-2004, rounded to the nearest integer.

40-22-10, .625; 2.17, .910, 7 SO

All the years look pretty much the same, with a tight range from 38-43 victories, +/- ~.005 on the Sv% and +/-0.15 on GAA. What he did, worked, and worked well.

Each of those 6 regular seasons consisted of 70-75 GP. Add in 90 playoff games and Brodeur's workload was 525 GP in just 6 years, a feat of endurance that rivals in modern way that of Glenn Hall.

In '03 and '04 Brodeur won both the Jennings and Vezina Trophies. The former cna be found among those glittering numbers, 2.02 and 2.03 over 148 GP. As for the latter, is it possible that the voters of the day looked beyond EV Sv% and judged the goaltenders' overall impact on the game?

Post lockout, with the so-called Brodeur Rule in place to constrain a skill set that was the envy of the league, he had to change his game. A little less aggressive on the puck, a little more conservative approach, his shots go up, his saves go up, and hey lookit! His Sv% goes up. Guess he's suddenly elite.

Puh-leeeeze.

How folks can quibble with consistent, durable, long-term elite-level performance like Martin Brodeur has put up for 15 years and counting absolutely boggles my mind.

Statman said...

Well, I guess someone hasn't read this blog for the past couple of years.

Bruce said...

Statman: I've been reading this blog lots, commenting lots too. And providing lots of stats, Statman, more than the one metric you guys have been beating to death -- Sv%, EV Sv%, SQN Sv%, etc., as if the goalie is a two-dimensional cardboard cutout that has nothing to do but stop the puck. The statistical record cited above is nothing short of spectacular, but there is no satisfying some people.

Statman said...

Yeah I know that you've been on here lots, of course I was being facetious. I don't recall much in the way of alternate analysis (e.g. rebound control, puckhandling) that has really indicated that there is anything remotely approaching SV% & it's variants. Despite Brodeur's claims of reducing shots against by 8-10 per game due to his rebound control.

Bruce said...

I don't recall much in the way of alternate analysis (e.g. rebound control, puckhandling

Well I guess you haven't been reading in the blog too carefully yourself then, Statman. There's been lots of discussion, such as here and here. Oh wait a minute, you're all over the comments sections, you must have read them. Even CG was admitting possible effects on your precious Sv% of +/- a number of basis points, and there was no argument that Brodeur and Belfour to name two had a positive effect in this respect, while other big Sv% stoppers generally had a negative effect.

CG shows above that Brodeur's EV Sv% was consistently above the league average even during his "down" years, and his shot prevention effect was always going to be a positive one, probably even greater before the Brodeur Rule than it is today. Multiply the two positive outcomes together and the results become even more positive. Roll that together with a 70+ game ironman and hey presto! 40 wins a year and points in 10 more, not to mention Stanley Cups, gold medals, Vezina trophies, Jennings Trophies (2 of each during that 6-year "down" period). I just don't get how you guys can look at those rows of numbers -- no, not just that one little column, Statman, ALL of those numbers -- and all those accomplishments and somehow conclude he wasn't playing well. It's nonsensical, and it damages your credibility.

Statman said...

My whole sentence reads: "I don't recall much in the way of alternate analysis (e.g. rebound control, puckhandling) that has really indicated that there is anything remotely approaching SV% & it's variants."

In other words, if a goalie reduces shots against by a big ONE per game his basic SV% is still by FAR the most appropriate metric to apply. If I had the choice of choosing goalies either on the basis of 'shot prevention'/'rebound control'/'stickhandling & passing' vs. SV% (& it's variants) I know what I would choose. (Personally I don't think comparing a goalie to his backups is enough to very accurately determine shot prevention - but I realize the limitations of data.)

If a goalie could reduce shots against by 8-10 per game (above the league avg goalie), as Marty professes, then sure, his abilities other than simply stopping the puck would be very important.

Yeah, yeah... Brodeur had lots of wins & awards even when his ability to stop the puck wasn't that "elite"... that of course has nothing to do with his team... just like Fleury must be much better than all the goalies above him on the playoff SV% list... or goalies that didn't even make the playoffs... he clearly had an excellent season:

http://www.hockey-reference.com/playoffs/NHL_2009_leaders.html

I think you're still too mesmerized by the basic 'counting numbers'. As career minor leaguer Scott Clemmenson proved...

Bruce said...

If I had the choice of choosing goalies either on the basis of 'shot prevention'/'rebound control'/'stickhandling & passing' vs. SV% (& it's variants) I know what I would choose.

If I had the choice I would choose both. If I had just one, I'd take Sv%. But I would prefer to know a combination of the two.

Let's take an example far removed from the subject of your constant and rather tiresome derision. We have previously looked at the pair of Lehtonen and Hedberg in Atlanta, who have shown a persistent shot differential of ~3 shots per game despite playing on the same team every year. In the current season they split the workload fairly evenly, 46 GP for the Finn, 33 for the Swede. Here's their key stats:

Lehtonen: 34.3 SA/60; .911; 3.06
Hedberg : 30.6 SA/60; .886; 3.49

Lehtonen's Sv% soars above Hedberg's by .025. Per unit shot volume, Hedberg allows a staggering 28% more GA.

But the shot volume is not uniform. This year Lehtonen faced 3.7 more shots per 60, a difference of 12%. Not enough to make up the difference, but enough to close it substantially. This can be seen in GAA, in which Hedberg's is 14% worse. By this metric, which is the product of shot volume and save rates, the discrepancy between the two is cut in half of that suggested by Sv%.

Let's assume that Hedberg played a few more games at exactly his established rates, so that his minutes exactly mirrored Lehtonen's 2624. How would their stats compare?

Lehtonen (actual): 1498 shots, 134 GA
Hedberg (projected): 1361 shots, 153 GA

Lehtonen clearly has superior results, 19 fewer GA in roughly 44 games of work. But based on Sv% alone, we would expect this differential to be double that: .025 * ~1500 shots = ~38 GA. The discrepancy is the "extra" 137 shots that Lehtonen had to face.

Now let's assume that Hedberg faced the same shot volumes as Lehtonen. His "shot adjusted Sv%" jumps from .886 to .898, still inferior to Lehtonen but halving the perceived difference derived from unadjusted Sv% alone.

I'm not arguing who's better, just how to better measure the difference between them. I'll freely admit that we have no way to directly attribute all the difference in shots just to the play of the goalies; that said, they play on the same team and these differences have persisted for three seasons running.

To open a fresh can o' worms, the other difference which has persisted is this one:

Pts% : Hedberg / Lehtonen

2006-07: .667 / .575
2007-08: .484 / .443
2008-09: .518 / .466
----------------------
2006-09: .533 / .506

Hedberg is worse in GAA, much worse in Sv%, much better in shot prevention, and consistently better in winning percentage. Note: I'm not claiming cause and effect, I'm merely pointing out that it's interesting. Perhaps it explains why Hedberg gets more starts than his stats suggest that he "should". Whereas you put the emphasis on shot stopping and I might put it on goal prevention, the coach probably puts it on winning the damn game.

Yeah, yeah... Brodeur had lots of wins & awards even when his ability to stop the puck wasn't that "elite"... that of course has nothing to do with his team

It has a whole lot to do with his team, of course. But he's a big part of that team, and the way he plays affects how his team plays. Bordeur is the most efficient goalie I've ever seen, playing on one of the most efficient teams ... what a coincidence.

As for his numbers not being elite, it seems to me that numbers in your favourite column like .927, .934 and .961 cited above -- in four-series playoff runs or best-on-best international tournaments -- are not too shabby. Your apparent blind spot to such accomplishments reeks of anti-Brodeur bias rather than dispassionate analysis.

Bruce said...

CG: Returning to the subject of your original and very long-lived post, by my count the Red Wings outshot the Penguins 203-187 over the 7 games, and had a superior Sv%, .930 to .916. This combined (as it must) to Detroit outscoring Pittsburgh, 17-13* (*discounting the 1 Penguin empty-netter).

More shots, better percentages, more goals ... everything you want, except it didn't help the Wings win the series. Obviously the key was distribution, where Pittsburgh won their four games by a combined 5* goals, whereas Detroit won Game 5 alone by that margin.

No doubt some will point to Fleury's "clutch" performance. Others will uncharitably say Osgood didn't get 'er done, .930 or no .930. Not sure I'm buying either one myself ... I'll just say "that's hockey".

Statman said...

Re: Hedberg & Lehtonen (H & L) - are there any stats available that indicate the shots/game of the teams they faced? Did one tend to play the teams that had more shots/game? Usually these are the higher-scoring teams... usually the 'starter' tends to face these teams while the backup faces the weaker offensive teams (which tend to have fewer shots/game against). Do we know anything about the situational stats H & L faced? E.g. did one tend to face more PP's than the other? For instance, SV% while facing PP's tends to be lower.

H & L are an interesting case to study but I don't know if there is enough data available to generalize about other goalies.

Re: Brodeur - "efficient"... how do you define that, & really who cares? It's like you're giving him bonus points for supposedly fitting so well into his team's game play & his team's other personnel. Maybe I'm missing your point.

When I speak of Brodeur not having elite stats for a time during his career, I'm referring to his regular season stats. During the reg season goalies face many more shots & play many more minutes than during even the longest playoff runs. I guess I wasn't clear on that. The playoffs are such a brief period, & teams don't face a very balanced schedule, & about 1/2 the players don't even make the playoffs... so I'm much more inclined to judge a player for his regular season work, unless he is particularly amazing (or bad) in the post-season.

It's like when Franzen racks up 20-something playoff goals over 30-something playoff games... I don't consider him (or Chris Kontos) to be an 'elite' goal scorer. And if Dany Heatley can set a record for Canada in international point-scoring, then I guess we better call him one of the best scorers of all time? Nah.

MY "constant and rather tiresome derision"... haha... am I the one running this blog? :)

Anonymous said...

Hey statman, should we start talking about how big Brodeur's goalie pads are again? It was nice to see you went on a couple month hiatus after making a fool out of yourself on that subject.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

"No doubt some will point to Fleury's "clutch" performance. Others will uncharitably say Osgood didn't get 'er done, .930 or no .930. Not sure I'm buying either one myself ... I'll just say "that's hockey"."

That's my sense as well. Other than game 5, it was a tight, even series the whole way through, and it pretty much came down to bounces in the end. From the shot charts and the expected goal stats, I'd guess the scoring chances were probably more even than the shot totals. I thought Pittsburgh deserved it with the way they played in game 7, but it could have just as easily gone the other way.

Statman said...

Anonyshit - Brodeur's pads? Of course they are much bigger than the pads goalies used to wear. He'd be an idiot to wear 10-inch wide leg pads (the old maximum) & the old tiny gloves & blockers goalies used to wear.

What's your point, jerk-off?

Anonymous said...

Statman please quit lying to try to cover yourself. You obviously were not referring to pad width. In fact, I went and found a couple quotes, DIRECTLY FROM YOU:

"By padding & equipt I'm referring to everything the goalies wear - leg pads, blockers, gloves, & abdominal & shoulder pads"

or maybe this one

"Brodeur's pads (leg pads, pants, midsection, glove, blocker, everything) are huge"

But wait, Statman had more to say

"Brodeur benefits from having larger equipment than most other goalies in the league"

heck even CG jumped in and corrected you by saying this:

"Statman: As you know, you and I agree on a lot of things. But you are on the wrong side on this one."

So nice try to go MIA and hope everyone forgot

Statman said...

That's right, all of Brodeur's equipment is larger than what goalies used to wear.... & I seriously doubt a 6'1", 210 lb goalie wears smaller equipment (however you want to define "equipment" - whether that's one particular piece or several pieces) than all of today's 5'9" - 5'10" 180 lb NHL goalies. Ahhh, but you're the expert...

Sorry, I didn't think I had to individually list every piece of equipment he wears. I'm sure that you are well-acquainted with his cup size, so perhaps you can fill us in there.

Later, dipshit.

Bruce said...

Re: Brodeur - "efficient"... how do you define that, & really who cares? It's like you're giving him bonus points for supposedly fitting so well into his team's game play & his team's other personnel. Maybe I'm missing your point.

Chances are ... :)

When I say New Jersey is (or used to be) "efficient" I am referring strictly to their excellent record in shot prevention over the years, which is a matter of record. Brodeur's contribution to that is not so easily defined -- it's certainly not 8-10 shots per game, but it just as certainly isn't zero either.

As for fitting into his team's game plan, to some extent it may have been designed around him. The Devils of the Scott Stevens era were notable for standing up at the blueline and forcing the shoot-in, as they were confident in their goalie's ability to field the puck behind them and make a solid play to get it moving in the right direction. The Devils defenders didn't have to spend as much time with their faces up against the glass, rather than chase the puck they were more inclined to attack it at the point of entry. As I saw it, the goalie had a Huge part in that.

When I speak of Brodeur not having elite stats for a time during his career, I'm referring to his regular season stats.

No, you are referring to his "regular season stat" (singular), cuz other than his only-slightly-above-league-average Sv%, Brodeur remained among the leaders in every other category throughout that "time during his career".

During the reg season goalies face many more shots & play many more minutes than during even the longest playoff runs.

OK, let's cast aside all those Stanley Cups and gold medals and just look at regular season performance. Looking at Hockey-reference.com I see Brodeur ranking first all-time in Wins, and 12th in Losses. He's second in Games Played, third in Shots Against, third in Saves, and 19th in Goals Against. He's second in ShutOuts, sixth in career Sv%, and eighth in career GAA (first among active goalies). He's fifth in Pts%. He's fifth in "Adjusted GAA", behind Ken Dryden, Bill Durnan, Dom Hasek, and Clint Benedict -- a pretty formidable group to say the least.

Granted that not all of those stats have been maintained consistently through the history of the game -- Shots and Sv% have only been tracked for a quarter century -- but I don't see anything on that list which doesn't scream "Elite".

The playoffs are such a brief period, & teams don't face a very balanced schedule, & about 1/2 the players don't even make the playoffs... so I'm much more inclined to judge a player for his regular season work, unless he is particularly amazing (or bad) in the post-season.

So you'll cite Brodeur's performance in the 2001 playoffs, but 1995, 2000 or 2003 are small sample sizes?

Statman said...

Bruce, we'll just have to agree to disagree. You're obviously much more impressed by basic stats (wins, GAA, team success) that I am... seems that if a goalie (any goalie) plays 70+ games & has 40+ wins, he has automatically had a good if not elite season, in your view. I don't know if you could ever think that a goalie who plays 70+ games & has 40+ wins in a season is a below average or even poor goalie.

Listing career basic stats, or SV% without adjustment for league avg, really means very little to me. (Too bad we don't have historical official SV% stats... it's misleading to list Brodeur as being third in Shots Against, third in Saves, etc.... 3rd in the last 25 yrs, yes. Anyway.)

My thoughts align with CG for the most part, & he has addressed & re-addressed this arguments over & over; I don't know what more there is to add. It would be interesting if 'shot prevention effects' & 'fitting into the team/affecting team play' etc etc could ever be accurately analyzed & quantified... but until then, I think the evidence indicates that efficiently stopping the puck is the best way to assess goalie skill.

Did I cite his 2001 playoffs? I don't think so. I don't think I mentioned anything other than his reg season play.

Cheers.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

Bruce: I think we've been through this a few times before. No doubt at times I come down too hard on Brodeur in my eagerness to counter the "Brodeur is the GOAT" position that much less informed individuals than yourself have advanced recently, but I think I've made my overall views pretty clear and have backed them up with a lot of work over the last couple of years.

As you know, I think Hasek was absolutely terrific, and I see quite a bit of daylight between him and Brodeur. I'm sure some misinterpret my comments about that gap to be equating Brodeur to an average goalie, some kind of Osgood type, when I'm really trying to place Marty on the Joseph/Belfour/Vanbiesbrouck level, with Hasek simply a cut above. That's no insult, as those guys were very good goalies.

I also don't think it is improper or insulting to call an average season an average season, whether the goalie in question happens to be Marty, Dom, Patrick or whoever, but there is of course lots to like about Brodeur's career and it all should get factored in.

It's still possible that further study will reveal that Brodeur contributes more in different ways and deserves to be ranked ahead of those guys as well, I don't know. But I don't see any way he climbs to the Dominator level, and that's why I'll continue to step in against anybody who equates the two of them.

Bruce said...

Bruce, we'll just have to agree to disagree.

Yeah, I been there before, will be again, no doubt.

You're obviously much more impressed by basic stats (wins, GAA, team success) that I am...

I suspect that wouldn't be too hard, as you don't seem one bit impressed by any of that stuff.

seems that if a goalie (any goalie) plays 70+ games & has 40+ wins, he has automatically had a good if not elite season, in your view.

Pretty much, but not always. Few coaches are going to trust a bad goalie with 70 GP, and few bad goalies will win 40 of them.

I don't know if you could ever think that a goalie who plays 70+ games & has 40+ wins in a season is a below average or even poor goalie.

Sure I can, and I do. Case in point: Miikka Kiprusoff. Kipper won 45 games this year and some people were touting him for the Vezina -- or assuming that the voters would, and dissing them in advance. But his game has been heading south for quite some time. I would suggest in his case he has responded poorly over time to being overworked. After his one unconscious half-season and incredible playoff run after coming to Calgary from San Jose pre-lockout, he has played 74-76 games per year, and, significantly, 6-7 playoff games. Moreover, his stats have been heading south:

2003-04: 1.69, .933
2005-06: 2.07, .923
2006-07: 2.46, .917
2007-08, 2.69, .906
2008-09: 2.84, .903

So a Brodeur-like workload, but without Brodeur-like consistent results.

The playoffs show a similar trend:

2003-04: 1.85, .928
2005-06: 2.24, .921
2006-07: 2.81, .929
2007-08: 3.21, .908
2008-09: 3.52, .884

Not looking to good for Miikka, 45 wins or no 45 wins.

Bruce said...

Oops, that post got truncated. Carrying on ...

Listing career basic stats, or SV% without adjustment for league avg, really means very little to me.

Statman: It's your loss if you don't pay attention to "basic stats", but I agree context is critical. Like your adjustment for league average, which shows Kiprusoff's Sv% was .022 above league average in the first two seasons, .012 higher in '06-07, and has dropped to -.003 and -.005 below the standard the last two years. Expressed as a percentage of Opp Sh% the drop is somewhat more linear:

MK / NHL = Ratio
-------------------
6.7 / 8.9 = .75
7.7 / 9.9 = .78
8.3 / 9.5 = .87
9.4 / 9.1 = 1.03
9.7 / 9.2 = 1.05

No wonder Flame fans are alarmed. And no wonder Mike Keenan got fired. Whether it was his handling of Kipper that led to those results, or whether he is just an innocent victim of below-average goaltending, is in a sense immaterial. Ironman Miikka didn't get it done, so neither did Iron Mike.

(Too bad we don't have historical official SV% stats... it's misleading to list Brodeur as being third in Shots Against, third in Saves, etc.... 3rd in the last 25 yrs, yes. Anyway.)

I agree it is too bad, but all I can list is what we got, which shows Brodeur comfortably ensconced in the Top 10 of every (positive) category. Leaving Saves/Sv% aside, we still have this, which is complete across all eras:

1st in Wins, 12th in Losses
2nd in GP, 19th in GA

There are era effects, especially on the first in the Bettman Point era, but the good outweighs the bad by such an extraordinary margin to make me sit up and take notice.

My thoughts align with CG for the most part, & he has addressed & re-addressed this arguments over & over; I don't know what more there is to add.

Probably not much at this point, but the debate will continue in due course I'm sure. I'm about argued out for now, you'll be relieved to hear.

It would be interesting if 'shot prevention effects' & 'fitting into the team/affecting team play' etc etc could ever be accurately analyzed & quantified... but until then, I think the evidence indicates that efficiently stopping the puck is the best way to assess goalie skill.

I agree it is the best way, but not that it is the only way. Just because we can't accurately measure things like shots that don't happen (and why) doesn't mean we should discount the effect entirely. Especially when we have an admittedly extreme case like Lehtonen & Hedberg that suggests an impact on Sv% of about .010, a very large amount in a stat that is measured in thousandths of a point. Put another way, the difference between 2nd and 16th among career Sv% leaders, is .0099. You want to judge goalies entirely on their Sv%, be my guest, but I think there's a little more to it.

Did I cite his 2001 playoffs? I don't think so. I don't think I mentioned anything other than his reg season play.

Sorry, Statman, I must have mistaken you with another of the Brodeur-bashers. My mistake.

Bruce said...

As you know, I think Hasek was absolutely terrific, and I see quite a bit of daylight between him and Brodeur.

CG: I too am a huge Hasek fan. Best stopper I've ever seen -- give or take the odd Darius Kasparaitis 30-foot wrister -- and the most exciting goalie as well. You may well be right that even after accounting for style differences etc. that the Dominator rules the roost. I don't, however, think there's quite as much daylight as you do.

I'm sure some misinterpret my comments about that gap to be equating Brodeur to an average goalie, some kind of Osgood type, when I'm really trying to place Marty on the Joseph/Belfour/Vanbiesbrouck level, with Hasek simply a cut above. That's no insult, as those guys were very good goalies.

I'd put Brodeur and Belfour a cut above the other two myself, but that's just opinion obviously.

I also don't think it is improper or insulting to call an average season an average season, whether the goalie in question happens to be Marty, Dom, Patrick or whoever, but there is of course lots to like about Brodeur's career and it all should get factored in.

Yes there is, and yes it should. When an "average" season is 90 standings points and a guaranteed playoff berth, that's a hell of a start. When an "average" season is a GAA in the low 2's, that's pretty alright too. When an "average" season is ~.005 above the league mean Sv% (as was the case in 4 of the 6 "down" years) well I can live with that. If you want to argue that '98-99 and '01-02 were below average years, fine, I will agree they were below his standards. But please don't talk as if he was in the tank for 6 years ... didn't happen.

Statman said...

Bruce: Of course, the problem I see with giving *any* weight to a low GAA (relative to league avg), high SO's, 70 GP, 40 wins etc... when the guy's SV% is avg or below avg (relative to league avg)… is that the shots faced is largely what determines the low GAA & the high SO's... & contributes largely to the wins (in combination to his team's ability to score). Yes SA can be influenced by the goalie but so far the effect doesn't seem to be that dramatic.

[GP may be mainly based on the fact that the backup is worse, that the starter's reputation is inflated, that the team's offense & low SA enables it to win most games so there is no need to 'upgrade' the starter with another goalie (if the team even recognizes that the starter could/should be upgraded is another matter)...]

Quick example… the first goalie faces 25 SA/60:

GP 70
Min/GP 60
MIN 4200
SA/60 25
SA 1500
SVPCT 0.905
OppSHPCT 0.095
GA 142.5
GAA 2.04

(GA = 142.5 ... very quick example!)

The second goalie faces 30 SA/60:

GP 70
Min/GP 60
MIN 4200
SA/60 30
SA 1800
SVPCT 0.905
OppSHPCT 0.095
GA 171
GAA 2.44

Same SVPCT, but quite different GAA. Wins & shutouts are likely to be smaller for the second goalie too.

Do I think Brodeur is a bad or even just ‘average’ goalie? No, not at all. But for the years where his SV% was worse than the league avg, the calculations above show that GAA & subsequently SO’s & wins can look misleadingly good. As you’ve shown with MK, a goalie can have a below-average (below league avg) year & yet still play 70+ games & have a lot of wins & (especially if his team allows few SA) a relatively good GAA -- & that’s why those counting numbers mean little to me. So why even be slightly impressed by 70GP, low GAA, decent SO's etc. when the goalie simply isn't showing at least an avg ability to stop the puck? (And those 'avg'/below 'avg' years of 70GP, 38-42 wins etc. all add up to the high career counting numbers.)

Think I'm done with this for awhile.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:

The only game of the WCFs against NYR where Brodeur truly stood on his head was G7. In the other games he ranged from good to mediocre. I give him a little slack for the 4-0 blowout considering being outshot 40-16, but other goalies considered less skilled (including some really obscure ones) than that have been able to hold such one-sided games much closer on a routine basis (i.e. Bryzgalov, Yann Danis, Vokoun, Hiller, etc.) Just like Luongo, a true elite goalie should be able to stand on his head and steal some when the chips are really down.

Bruce:

The reason the Devils weren't the President's Trophy winners in '01 was the lackluster play of MB, and the reason why the '02 Wings were was the superior play of Hasek. The whole point of the exercise was to rate each team BESIDES goaltenders, and in every imaginable category besides goals allowed and save percentage (such as goals scored and shots faced), the '01 Devils owned.

Don't forget that Patrick Roy (universally considered to be "#2" in greatest-goalies-ever) really stood on his head against the Devils, and that the Avs were playing without their best player, the always-injured basketcase Foppa.

Anonymous said...

"Three trips to the Finals in four years, but let's crucify the guy for that year where he only posted a .600 Win% and a crappy 2.07 GAA. But hey! .897! Look at that. What more evidence do we need that the guy was erratic, tended to fold under the slightest pressure all through those "ordinary" years? He got beat by Patrick Roy? Flog him! The team could have won several more Cups with a proper stopper like Hasek!"

Bruce, is it just coincidental that the year of MB's greatest postseason save percentage (2003), he faced a popgun offensive team that only had its goaltender going for it (Anaheim)--just like the year that Belfour won his cup, he faced likewise in Buffalo? Is it just coincidental that when NJ faced a true offensive juggernaut (Colorado), even though it was missing its best player, Brodeur was awful?

You put Hasek or Giguere in their prime (late '90s and early '00s, respectively) on a team like New Jersey in the early part of this decade, or Detroit through most of this decade and the latter part of the last, and I promise you you see .950 or greater reg-season SPs from both, and .965 or greater playoff SPs.

Anonymous said...

"That's my sense as well. Other than game 5, it was a tight, even series the whole way through, and it pretty much came down to bounces in the end. From the shot charts and the expected goal stats, I'd guess the scoring chances were probably more even than the shot totals. I thought Pittsburgh deserved it with the way they played in game 7, but it could have just as easily gone the other way."

Agreed for the most part. Ozzy stole the first two games, Fleury the last game, games 3,4, and 6 featured fairly equal goalie play that came down to luck on individual scoring chances (though Fleury was at least as good as Ozzy), and game 5, despite being an outlier, was clearly shaped by Ozzy's stand-on-head performance in the first period.

Osgood came to earth in the Finals, and Fleury was able to peak enough at the right time. I probably would no longer consider Ozzy Conn Smythe-worthy like I did after the first two games, but he still had a very successful run and more than held his own against a juggernaut of a team, and showed far greater consistency and toughness than Luongo the whole way.

Anonymous said...

"Sure, and I agree he was pretty good from 1994-1998. I believe I've described his career path as being "upside-down" - good early, good late, average in the middle."

I think that's entirely fair to say. I am a fan of the current Brodeur (esp. considering these are the worst teams [decent, but not great] he has played on of his career), and would rate him ahead of another much-hyped goaltender (one of Italian heritage).