Saturday, December 26, 2009

Why Do So Many Dumb Things Get Written About Chris Osgood?

The official website of the National Hockey League named Chris Osgood as the Second Team All-Star goalie on the NHL's All-Decade Team (hat tip to an anonymous poster on this blog for passing along the link).

That is so mind-boggling that it really shouldn't require much further comment for any rational individual. But if you want to see some numbers just to drill the point home, here are the GAAs of Chris Osgood and Roberto Luongo in both the regular season and the playoffs from 1999-00 to 2009-10:

Regular Season: Osgood 2.56, Luongo 2.56
Playoffs: Osgood 2.05, Luongo 2.09

Even if one was so crazy as to use goal prevention as the sole criterion, it's still barely possible to make the argument for Osgood over Luongo, when you consider that Luongo played in a lot more games. Think for more than a nanosecond about their respective teammates and team situations and it's completely obvious who is far better.

If you want to argue about the value of save percentages for someone like Martin Brodeur, who brings more to the table than just stopping pucks that's fine, but this is Chris Osgood. Over the last decade Osgood's numbers read .912 at EV and .871 on the PK. Luongo's .929 at EV and .887 on the PK. And we're talking about a sample size of over 13,000 shots for Osgood and nearly 18,000 shots for Luongo, i.e. no doubt at all that there is a massive gulf between the two goalies.

Multiply the save percentage differential over Luongo's workload, and you get a difference of 275 goals, or nearly 30 goals per season. That's the equivalent of something like 50-55 wins. A team would be 10 points better in the standings every year with Luongo in net than with Osgood. On a per-game basis, that's a difference of about half a goal per game. Yet somehow a difference in playoff winning percentage of .073 between the two goalies is enough to make up for all of that.

Basically, this guy is saying that the scoring proficiency of a goalie's team means an awful lot more than saving an extra half a goal per game, based on the time-worn journalistic principle of assigning all team results to the account of their goaltender. Yet I'm sure nobody would dare rank one skater ahead of another if the first guy had averaged 30 fewer points per season than the other guy for an entire decade, regardless of any difference between them in terms of Cups or team success.

For illustrative purposes, here are the players who averaged 0.5 PPG less over the past 10 years than All-Decade First Team All-Star Joe Sakic:

Pierre-Marc Bouchard
Jonathan Cheechoo
Ulf Dahlen
Joe Pavelski
Gary Roberts
Todd White

And the same thing for fellow First Team All-Star Jarome Iginla:

Chris Higgins
Jan Hlavac
Bobby Holik
Sami Kapanen
Steve Konowalchuk
Sergei Zholtok

Now obviously scoring totals are not complete assessments of player values, but I think the point is pretty obvious. I'm not sure Osgood would make my Fifteenth All-Decade Team, as I'd take any of Luongo, Brodeur, Giguere, Kiprusoff, Hasek, Roy, Vokoun, Kolzig, Belfour, Nabokov, Lundqvist, Turco, Roloson, Khabibulin, Thomas or Theodore ahead of him. Maybe a couple of others as well.


Justin said...

You might want to don your firesuit for this one, CG. (Not from me; I agree with you.)

Jonathan said...

I wonder why Patrick Elias isn't on that list. All he ever did is win two Cups in New Jersey. Isn't a top line center just as important as a solid goalie? And arguably more scarce? [/sarcasm]

Nothing against Ozzie or Elias, but come. on.

BrianW said...

But CG, he just wins...

Frighteningly enough, Osgood frequently comes up in hall-of-fame discussions. Had the Wings won the cup last year, I'm guessing he would've become a lock. Would he be the worst player ever to get in?

Concurrently, he also comes up frequently in discussions of "most underrated." My lord.

Jonathan said...

"Multiply the save percentage differential over Luongo's workload, and you get a difference of 275 goals, or nearly 30 goals per season. That's the equivalent of something like 50-55 wins."

Would it be accurate for me to extrapolate from this statement that, in the long run, a goalie "saves" a win for every five goals tat he doesn't give up? i.e. 5 goals = 1 win?

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

Yes, depending on scoring level the general rule of thumb is an improvement of 5-6 in goal differential equals one win.

Anonymous said...

I'd rate Ozzy as being about on par with Roloson, maybe a little worse. was way off-base, but he did play a big role in taking a Wings team that was inferior to the '08 one to game seven of the Finals.

My opinion is that the first/second goaltenders of the decade should be Giguere/Luongo or Giguere/Brodeur. Giguere is the closest thing this decade had to the greatest goaltender of all time, the Dominator.

Derick said...

Hey CG! Long time reader, first comment. I'm a Sharks fan, and I thought Nabokov was one of the best goalies until I read your site. I can't put my team enthusiasm ahead of reason. I'm a big fan of your site. It's great to see rational, conextual, objective analysis of hockey instead of tired cliches.

Anyway, I was wondering if you have thoughts on skaters who get accused of the same sorts of things as Luongo. For instance, do you agree with the general perception that Thornton is the worst clutch player ever and therefore his regular season achievements are meaningless? I personally think those things are overstated.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

Derick: I generally won't believe any player is clutch or not clutch until there is a whole lot of evidence in favour of that position. Now with Thornton there actually is a fair bit of evidence to suggest he can't score at the same level in the playoffs than in the regular season. The difference is of course overstated by many, but there might be something there.

Even if that is the case, the big question mark is how much that has to do with Thornton himself. It could be that his team played differently in the playoffs, or that his wingers played poorly, or that playmakers are more susceptible to playoff scoring drops because their performance depends on others, or some other similar factor.

I've seen enough former "playoff chokers" finally break out big in the playoffs that I don't think Thornton's playoff history would stop me from building my team around him, or selecting him for the Olympics. Regular season performance is certainly not meaningless.

Lawrence said...

"Giguere is the closest thing this decade had to the greatest goaltender of all time, the Dominator."

This is some very, very, serious delusion.

Justin said...

I assume he's basing that off that shutout streak in the playoffs. I don't know if that constitutes what he's asserting, though.

I'm still of the opinion that there hasn't been anyone comparable to Hašek before or since. I'll stop short of saying there may never be, of course.

Anonymous said...

"This is some very, very, serious delusion."

How is it a serious delusion? Giguere carried some bad Ducks teams on his back, led the team to within one game of the Cup (like Hasek), and won the Cup as soon as he got on a great team--like Hasek. That is why I said he is the closest thing this decade has had to Hasek in his prime.

Who would you call this decade's Hasek?

Justin said...

Giguere's backup had even better stats than Giguere in 2002-2003, though. Not so in any sense during Hašek's monster 1998-1999 season. It's any wonder to me that they let Roloson have any minutes at all in the playoffs, actually.

overpass said...

I suspect I know's selection process for their goaltenders of the decade. They applied one simple filter* to the list and sorted by wins.

Their full list was:

Everyone else

*They did not apply this filter when picking skaters.

Lawrence said...

First, I think saying "X is this decades Hasek is a little silly" because it's crazy to try to say that one arbitrary 10 year period of time has more relevance than another because of a calender.

Second, because Hasek was this decades Hasek for 7 professional years out of 9, with 6 being in the NHL. Now, I know people are going to say "but these were not his best years"... which is true, but they are still a portion of his career, which is why it's a "career". You're good at points and average/injured at others. See point 1.

Third, Giguere has had what? 3 good years out of ten? and one amazing playoff run. This is qualified by ev sv%, primarily...I should add (for largest sample). Other than one season (07-08) his ev sv% has been closer to average than Hasek. and...MAYBE 05/06 when he was 5th behind Huet, Kipper, Vokoun...and oh, Hasek.

.916 (.904)-09/10
.910 (.900)-08/09
.940 (.922)-07/08
.926 (.918) -06/07
.933 (.911) -05/06
.921 (.914) -03/04
.??? (.920) -02/03
.??? (.920) -01/02
.??? (.911) -00/01

Giguere has been top 3 in ev sv% once! in 9 years (in 07/08) that is hardly dominant, and his career has been over for the last two years. So he was elite for 6 of a 9 year career? Hasek was dominant for at least double that @ 12...if not 13 years.

Hell, even Kiprusoff has been top three in ev sv% in 06/07, 05/06, 03/04 and he's 5th it's possible for 4 in a 6 year career and he's not even comparable to someone like Hasek, but that's much more dominant than Giguere.