Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Age of Goalie Parity

Here are the post-lockout playoff win/loss records of the top 10 goalies in post-lockout regular season save percentage (minimum 200 regular season games played):

Tomas Vokoun: 1-4
Niklas Backstrom: 3-8
Henrik Lundqvist: 14-16
Tim Thomas: 10-8
Martin Brodeur: 15-22
Roberto Luongo: 17-17
Ryan Miller: 22-18
Ilya Bryzgalov: 12-9
Cristobal Huet: 6-11
Miikka Kiprusoff: 9-16

Combined record: 109-129

That's pretty remarkable, the teams with the top-performing goalies on them have been more likely to lose than to win in the playoffs. And that list certainly makes one wonder why Roberto Luongo seems to take more heat for his playoff team success than the rest of the guys combined, even though only three of them have better win/loss records than he does.

As we all know, factors other than goalie skill contribute heavily to determining the winner, but it's also true that the top performers in a population with a small standard deviation in skill (like NHL goalies) will not have much of an advantage over a relatively small sample size of games (like the NHL playoffs). It's quite possible that the worse goalie outperforms the better goalie in a playoff series, and indeed we've seen it happen several times these playoffs. After all, a difference of .005 in save percentage is just 1 goal every 200 shots, which is a typical number of shots a goalie might face in a seven game series. Niemi outplaying Luongo or Boucher outplaying Brodeur is going to happen a lot more often than most people think.

In today's NHL offence wins championships and pretty much all the goalies in the playoffs are decent. The best goaltenders have not been winning championships and it's not going to happen this year either. Sometimes it really is better to be lucky than to be good.

50 comments:

Anonymous said...

More excuses. Luongo was mediocre at best all year (.913) and HORRIBLE in the playoffs (.899). He very nearly cost the Canucks the first-round series against the vastly inferior Kings and completely came unglued against an equal opponent, the Hawks (and this year the Canucks were every bit as good as the Hawks).

8uongo was not in way over his head this year like he was in 07 against Anaheim or like he was in 09, to a lesser extent, against the Hawks. There is no explanation except that he was simply the weakest performer on a loaded Nucks team.

Anonymous said...

Edit: that should be .895, even worse (for the 2010 playoffs).

Jonathan said...

Luongo was bad this year, there is no question. And yeah, he was .895 in the playoffs this year. But...um...

He was also .914 last year.
And .941 three years ago.

.918 overall.

Of course people will fall for the "error of recency" and attribute more to the Blackhawks series than it deserves, but the fact of the matter is that Luongo is still a very, very good goaltender. Unfortunately, his performance this year cost Vancouver their season. Next year it could be the other way around. Who knows?

Bruce said...

Hmm ... In 2010 the "error of recency" was the Chicago series and the 21 GA in 6 games.

In 2009 the "error of recency" referred to the 7 goals Luongo allowed - blowing 3 leads in the process - in the elimination game, and the 21 GA in 6 games in the Chicago series.

In 2008, the "error of recency" was Luongo caving down the stretch, getting pulled from 3 of his last 6 games (20 GA in what was really 4.4 GP) and losing 7 of his last 8 as Vancouver crashed and burned right out of the playoffs.

In 2007, the "error of recency" was Luongo seiving in his last shot, a 65 footer from the boards by Scott Niedermayer while he was beaking the ref that completely undid what had admittedly been a great performance until then.

Every summer the most "recent" memory of Luongo is one of meltdown and failure at a key point in his team's season. That's 4 out of 4 seasons in Vancouver now, after 6 of never making the playoffs in other cities. Is it any wonder the guy is starting to get a bit of a bad rep?

Hilleraj said...

Being a Toronto-based Leafs homer who rarely watches 'nucks games in the regular season, I came away from this Chicago series with two things in mind.. One: Luongo gets VERY angry over ANY kind of contact in the crease, and shows his obvious displeasure to the refs at every opportunity... and while this might not be a novel remark, it ties in with point number Two: the refs in this series let a LOT of goalie contact go un-called, contact that would result in a penalty during the regular season.

Now, this is in no way supposed to be a bail-out for Lu or the Canucks, since the refs seemed to do a good job of calling (or non-calling) it the same way for both teams... but is this something that was a problem in series from years past as well? I don't recall seeing Lu pushed around anywhere near as much during the Olympics, and it would help explain he plays so well during the regular season, where refs are a lot quicker to blow the whistle over any border-line call. Can anyone who actually watches a lot of Vancouver games verify this (or tell me why I'm an idiot)?

Anonymous said...

Luongo had a .930 even strength sv% which was one of the best in the playoffs. It was the power play and short handed goals that killed him & the team. Now add in that Vancouver was among the playoff leaders for PIM/game for the playoffs and you can see it was the team that killed Luongo, not the other way around.

Derick said...

Bruce, that's because if you don't win the championship your last game is going to be a loss. Nobody remembers Fleury's or Osgood's bad games because they play on good enough teams to win the cup.

I don't know what it is now but Luongo's even strength save percentage for the series was above .930 going into game six. Vancouver's lack of discipline and obnoxious mistakes by their defense was the biggest problem, and the simple fact that Chicago is another top team. Luongo wasn't playing fantastic but he wasn't the weakest link by any means.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

Yeah, Luongo was the same guy at 5 on 5 as usual, in both the regular season and the playoffs. The problem is that the Canucks PK went from below average in the regular season to comically inept in the playoffs. The trick is determining how much of that is the goalie and how much of it is the skaters. Clearly a good deal of PK results come from the goalie, but a lot of playing on the PK is just fighting to stay big in the net to maximize the chance the puck hits you. Bounces play a significant role as well over a series or two.

I'd agree that Luongo didn't do enough to help his team win in games 3 and 4 at home, although there were certainly other factors in the loss (most notably team discipline). If you want to fault him for the way the series ended, I don't really see it. Game 6 this year was different than it was last year, this time the Canucks fell apart and Chicago was easily the better team in the series clincher.

Anonymous said...

No, I fault him for the entirety of both series.

Thanks to Luongo, what should have been a cakewalk matchup against the Kings instead went to six games. The Hawks were a far stronger team to be sure, but this was a really excellent Vancouver team this year--possibly the best Vancouver team ever, even more so than the '94 squad. It is true that Vancouver had some blueline injuries, but a really outstanding goaltender should be able to come up huge for at least part of a series to make up for that sort of thing.

Jonathan said...

"what should have been a cakewalk matchup against the Kings"

*facepalm*

Have you even been following the playoffs this year? No playoff team is a cakewalk. Montreal and Philadelphia are arguably the two weakest playoff teams in years, and even they haven't been easy outs.

Jonathan said...

"In 2009 the "error of recency" referred to the 7 goals Luongo allowed - blowing 3 leads in the process - in the elimination game, and the 21 GA in 6 games in the Chicago series."

Thereby ignoring his obliteration of St. Louis shooters in the first round.
----------
"In 2008, the "error of recency" was Luongo caving down the stretch, getting pulled from 3 of his last 6 games (20 GA in what was really 4.4 GP) and losing 7 of his last 8 as Vancouver crashed and burned right out of the playoffs."

This was a combination error of recency and multiple endpoint fallacy. I'm not sure what you consider so special about the "last six games" cutoff, but he was also pulled in 3 of his last 7, 3 of his last 8...4 of his last 20, and 6 out of 73 games overall. His save% for the year was 91.7%, so it's absurd to fault him for an unsuccessful regular season.

"In 2007, the "error of recency" was Luongo seiving in his last shot, a 65 footer from the boards by Scott Niedermayer while he was beaking the ref that completely undid what had admittedly been a great performance until then."
This of course ignores the fact that he was generally a beast during that entire playoff year with a .941 overall mark. I could have used that as evidence that Luongo is Captain Clutch, but I won't because it's silly to judge any player on 12 cherry-picked games.

Oh, and he was 56-for-58 that game. But yeah, sure, let's just pretend that one goal says more about his overall performance in that game than his...um...overall performance.

"Every summer the most "recent" memory of Luongo is one of meltdown and failure at a key point in his team's season. That's 4 out of 4 seasons in Vancouver now, after 6 of never making the playoffs in other cities. Is it any wonder the guy is starting to get a bit of a bad rep?"

It's not a wonder at all. When people judge you on the last thing you do every year, you're going to get a bad rap if you're one of the 29 teams that doesn't win the Stanley Cup. If you happen to be one of the 3% of all players who is celebrating at the end of the year, then apparently you can get away with a lot without losing your rep as a "big game player."

Anonymous said...

Luongo's save percentqage at even strength in the playoffs this year was .930. Among the 16 starters (17 if you count Price), that puts him at 5th overall, far ahead of both Nieme and Quick. So tell me again how the Canucks loss is more Luongo's fault then it is the teams complete inability to stay out of the penalty box? Obviously he struggled on the PK, but Vancity was 15th of the 16 teams in terms of total PIMs thus far, so he got no help there.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

It is true that Vancouver had some blueline injuries, but a really outstanding goaltender should be able to come up huge for at least part of a series to make up for that sort of thing.

To suggest Luongo never had any good games or never played well for any stretch of the Chicago series is ridiculous. Vancouver did have a good team this year, but Chicago was both better overall and in the series. That's why they won.

Having said that, please read the above post again. Note the win/loss records of the goalies listed. They are all very good goalies (except for Huet, I guess, but even he still had a pretty good run for a few seasons), and yet they combined for a losing record in the playoffs. They were unable to make up for "that sort of thing" for their teams, so why aren't you ripping all of them too?

It is unreasonable to expect a goalie to win a playoff series where his team got unplayed, even if he is a great goalie. Just look at the evidence, it rarely happens. People tend to celebrate the few times it does happen (e.g. Jaroslav Halak) and use that to scrutinize goalies who don't have a history of team success, but the fact of the matter is that scoring chances and puck luck decide almost every playoff series.

Agent Orange said...

If I've learned anything about this site its that no matter what its all about stopping the puck.

Luongo didn't stop enough pucks.

I'll use CGs metric to evaluate Luongo, the win threshold.

Vancouver
SA/60: 30.72
GF/60: 3.26
Win Threshold: 0.894

Its a small sample size but its what we have to go off of for evaluating Luongo in this playoff.

I'll echo my frequent comment on Luongo on this board. I don't think he is a bad goalie. He may be the best regular season goalie in the NHL. However he has a bad habit of playing at a level lower than expected in important games/situations.

Just looking quickly at his game logs if Luongo had played at his 0.918 sv% level the Kings would have been beaten in 5 and the Hawks/Nucks would be playing a game 7.

CG: One quick question to help myself with your understanding. When you said Chicago was a better overall team do you consider the respective goaltenders in this evaluation? Or is this just comparing skaters?

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

Luongo did stop a below-average number of pucks, that's correct. That is reason to criticize him, and nobody here is saying he played great. The mitigating factor is the EV/PK split. How much you think he should be blamed for Vancouver's terrible PK determines whether you rate his play as average or awful.

Chicago's a better overall team than Vancouver, goaltenders included. Remove the goalies and the gap is even more pronounced. Copper 'N Blue had the scoring chances in that series at 132-114, and I didn't even think Chicago played all that well for much of it.

Agent Orange said...

Thanks for the response CG.

Maybe I should have been clear in my question about overall team play.

I was more interested in your eval going into the series. Did you think Chicago was significantly better than Vancouver goalies included?

Personally I thought overall they were pretty even. Slight edge to Chicago maybe. This however assumes that Luongo would have played at his normal regular season level.

What are your thoughts?

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

I gave a moderate edge to Chicago. I think Chicago has a definite talent advantage, which is shown by how dominant they were in the first half of the season. Having said that Chicago hasn't been playing at that level for some time now, which is why I thought Vancouver had a real chance to beat them, but I did think they needed to have the percentages on their side to be able to do it and goaltending is a big part of that.

Up until game six the series was actually quite close, Chicago was winning mainly because of special teams, but game 6 was a blowout on the ice and on the scoreboard.

Anonymous said...

I will say it again, it's not that I hate Luongo, it's just that I don't think he is a superstar who warrants his great reputation. He is good, not great. He had ONE jaw-dropping season in Florida, two or three other very good ones, and several that were okay. Yes, he is well better than average, but he doesn't come close to earning the hype he gets. (Even Martin Brodeur doesn't have the hype he does anymore.)

I'll give you five netminders I'd take ahead of Luo for a critical playoff game, regardless of team strength, any day:

Halak (even before this playoff run)
Vokoun
Hiller
Kiprusoff
Lundqvist

I might even throw in Jimmy Howard, Bryzgalov, and Ryan Miller while I am at it.

Anonymous said...

"Chicago hasn't been playing at that level for some time now, which is why I thought Vancouver had a real chance to beat them"

... and the reason they did not (at least the single biggest one) is Roberto Luongo.

What do all of the truly great goalies of the past fifteen years (i.e. Hasek, Brodeur, Giguere, Roy, Kiprusoff, arguably even Osgood [look at his 2009 performance if nothing else]) have in common? All of them have demonstrated the ability to "steal" at least one, and often several, playoff series from better teams. Count on your hand the number of times 8uongo has done that; ZERO. All three of his series wins have been against equal (Dallas), inferior (St. Louis), or grossly inferior (Los Angeles) hockey clubs. Why is that?

You are correct to point out that Chicago outplayed Vancouver for the series in '10, but the margin was slight. All that was needed for the Canucks to win, or at least take it to a game 7, was for Luongo to play a little bit better than Antti Niemi--not a huge order. In fact, if he had even just been EQUAL to Niemi, a game 7 would have been really likely.

Tell me the number of times where Luongo has come up big in a situation like Hasek's Game 1 against Ottawa in '99, in which he stopped something like 64 of 65 games against the Senators (yes his G5 against Anaheim came close, but it wasn't the same thing), Hiller's Game 4 against the Sharks in '09 (36/36 shots stopped)--let alone Halak's miracle series against both the Caps and the Pens. An outstanding goalie can do that at least once in his career.

Anonymous said...

*I meant 64 of 65 SHOTS needless to say

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

So you agree that Chicago outplayed Vancouver, and yet you claim that the single biggest reason the Canucks lost was Luongo? You just don't appear to have a realistic view of the range of results for either an elite goalie or an average goalie.

Exactly how was Luongo's 2007 G5 not the same thing as Hasek's 1999 G1 (which was actually 40/41)? Because the Sabres scored more than one goal and won in it regulation? Because the Ottawa Senators were a much better playoff team than the Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks?

Luongo is no Hasek or Roy. He has just been a very good goalie for a long time. He obviously has the ability to play great, look at his save percentage and his shutout numbers on weak teams. The simple fact that his team is 1-3 in playoff series against teams with better records is not nearly enough evidence to prove that he can't do well in the playoffs.

Agent Orange said...

I think what the latest anon is saying that the chi skaters outplayed the van skaters as was expected.

Coming in if you ignore goalies chicago was imo a hands down better team. The only wan van was going to win was if Luongo outplayed Neimi (spell?).

Chicago outplayed Van as expected but Lu didn't outplay AN. They were basically even based on save % (ignore #/quality of shots for arguements sake).

If you look at it as Luongos job was to outplay Neimi then he didn't get his job done. I think if you told anyone before the series that goaltending would be even in sv % they would pick chicago.

Its not to say Luongo played poorly from start to finish in the series but he didn't really steal any games.

R O said...

I can't believe that it's a controversial idea that a great goalie might have a bad game.

Here's a pro tip for all the dreamers: every game is important. Game 1, is as important as game 82. And the playoff games, as important as they seem to be, well the regular season games are nearly as important when you consider the separation (by points) of regular season standings.

I dislike Luongo intensely, I think he whines and dives and is just generally not a likeable hockey player. So it's entirely possible he's not a likeable person. But he's a terrific goaltender.

I get the feeling some of these Anons (and Bruce) dislike Luongo so much that they'll just pile on him for imagined failures. And yes, they are miagined, because damn if every goaltender doesn't have a bad game over thee course of 80-100 games, and damn if they can actually control which games they are bad in.

Final note: if I'm going to step into an Anon's shoes, then I'm going to have a lot to explain how Luongo won the gold-medal game when he let in that last-minute goal. Was he clutch, or not? And how do we interpret that in his Win-Loss record?

Fallacies and contradictions would abound.

Anonymous said...

It was not just the Chicago series, it was the Kings series too. In fact I might argue that Luongo was even worse against them. Luongo was pretty bad that whole entire series. He got a lot of credit for being decent (not great--great would be a shutout against the Kings) in game 6, but in actuality he singlehandedly caused the Canucks to be in a hole for much of that game. His offense (the Sedin twins and Mikael Samuelsson) bailed him out of that one--luckily for him, the Kings D was primarily made up of kids that had no answer for them.

There is simply no reason in the world why Vancouver couldn't have taken Los Angeles down authoritatively in five games, if not in a sweep.

Yes, Chicago outplayed the Canucks for much of (certainly not all) of the series, but the difference was quite slight, and more than capable of being compensated for by a star goaltender--which Luongo, most definitely, isn't.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

Who are the star goalies in the NHL, then, if Luongo isn't one?

I almost titled this post something along the lines of "The Importance of Comparing Against Other Goalies". Maybe I should have done so, because apparently some aren't getting that point.

It's easy to run a guy down if all you do is scrutinize his mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes, that's a given, the question is how many did he make and are the other guys in his weight class making more or less than him? If all you focus on is just that one guy's mistakes then you aren't in any position to proper analyze or evaluate the guy. You just don't have any sense of context.

Please, come up with a list, and let's see whether those guys have a flawless record in all postseason situations. If they don't, then apparently they must not be star goalies, after all.

(Again, I agree with you that Luongo was nothing special in these playoffs, but the insinuation that somehow invalidates him as a top goalie is absurd.)

R O said...

There is simply no reason in the world why Vancouver couldn't have taken Los Angeles down authoritatively in five games, if not in a sweep.

I'm sorry, what?

Vancouver was a decent 5on5 team this year (buoyed by some late-season play, around 60 games in they were positively mediocre) and their track record in that department over the last two seasons is nothing special. They have been buoyed up by unsustainable shooting percentages. Lucky twice in a row, it happens.

Meanwhile LA was a decent team at 5 on 5 this year too.

So no, there is no midpoint reasonable expectation that says Vancouver should have taken LA in 4. That's just ludicrous.

So is your opinion on Luongo's goaltending abilities.

Anonymous said...

At least Luongo was able to hold it together long enough to sweep St. Louis last year. This year's Kings are an inferior team to last year's Blues.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

I guess that explains some of your unreasonable expectations for the L.A. series. You are badly, badly, badly underrating the Kings.

They were a 101 point team in one of the toughest divisions in hockey, good for the 9th best record in the league. The Kings had a true goal differential (minus SO and EN goals) of +17, 8th in the NHL. I've seen other more complex ratings that had the Kings as high as 7th in the league (e.g. Jeff Sagarin). There is no doubt that the Kings were a top-10 team in the league this year. Even if you rate the Canucks at #3, expecting them to sweep another top-10 team is just irrational.

The '08-09 Blues were an average team, they ranked 15th in points and goal differential and they needed a good deal of shooting luck to do even that. When you miss the playoffs the year before and the year after with mostly the same players, it kind of hammers home the point that they weren't a very good team.

Still, without Luongo playing amazing last year's Canucks would not have swept the Blues. Vancouver would have probably won the series regardless, but St. Louis definitely played well enough to win a game or two.

Expecting a sweep in any series is unrealistic. There hasn't been a single one in the 2010 playoffs. Once again, you have to compare to the general population. If you don't, you're just being biased at best and stupid at worst.

Bruce said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bruce said...

It was not just the Chicago series, it was the Kings series too. In fact I might argue that Luongo was even worse against them.

Luongo vs. Kings .893
Luongo vs. Hawks .897

I get the feeling some of these Anons (and Bruce) dislike Luongo so much that they'll just pile on him for imagined failures.

R O: First of all, "like" doesn't have a whole lot to do with it. Like you, I am judging him on performance, not on the notion that I think he's a douchebag. But that performance has been miserable in the decisive group of games that have ended each of Vancouver's last three seasons. It's not just an isolated bad game here or there.

Of course goalies can have bad games. One bad game is not usually going to cost you a series. Halak, Nabokov, and Niemi all had bad games in the second round. But if you have more bad games than good games, you're in trouble.

One might expect in a series where one goalie has 8 times the cap hit of the other goalie, that the guy making the big bucks should provide an advantage to his team. It's the whole point of paying a supposed superstar the big bucks. I sure in the hell didn't see any advantage between the pipes for Vancouver. For the second year running, the Canucks gave Luongo 3 goals a game of scoring support against Chicago. And for the second year running, Chicago lit up Luongo for 3.5 goals per game.

Not just him obviously, it's a team thing, but if you saw Luongo as a positive difference maker in that series, well, I don't think we watch the games the same way whatsoever.

R O said...

Not just him obviously, it's a team thing, but if you saw Luongo as a positive difference maker in that series, well, I don't think we watch the games the same way whatsoever.

I didn't see Luongo's performance as a positive difference maker for the Canucks.

The crux here is, how much of that bad performance does he own? These variations in puck-stopping... well they're just not persistent over time. Call that luck or chance or the whim of the Hockey Gods or metabolic highs and lows or good and bad days or whatever... point is it will exert its heavy influence over these short sample sizes, nothing anybody can do about it.

So there's no point really blaming Luongo. His long-term track record points to a difference maker in nets. The nature of the position is uncontrollable volatility over the short term. What can you do at that point other than say "better luck next year"?

Bruce said...

If it's all luck and random variations, then there's no point in crediting or blaming anyone. Or even watching.

But if I know you, R O, you'll find a way to hang it all on Alex Burrows.

R O said...

If it's all luck and random variations, then there's no point in crediting or blaming anyone. Or even watching.

But if I know you, R O, you'll find a way to hang it all on Alex Burrows.


Funny, Bruce, I figured the opposite. If it's all about the final score, why bother watching. Anybody can look up the boxscore.

Anonymous said...

And what were some of the reasons why the Kings were "so good" this year in their conference and division?

--injury-and penalty-fueled meltdowns by Anaheim and Dallas in the Pacific
--Detroit being nonexistent for the first half of the year
--a good (but nowhere near Norris) year by Drew Doughty

Forget the deep analyses for a second--this was a case where seedings did not lie. Los Angeles was a lower-seeded team that earned its lower seeding. I was really hoping they would knock off Vancouver, and at times it looked like they were coming close to that, but they were just a considerably worse team.

Anonymous said...

The only goaltender, off the top of my head, who is more overrated than Luongo is Marc-Andre Flounder. If anybody is earning his paycheque less than 8uongo, it's gotta be Flounder.

With a .905 RS and .891 playoff save percentage, why anybody continues to heap any praise on Flounder is beyond me. He plays on a stacked team--the envy of any goaltender, and still lets in softies like there's no tomorrow. He got pulled in game 7 against Montreal (4 goals on 13 shots), which really was the story of his entire season. He is one of the biggest reason why the Pens, despite all of their talent, were only the fourth rank in the Eastern Conference, and he is certainly the biggest reason why his team is now watching cartoons all day. (He would have caused the Pens to lose the first round too, if it wasn't for Bettman's refs completely throwing the games against Ottawa.)

If Flounder played on a league-average team, what would his SP and GAA be? .750 and 5.8? And this is the netminder that many people wanted to start for Canada in the Olympics, what a laugh that was!

I'd like to see you critique Flounder as heavily as you do Brodeur for a change. If Brodeur is a fraud, then Fleury is Bernie Madoff.

R O said...

Forget the deep analyses for a second

See we can't even take you seriously here anymore. You're advocating being simple-minded. You know who advocates being simple-minded? Simple minds.

Anonymous said...

"What can you do at that point other than say "better luck next year"?"

We've been telling the Canucks that for going on three years, RO. The only playoff loss that I really do not think was Luongo's fault at all was 2007, against Anaheim. Lou has not faced a comparable mismatch since then--his opponents have all been either inferior, equal, or slightly better. Has he done any better since?

--2008 final-stretch meltdown, pulled in 4 of last 7 starts, causes team to miss playoffs
--2009 collapse against Chicago after beating a weak Blues
--2010 highly mediocre regular season; nearly blows series against a weak Kings, succumbs to an equal opponent in Chicago

How many "better luck next year"s do there have to be before Vancouver frees up a buttload of cap space by trading 8uongo and signing a better, less primadonna goaltender (like his backup, Raycroft)?

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

I'd like to see you critique Flounder as heavily as you do Brodeur for a change.

I've been critical of Fleury pretty often here. You have go back all of four posts to find my latest post bashing the idea that Fleury is clutch.

If Fleury played on a league average team, his save percentage and GAA would be about the same. The difference would be that Crosby and Malkin wouldn't be scoring for him, so his win total would drop substantially.

How many "better luck next year"s do there have to be before Vancouver frees up a buttload of cap space by trading 8uongo and signing a better, less primadonna goaltender (like his backup, Raycroft)?

You'd take Raycroft over Luongo. And people actually say that Luongo is overrated?

Anonymous said...

"If Fleury played on a league average team, his save percentage and GAA would be about the same."

Flounder has a dominant, firewagon team in front of him, protecting his butt (when his butt isn't pushing pucks into the net that is) and giving him an easy time. If he had a less-easy time, let alone a below-average time, this clown would be completely humiliated. As it is he has been anyway.

Do you or do you not agree that this clown is the single most overrated goalie in today's NHL?

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

Fleury is definitely one of the most overrated goalies in the league. I'm not sure whether he is the most, the ratings seem to be changing after the results of every playoff series and that makes it hard to tell.

However, I don't really see Pittsburgh as making it that much easier on their goalies defensively. The two Penguins teams that went to the Finals were below average in shot prevention in both of those regular seasons. Team discipline has been pretty average. I don't think there's much reason to suspect any significant shot quality impact.

If the Penguins were amazing defensively, then we should expect to see the other goalies have great stats there. Over the last three seasons, here is Fleury compared to his backups:

Fleury: 2.59, .911
Backups: 2.72, .909

Those numbers suggest an average goalie on an average defence. Fleury isn't an amazing clutch performer, but he's not a useless goalie either. I think you're going too far in your criticism.

Agent Orange said...

The Canucks this year and in the Chicago series last year have shown why it is dangerous to build a team around a goalie.

When your superstar player is a forward and he goes into a slump there are 8-11 other guys who can pick up the slack.

When your goalie goes into a slump you don't always have somewhere to turn. Especially when your back-up only gets 6-7 games a season.

I will never condone any amount of playing time for Andrew Raycroft but it does make you wonder if the Nucks were a little hasty failing to resign Jason Labarbara. In limited action in his career he has been solid at worst and could develop into a solid goalie if given a chance.

It would be interesting to see what the Canucks would have been able to do with a solid Labarbara in net and $4 million in additional cap space.

I mean it isn't a shocking concept. Look at Detroits model since the lock-out. $2 mill on goalies. 4 good defenseman, 9 good fowards and 5 grinders. All that has done is gotten them to 2 finals (1 cup) and an extra WCF.

Anonymous said...

"I will never condone any amount of playing time for Andrew Raycroft"

Hey, he had a damn good year. I bet the Canucks would be playing the Sharks right now in the conference finals if they had started him after Luongo laid a few eggs.

Jonathan said...

By the way, here's how every goalise ended 2009:

First round losers: Lundqvist was terrible in three games, blowing a 3-1 series lead by getting pulled in games 5 and 6, then losing game 7.
Biron blew a 3-goal lead late and lost IN REGULATION to get eliminated in six games. Our friend Brodeur snatched a 2-1 lead in game 7 from the jaws of victory, and gave up two late goals to lose 3-2. Scary Price, Steve Mason, Nabokov, and Kiprusoff were brutal all series long.

Second round: Varlamov was pulled after giving up 4 goals on 12 shots or something like that. Luongo was a nightmare against the Blackhawks.

ECF & SCF: Cam Ward let in that Charmin soft goal on Max Talbot, where he kinda swatted at the puck with his glove. He was great for 2 round but then he got to the ECF and got humiliated. Same with Khabiboulin, getting curbstomped in 5 games. Osgood let in the game winning goal on Max Talbot because e was about 8 miles away from being properly positioned on that goal.

So that leaves us with Jonas Hiller, Tim Thomas, Christ Mason, and MAF as the only goalies who didn't "choke" as badly as Luongo "chokes." And that's without going into the notion that "well they lost, they must not have played well." This year? MAF cost Pittsburgh the series against the Habs, Mason was so-so and missed the playoffs, Hiller was very good but missed the playoffs, and Thomas has been on the bench most of the year.

Conclusion: pretty much anybody in the world can be seen as a choke atist when that person's failures are analyzed in a vacuum.

Jonathan said...

On NHL 2004, I moved Hawaii to Honolulu just for the sheer irony of having an Atlantic division team play in the Pacific Ocean. In dynasty mode, I won the Stanley Cup with Raycroft as my starting goaltender. He won the Vezina, the Hart, and the Smythe. Brandon Reid was my best forward.

Anonymous said...

Is there an absolute reason why Raycroft couldn't win a Cup on a good team? He was very decent this season--nothing spectacular, but altogether solid.

Agent Orange said...

Raycroft was average this season, at best. You need to look beyond the stat line.

Season stats

RL 0.913 sv % 2.57 gaa
AR 0.911 sv % 2.42 gaa

Looks like a pretty good arguement for a cheaper goalie on the surface but look at Raycrofts numbers in games started by Luongo,

0.949 sv % 1.07 gaa in 169 minutes played.

Raycroft was able to pad the stats coming in on garbage time after Luongo got shelled. This was about 17.5% of Raycrofts total minutes.

Compare the two in games started and you see who the better goalie is.

RL 0.913 sv % 2.57 gaa.
AR 0.905 sv % 2.71 gaa.

This is a noticeable difference.

Jonathan said...

Raycroft was decent in less than 1000 minutes of playing time (comes out to a total of 16 games played). That's not a reliable sample size.

He's spent the rest of his career right around a 90.0% save percentage. Raycroft really isn't starting goalie material.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

Is there an absolute reason why Raycroft couldn't win a Cup on a good team? He was very decent this season--nothing spectacular, but altogether solid.

I don't know, is a post-lockout save percentage of .890 an absolute reason?

If your team is good enough than almost anybody can win the Cup, but I think it's correct to say that almost any starter or backup goalie in the league would give you a better chance of winning than Andrew Raycroft.

nightfly said...

Remember always the first rule of goaltending... "You can never win the game, you can only lose it."

From the start of expansion to the lockout, you could count on one hand the number of below-average goalies who won the Cup (though there, winning the Cup tends to enhance one's reputation, so it's up for debate how "average" average really is there). Even the "poor" goalies on the list usually had good postseasons, outperforming their expectations. (I'd put MAF's win last year on that list.)

I think in the playoffs that good goaltending can never help you as much as bad goaltending will hurt you.

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