Sunday, March 18, 2007

Playoff Goalies - Team Effects

Team effects must always be considered when evaluating goalies. Some of the key considerations are goal support, amount of shots faced, and difficulty of shots faced. Lacking detailed information about shot quality, we will have to make due with simpler measures based on simply the number of shots. Other variables are slim chance games (described in the last post), as well as cheap wins and tough losses, statistics that measure how often the win or loss was unfairly credited to the goaltender, given his actual performance.

Cujo 2.34, Belfour 2.44, Brodeur 2.46, Hasek 2.65, Roy 2.89

Cujo played for four teams, none of which provided him with a high number of goals for. Even the high-powered Red Wings let him down, scoring just 1.71 goals per game with Cujo in their net. Hasek's ranking here is surprisingly high. That is not just from his 2002 Detroit Cup run either; even on the Sabres, his career support was 2.59 goals per game. Hasek fans might argue, however, that one of the reasons for the Sabres' scoring was the ability to take additional risks because of the presence of Hasek in net. Brodeur also ranks higher than one might have thought, given the Devils reputation as a boring, low-scoring team, but some of his teams were actually excellent offensively, particularly the 2000 Cup winners. Roy's amount of time spent playing in the 1980s helped inflate his goal support, although he played most of his career on good teams.

Shots Against per 60 Minutes:
Cujo 29.1, Roy 28.1, Hasek 27.6, Belfour 26.9, Brodeur 23.8

Average Outshot Margin:
Cujo 0.9, Hasek 0.5, Roy -0.3, Belfour -0.7, Brodeur -5.7

Four of them are pretty close, and then there is Brodeur. Facing almost six shots less than the other goalie every game is certainly a nice advantage to have. In addition, Brodeur has averaged under 24 shots against per game in his playoff career, over three shots less than any of the others. Clearly, he had it a lot easier than his peers.

Slim chance games:
Belfour 17, Roy 14, Hasek 9, Cujo 9, Brodeur 1

Again, it is almost phenomenal how well the Devils have protected Brodeur throughout the last decade. A slim chance game is a game where an excellent goalie would be expected to lose to a replacement level goalie, so to win such a game requires the goalie to be outstanding AND the opposing goalie to be well below average. For Belfour and Hasek, around 10% of their games were this type of situation, a significant handicap. Brodeur has only played in one of them in his entire playoff career.

Cheap wins:
Roy 7, Belfour 6, Brodeur 5, Cujo 2, Hasek 0

Tough losses:
Belfour 18, Roy 16, Brodeur 14, Cujo 13, Hasek 6

Of the five, Curtis Joseph clearly had the biggest team handicap. He faced the most shots and had the least goals scored for him. He also had the highest rate of tough losses to games played, and very few cheap wins. Even though he faced relatively few shots per game (26.9), Ed Belfour had the second worst goal support, as well as the most slim chance games and tough losses. The stats indicate that Hasek's Sabres weren't as bad a team as many remember, but Hasek faced his share of tough situations, and never had the benefit of recording a cheap win. Roy played for some pretty good teams, and interestingly enough his statistics are quite similar behind the Canadiens and the Avalanche, indicating that those Canadiens teams were probably underrated by many. Brodeur's advantage in terms of team effects is remarkable, and a testament to the sustained excellence of the New Jersey Devils. This advantage must be taken into account when evaluating his career performance.

Overall Team Effects (ranked hardest to easiest):
1. Cujo
2. Belfour
3. Hasek
4. Roy
5. Brodeur