Friday, April 22, 2011

What's Going on Out West?

So far in the Stanley Cup playoffs, there has been a pretty stark contrast in goalie numbers between the two Conferences.

Eastern Conference: 2.04 GAA, .931 save %
Western Conference: 3.26 GAA, .893 save %

If you rank the starters in order of save percentage, here's the breakdown based on their conference:

1. East
2. East
3. East
4. East
5. East
6. East
7. West
8. East
9. West
10. East
11. West
12. West
13. West
14. West
15. West
16. West

Even more surprisingly, the top 3 goalies out West in save percentage thus far are Corey Crawford, Ray Emery and Jimmy Howard. The big name puckstoppers (Luongo, Bryzgalov, Rinne, Quick, Niemi) have been absolutely lit up to the tune of a combined 3.77/.880.

I'm not sure if this can be attributed to poor goalie play or a more wide-open style of play or just standard variance over a 1,000 shot sample. There have been some softies, but there have been also been a lot of shooters making their shots as well.

The argument can be made that the Eastern goalies as a group are slightly better, but I don't really see the gap as being all the large. During the regular season, the Eastern playoff starters combined for a .9209 save percentage while the Western starters were at .9205.

It seems inevitable that the tide will eventually turn for the Western netminders (and defensive units), but it has certainly made for an unusually high-scoring first round of the playoffs.