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Thursday, 6 September 2012

How Important is Good Goaltending?

It is often said "if you show me a great goaltender I'll show you a winning team."  Often times the difference in a hockey game will be decided by how well the masked men play. There is no question that goaltending is important to the success of a team, a series can be won or lost based on the goaltending. But it's time to take a statistical look at how a goalie can truly effect a team.

Today we're going to look at 3 of the top goalies from last season (statistically speaking) and take a look at how it effected their respective teams. Then we'll take a look at a couple teams who didn't do so well and see how their goalies performed.

Top 3 Goalies

Jonathan Quick: 35 wins, 1.95 GAA (2nd), .929 Save Percentage (3rd), 10 shutouts (1st), 133 Goals Against.

Team Result- Won the Stanley Cup

When a goaltender backstops a team to a Stanley Cup Championship and wins the Conn Smythe you know they've had a good season. Jonathan Quick's stats only reiterate what everyone all ready knew, he had a fantastic season. Looking at the stats from last season you find Quick's name in the top 5 of almost every category. Without the solid goaltending the LA Kings had they wouldn't have been able to hoist the Cup. Quick came up big for the Kings who found themselves on the winning side of many one-goal games. Quick out-duelled his counterparts helping the Kings knock off the 1st, 2nd and 3rd seeded teams en route to victory.

Henrik Lundqvist 39 wins, 1.97 GAA (4th), .930 Save Percentage (2nd), 8 shutouts (3rd), 123 Goals Against.

Team Result- Conference Finals

King Henrik had another outstanding season between the pipes leading the New York Rangers to first place in the Eastern Conference. This season Lundqvist became 1 of only two goalies to have 7 straight seasons with 30+ wins, what does that mean? It means he's consistent, when the Rangers need a win they know they can count on him. The Rangers were able to climb on his back and ride a hot goaltender deep into the playoffs. Despite having his best season as a Ranger, he was still unable to catch the elusive Stanley Cup. Hopefully one day the king will get his cup.

Brian Elliott- 23 wins, 1.56 GAA (1st), .940 Save Percentage (1st), 9 shutouts (2nd), 58 goals against. * Elliott only played in 38 games*

Team Results- Conference Semi-Finals

Despite splitting the goaltending duties with Jaroslav Halak for most of the season, Elliott was able to win the starting job at the beginning of the playoffs. Elliott lead the league in Goals Against Average and set the record for the highest single season Save Percentage. As a result of his great year, Elliott earned some hardware at the NHL awards bringing home; the William M Jennings trophy for lowest goals allowed and the Roger Crozier trophy for highest save percentage. If it wasn't for the St. Louis Blues running into a hot goaltender in Quick the Blues likely would have gone deeper into the post-season.

Now it's time too look at two goalies who didn't fare as well and as a result their teams missed the postseason.

Ryan Miller- 31 wins, 2.55 GAA (23rd), .916 Save Percentage (21st), 6 shutouts (8th), 150 goals against.

Team Result- 9th place in the Eastern Conference

While I hate blaming goalies for a teams performance, Ryan Miller was a huge reason why the Buffalo Sabres missed the playoffs. The Sabres and Miller were expected to have a fantastic season and challenge for the Stanley Cup, but they stumbled out of the gate and as a result found themselves in 14th in the Eastern Conference. As much as Miller is to blame for the poor start he also deserves credit for the late season turn-around in which the Sabres narrowly missed the playoffs. Bottom line Miller has to be better in order for his team to win, he had a rough season and as a result the Sabres suffered.

Carey Price- 26 wins, 2.43 GAA (18th), .916 Save Percentage (20th), 4 shutouts (18th), 160 goals against.

Team Result-  15th in the Eastern Conference.

To be honest I'm not too sure what happened in Montreal this year. The Canadiens weren't expected to gave a outstanding season, but they also weren't expected  to have the poor season they did. Unfortunately for Price, no one on the Canadiens really stepped up to the plate, so even when he had a solid game they still lost. The good thing for fans is their goaltender did a lot of growing up this season and didn't quit on the team. Price didn't perform nearly as well as he could have and as a result his team tanked.

One difference between teams who made the playoffs and those that didn't was goaltending. Those who got steady consistent play from their goalies advanced farther. A goalie is said to have done his job if he keeps his team in the game and gives them a chance to win. The top 3 goalies all gave their teams a chance to win each night and their statistics reflect that. Want your team to make the playoff? Better hope  they have solid goaltending.


1 comment:

  1. Great piece! Goaltending is really important to the success of a team and we've seen that over and over again in the playoffs.
    If you have good goaltending thats half the battle!