How To (Over)Analyze Goaltenders

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Save Percentage Ah the grand daddy of them all, my personal favorite, Save Percentage! This solves the age-old problem of comparing how a goalie fares based on the number of shots faced. The GAA for a goalie that stops 38 out of 40 is the same for a goalie that stops 18 out of 20: 2.00. But when the former goalie has a 0.950 save percentage, and the latter has a 0.900 save percentage, it’s much easier to establish how the former outperformed the latter without having to count each and every shot. In case you’re wondering, save percentage is calculated by dividing saves made by shots faced. Simple!

Saves Made / Shots Faced = Save Percentage

Now that this is established, Detroit’s goalies:

Jimmy Howard

Jonas Gustavsson

Petr Mrazek




29 games played

21 games played

7 games played

Similarly to GAA, Howard and Gustavsson are pretty close together, and neither one is particularly spectacular. Petr Mrazek looks better at first glance, but again, when he doesn’t have to play the full game, as was the case on Janurary 9th and 20th against the Sharks and Blues respectively, he’s bound to have a chance to pad that stat a little. Compared to the rest of the league, these two aren’t doing so great. When counting goalies that have played at least 20 games, Howard is 17th in the NHL right now. Save Percentage still doesn’t give you much context for a goalie’s performance, but it’s much better than GAA. Out of all the stats the NHL keeps track of regularly, this is easily the best indicator of a goalie’s performance. It’s far from perfect, but it’s the best that’s easily and readily available. Howard has never been spectacular in either category, but Detroit has never really needed him to be. This year the offense just isn’t there, so he’s being asked to do a lot more carrying of the team than he’s used to, the verdict is still out on whether or not he rises to the challenge. I’ve always felt that goalies fall into two categories. You have your legends, Henrik Lundqvist or Pekka Rinne for example, that will stand on their head and win a game almost in spite of their team’s attempt not to. Those are the outstanding goalies. Then you have your ‘good enough’ goalie. The goalie that won’t win the game for you, but he gives you a chance to stay in it and win the game. Jaroslav Halak and Corey Crawford come to mind. Howard, to me, has always been a ‘good enough’ goalie that bordered on the transition to outstanding without every quite stepping over all the way. Hopefully we all learned something with this goalie’s article. Did I miss something? Did you love it? Hate it? Think it was ok? Let us know in the comments below!

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