Ranking out the playoff goalies

1-niemi.jpgSo you fancy a look at the playoffs in a different light and subscribe to the theory that a great goalie can carry a team to the Stanley Cup and want the numbers to back you up in an argument. Good thing you’ve turned to us because it’s high time someone did take a look at how the 16 goaltenders in the NHL Playoffs shake out statistically speaking. Brandon gave things a look over this morning so feel free to give it a look to compare notes.

If you’re looking at goals against as a measuring stick, some of the top choices may catch you a little off guard. I’m listing off those goalies that either have been or are presumed to be the starters for their teams for the playoffs.

1. Tuukka Rask (BOS) 1.97

2. Ryan Miller (BUF) 2.22

3. Martin Brodeur (NJD) 2.24

4. Antti Niemi (CHI) 2.25

5. Jimmy Howard (DET) 2.26

6. Ilya Bryzgalov (PHX) 2.29

7. Jaroslav Halak (MON) 2.40

8. Evgeni Nabokov (SJ) 2.43

9. Pekka Rinne (NAS) 2.53

10. Jonathan Quick (LA) 2.54

11. Brian Elliott (OTT) 2.57

12. Roberto Luonvo (VAN) 2.57

13. Craig Anderson (COL) 2.64

14. Marc-Andre Fleury (PIT) 2.65

15. Brian Boucher (PHI) 2.76

16. Jose Theodore (WAS) 2.81

For those of you wondering if Theodore or Semyon Varlamov is the right choice in Washington, Varlamov’s goals against average is 2.55 in 26 starts this year. Where the difference comes in between the two is in save percentage, and that difference isn’t all that great as Varlamov checks in .909 and Theodore at .911, a difference of .002 percent and barely negligible given Theodore has played 21 more games, his statistics tell a little bit more than Varlamov’s do.

As for the save percentages of the goalies and how they rank out,
things juggle a little bit standings-wise.

1. Tuukka Rask (BOS) .931

2. Ryan Miller (BUF) .929

3. Jaroslav Halak (MON) .924

4. Jimmy Howard (DET) .924

5. Evgeni Nabokov (SJ) .922

6. Ilya Bryzgalov (PHX) .920

7. Craig Anderson (COL) .917

8. Martin Brodeur (NJD) .916

9. Roberto Luongo (VAN) .913

10. Antti Niemi (CHI) .912

11. Jose Theodore (WAS) .911

12. Pekka Rinne (NAS) .911

13. Brian Elliott (OTT) .909

14. Jonathan Quick (LA) .907

15. Marc-Andre Fleury (PIT) .905

16. Brian Boucher (PHI) .899

What the save percentage tells us compared to the goals against
average is that guys like Ryan Miller and Tuukka Rask are, indeed, that
good. It also tells us that Jimmy Howard and Evgeni Nabokov are a bit
better than their goals against averages let on as they’re saving a
higher percentage of shots than some players that are above them in
goals against (read: they’re seeing more rubber thrown at them).

Obviously some of these rankings are a bit skewed due to workload.
Where Tuukka Rask looks unbeatable thanks to playing 45 games, Brian
Boucher looks like a total chump because he’s played in 33 games. Some
of these guys are horses (no, not literally Alex Rodriguez doesn’t play
hockey) and fatigue could be a factor for some of them, especially those
not used to it. Jonathan Quick in Los Angeles played in 72 games this
year and some have wondered aloud about his ability to keep his great
season going. Craig Anderson in Colorado was a career backup before this
season and played in 71 games for a team that started to show signs of
wearing down at the end of the year.

Who’s got reasons to worry out of this? The obvious answers are the
Penguins and Capitals as both Fleury and Theodore are closer to the
bottom of the playoff goalie list. Whether or not Fleury does have an
on/off switch remains to be seen, but he certainly more than proved
himself last year. The Flyers are feeling the burn having to go with
Brian Boucher because, at best, this year he was supposed to be a backup
goalie and now he’s got to carry the team in the playoffs against
Martin Brodeur’s Devils.

If you just want to judge how these series are going to go by stats
alone, you’d be a fool but it’s not a bad starting block to run with. Of
course, how goalies handle playoff jitters and seeing the same team
night in and night out are also thoughts to ponder as well. This year
should shake out interesting as there aren’t a lot of “old standbys”
getting the nod in goal in these playoffs.

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    Crosby: Penguins ‘probably deserved better’ vs. Senators in Game 6

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    If you didn’t know that the Stanley Cup Playoffs can be awfully cruel, then the last week or so of action should make it pretty clear.

    The Nashville Predators lost top center Ryan Johansen to a scary ailment few would have seen coming. The Anaheim Ducks fell in both games to the Johansen-less Predators, even after dominating significant chunks of Game 6. At least one Ducks player wondered if the better team won.

    Much like in life, “fair” and “deserve” only matter so much. Sports have a scoreboard to serve as the ultimate deciding factor.

    The Pittsburgh Penguins have similar thoughts after falling 2-1 to the Ottawa Senators tonight, extending the Eastern Conference Final to a decisive Game 7. You can nitpick questionable penalties and missed chances, but really, how negative can you be after Craig Anderson puts forth a blazing 45-save performance (with no overtime)?

    Mike Sullivan and others echoed such thoughts.

    ” … Obviously, we’re disappointed in the result, but I don’t think we can get discouraged by that,” Sullivan said. “I think we’ve got to take the positives from it, and we’ve got to build on it, and we’ve got to become a more determined team for Game 7.

    That’s not the sort of take that’s going to make the Senators angry in Game 7. The tone of the Senators’ discussions was likely very different after they lost Game 5 by a 7-0 score, yet maybe there was similar self belief.

    Anderson puzzles Penguins as Senators force Game 7

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    Who could blame fans for chanting “Andy” tonight?

    The Ottawa Senators said they would choose to fight in Game 6, and Craig Anderson truly battled in this one, refusing to allow this unlikely run to an end on Tuesday. They wouldn’t roll over, even after a 7-0 humiliation in Game 5.

    The underrated goalie continued his memorable (and emotional) 2016-17 season with a brilliant performance, making 45 saves to help Ottawa manage a gutsy 2-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    With that, hockey fans get a true treat: the Eastern Conference will go to a Game 7 on Thursday.

    The Senators opted for a “bend but don’t break” strategy for much of the contest, possibly to Guy Boucher’s preference. Even so, the Penguins managed to grind their way to a 1-0 win thanks to another hard-work goal from Evgeni Malkin.

    Mistakes would come back to haunt the Penguins, however, as Bobby Ryan broke Ottawa’s lengthy power-play drought to tie things up on a 5-on-3.

    With their season in question thanks to a 1-1 tie in the third period, Mike Hoffman sent a booming shot by Matt Murray, and that ended up being all the Senators needed to tie the series 3-3.

    Anderson was the standout, but Erik Karlsson was a hero in the way his detractors might not expect.

    You can watch Game 7 on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday. The game is also available to stream via the NBC Sports App.

    Report: Avalanche get permission to speak with Leafs assistant GM Dubas

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    Could one of the most hapless possession teams of this more analytics-leaning era nab arguably the most promising analytics-leaning executive in the NHL?

    It’s a reasonable question, as Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that the Colorado Avalanche asked for and received permission to speak to Toronto Maple Leafs assistant GM Kyle Dubas.

    Current GM Joe Sakic recently got a vote of confidence and also cleaned out some of the coaching staff around Jared Bednar, so this is certainly a time of change for the Avalanche.

    It will be interesting to see what kind of role Dubas would receive if he did join the fold in Colorado. Would he still be considered an assistant GM, only with more sway with what would likely be a smaller group of decision-makers? Could we see Sakic move up and give Dubas the full GM title (or eventually transition that role to the young upstart)? Might there be some other factor that would qualify as a more “outside the box” idea?

    One thing seems clear: the Avalanche might want to be decisive, as demand could be significant for Dubas if he’s even somewhat on the market.

    This could be interesting, especially if you’re a nerd for team-building storylines.

    Video: Senators score twice to take 2-1 lead in Game 6

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    The Ottawa Senators have defied odds during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and they’ve done so with what’s often been an ice-cold power play.

    They finally struck gold on the man advantage on Tuesday, and at a key moment. The Pittsburgh Penguins were dominating much of the game and pressing for an even bigger edge after Evgeni Malkin made it 1-0.

    Maybe the Penguins got overzealous, or maybe officials … finally started making some calls. Either way, the Senators ended up with a 5-on-3 advantage for almost a minute-and-a-half. With that opportunity, Bobby Ryan scored a huge goal for Ottawa on a shot that was both oddly and perfectly placed.

    Moments later, Kyle Turris narrowly missed a golden opportunity, so the contest remained tied 1-1.

    Despite a late push by the Penguins to finish the second, Game 6 will enter the third period with a 1-1 score.

    CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE COVERAGE FOR GAME 6

    Update: Mike Hoffman‘s booming shot gave the Senators a 2-1 lead in the third. We’ll see if Pittsburgh can tie it up.