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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    WATCH LIVE: Canadiens at Sharks

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    It’s been a difficult start to the season for both the San Jose Sharks and Montreal Canadiens, however both clubs have an opportunity to change that beginning tonight.

    The Sharks host the Habs and you can catch the action on NBCSN (10:30 p.m. ET) or via the live stream.

    CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

    Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

    Rangers, Sharks need to wake up from early slumps

    Canadiens looking to spark, not ‘bury’ Alex Galchenyuk after move to fourth line

    It’s early but the Habs are struggling to find the back of the net

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    Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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    Video: Nolan Patrick’s sweet drop pass sets up Dale Weise

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    That was quite the second period for the Philadelphia Flyers against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.

    The Flyers scored four straight goals to take a commanding lead, but Nolan Patrick put the exclamation point on the frenzied frame with this sweet drop pass to set up Dale Weise for Philadelphia’s fourth goal.

    That’s the second assist and third point of the season for the 19-year-old Patrick.

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    Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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    WATCH LIVE: Lightning at Devils

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    The Tampa Bay Lightning visit the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday, in a match-up of the early season Atlantic and Metropolitan division leaders.

    It shouldn’t really surprise anyone to see the Lightning, with Steven Stamkos in their lineup, among the higher scoring teams so far. The Devils, on the other hand, have enjoyed a great start to their season and are currently third in the league with 4.20 goals-for per game. You can check out tonight’s game on NBCSN (7:30 p.m. PT) or online via the live stream.

    CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

    Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

    The Buzzer: Nikita Kucherov just keeps scoring goals

    Kucherov’s star continues to rise, Stamkos sharp as Lightning beat Penguins

    ‘Fun to watch’ Devils rookie Jesper Bratt off to hot start

    Hischier ‘played his way’ into top-six role with Devils

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    Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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    Test your might: Buckle up for fascinating night in NHL

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    With 11 games on the schedule and a doubleheader on NBCSN, Tuesday provides a veritable buffet for hockey fans.

    That volume opens up opportunities, such as getting closer to seeing where the Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers really are at, and which one of the struggling San Jose Sharks and Montreal Canadiens can get their second win of the season (note: Montreal at San Jose closes off that NBCSN doubleheader).

    It says a lot that a Penguins – Rangers game is intriguing, but not necessarily headline-grabbing.

    Oh yeah, and we also get to see how the stubborn Ottawa Senators look now that Erik Karlsson is returning to lineup. There’s really something for everyone tonight.

    For the sake of brevity, let’s limit this to four games that should be especially fascinating on Tuesday.

    Toronto Maple Leafs at Washington Capitals

    Remember that fantastic first-round series? The one that ended up being uncomfortably close for the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Caps?

    Tuesday could be another thriller, as Alex Ovechkin‘s off to a heck of a start for the up-and-down Capitals (3-2-1), who host the dumb, fun Maple Leafs (4-1-0). It says a lot that, despite only playing five games, Toronto leads the NHL with 26 goals scored. Ovechkin vs. Auston Matthews is rarely not a fun time, in general.

    This game may answer some questions, including: “How long can Mike Babcock really push Mitch Marner down the lineup?”

    Tampa Bay Lightning at New Jersey Devils

    These aren’t your older brother’s boring Devils, but this is increasingly looking like your older brother’s very good Lightning.

    Anyway, Tampa Bay (5-1-0) already beat a surprisingly hot Red Wings team on Monday, and now they look to cool off another dark horse in the Devils (4-1-0).

    Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos are doing their usual suspects act for the Lightning, while the Devils are off to the sort of start that has made them one of the most entertaining teams of this early season. It’s not just obvious guys like Taylor Hall or even 2017 top pick Nico Hischier, either, as Will Butcher already has eight assists and Jesper Bratt is currently second on NJ in scoring.

    Tampa Bay is closing off a back-to-back, which might make it tougher for them to keep up with this young team in Newark.

    This potential barnburner begins NBCSN’s doubleheader at 7:30 p.m. ET. To watch the game online, click here.

    MORE: Full preview for Lightning – Devils, Canadiens – Sharks

    Colorado Avalanche at Nashville Predators

    Nashville isn’t too impressive just yet with a 2-2-1 record, but do note that they’re 2-0-1 in their last three games. They’re also getting a chance to eye Matt Duchene, whose feelings might not be totally soothed even though the Avs are off to a 4-2-0 start.

    This one stands as an interesting test for the upstart Avalanche, but the Duchene angle might be most interesting. Is he facing his future team here? Could the two squads pull a “Moneyball” and have him change locker rooms tonight? (OK, that’s probably going too far.)

    Columbus Blue Jackets at Winnipeg Jets

    John Tortorella’s loaded, “safe equals death” group featuring the likes of Zach Werenski versus the ridiculously loaded Jets (Patrik Laine, Nikolaj Ehlers, Mark Scheifele, so much more)? Yes, please.

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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