Albert Einstein once defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” Hockey goalies often are stereotyped as being, um, neurotic but Hockey or Die’s Jonathan Willis put together an interesting list of this season’s five most consistent goalies in the NHL and Detroit’s Jimmy Howard came out on top.
Of course, before we go further, it’s probably relevant to discuss exactly what is meant by “consistency.” Willis points to a great Battle of Alberta post that focuses on the fact that a lot of times when a sports writer states that “(blank player/team) needs to become more consistent” the writer really wants to say that they needs to be better.
When it comes down to it, being consistent and being great – while not mutually exclusive – can often be wildly different expectations. A great goalie might have some serious peaks and valleys, then again, an average goalie can be quite valuable if his performance is steady.
The funny thing about this list (being that it’s about consistency) is that it seems like a collage of the year’s most surprising goalies. Craig Anderson hasn’t just been outstanding this season, he’s been reliably outstanding. After bouncing back and forth from Detroit’s farm system, Howard has been a rock for the Red Wings. Tuukka Rask is producing similar results in Boston.
The two most interesting names are the last ones on the list: Carey Price and Jonathan Quick. Unlike the top three, Price and Quick do not have elite-level save percentages, yet they’re both in considerably different situations. Price came into the league with Chosen One type pressure and to the naked eye seems like a disappointment. On the other hand, Quick isn’t even the most renowned goalie named Jonathan in the Kings system
, yet he’s sporting a Brodeurian workload.
Price is in a “1A, 1B” situation (at best) in Montreal because of the often great goaltending of Jaroslav Halak, but his numbers have been comparable to Quick’s this season. The difference is that Quick is the most stable, mature goalie the Kings have now (though that could change later with the maturation of their other prospects). Is Quick a demonstrably great goalie? No, but there could be legitimate value in knowing what you’re going to get from a goalie.
Now, if Willis can find a team that has the best cross-section between goalie consistency and shots allowed, then he’ll really be on to something.