A brief post on the unpredictable nature of goaltending

5 Comments

Based on five-on-five save percentage, here are the bottom 10 goalies in the NHL this season (minimum 400 minutes played):

Mike Smith
Ben Scrivens
Darcy Kuemper
Semyon Varlamov
Sergei Bobrovsky
Ryan Miller
Cam Ward
Braden Holtby
Ben Bishop
Karri Ramo

We only mention the above because here are the top 10 goalies in the NHL last season (minimum 1,500 minutes played):

Tuukka Rask
Semyon Varlamov
Anton Khudobin
Carey Price
Ben Bishop
Sergei Bobrovsky
Ben Scrivens
Jonathan Bernier
Braden Holtby
Henrik Lundqvist

Which is to say, five goalies — Varlamov, Bishop, Bobrovsky, Scrivens, and Holtby — made both lists.

What gives?

Well, luck is one reason goaltending numbers fluctuate on a season-by-season basis, i.e. last year’s post-and-out is this year’s post-and-in.

Another factor may be mental. A confident goalie trusts his technique like a confident team trusts its system. An uncertain goalie, on the other hand, may have a tendency to start playing too aggressive or too conservative. He becomes like a golfer trying to find his swing. Typically, the results aren’t pretty.

The lesson for NHL general managers? Don’t overestimate one season of strong play from a goalie. If you sign a guy to a big-money, long-term contract, you’re taking a considerable risk if he has a limited number of games on his résumé.

Also, don’t ignore the back-up position. You might need him more than you think.

For a more detailed analysis of the above, I recommend this.

Stats via Puckaltyics