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Vulgar Statistics: Big Money Goaltenders And Their Performance Relative to Rest

04/04/11

The goaltender – rest data that I’ve compiled for Miller over the past few weeks has piqued a lot of readers’ interest so I’ve decided to expand it even further to encompass all the big time ($5.0 million and up) netminders.  (Again over the last three seasons.)

Let’s look at some charts!
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Note: Minutes calc for GAA Rounded

Wow, that is a lot of data to look at. Presumably you all have eyes so I’ll mostly let you browse yourselves and I’ll just go through the things that caught my eye. Unfortunately a few of the rest periods have relatively small sample sizes so they may be a bit skewed, like Miller’s decent record, but terrible save percentage with three days rest.

What have we learned aside from that the Florida Panthers are terrible, and so is J. S. Giguere? The first thing that I noticed is that several of the goalies had decent stats but poor winning percentages in back to back games which suggest that it’s not the goaltender you need to worry about in terms of being fresh…it’s the rest of the team. It was also interesting to see how the stats actually tended to match the style of each netminder. Take Martin Brodeur, probably not the most physically talented netminder (compared to some others), but capable of being very, very good over a very long period of time. Likewise he’s showed remarkable consistency across the board in terms of rest, but nothing overly spectacular. Then there’s Tim Thomas who sometimes comes under fire for “not playing enough games” which in goaltender-speak means below sixty-five or so. So unsurprisingly his best stats come when he’s playing fairly often…but not too often. And finally there’s Henrik “we’re going to ride you to your death because we have no other choice” Lundqvist. The more he plays, the better he is.

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I include winning percentage and goals against average here with a grain of salt. They’re nice to look at, but they’re really more team stats than goaltender stats…save percentage is where it’s at. Tim Thomas has ridiculous numbers all around so he skews things a little bit, but it’s interesting to note that Thomas plays best when he’s got a backup that can get 25-30 games…and that’s exactly how the Bruins tend to use him. The same goes for every day Lundqvist and even for Ryan Miller.  (Hey…coaches are smart.) Since Miller plays best with either very little, or a good amount of rest, having a netminder behind him that can give him the odd long break every once in a while is very beneficial. So it wasn’t so much that Lindy Ruff was doing Miller a disservice by playing Lalime so infrequently, he was doing Miller a disservice by allowing him to rack up large numbers of consecutive starts, which we saw two weeks ago isn’t good.  (And Lalime was doing the team disservice by not winning…but I still love him.)

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Can I just say that I’d like to see Tomas Vokoun on a good team for at least one year so I can figure out if he’s a good goaltender or just a poorly made sloppy joe next to the poop sandwich that is the Florida Panthers? Okay. This is a bad chart really since pretty much all of it either skewed by small sample sizes, skewed by the craptastic Panthers, or skewed by J. S. Giguere. The one bit of information that we do get out of it is that Martin Brodeur is old. It makes sense that he would be among the poorer performers in back-to-back games since his body doesn’t recover as quickly as his younger colleagues and that’s what the statistics show. Good job me.

Final Thoughts:
Sadly for you guys, this is the end of the line for this stat since I have no desire to delve into the likes of Al Montoya and Tyler Plante. Most of the rest of the league really doesn’t play often enough to warrant looking at anyways, and those that do will probably find themselves in the upper echelon pay-wise if and when I choose to revisit this data in the future.

That having been said, it was definitely interesting to look through the data and to confirm or deny preconceived notions. I definitely have a lot higher opinion of Henrik Lundqvist than I did before.  (Though I still think he chokes on the big stage.) And I will repeat what I said in the Miller columns. It is GREAT that Miller is at his best with one day of rest because that’s the norm come playoff time.

(Special thanks to @ssmorol for his help in putting together the data for this column, and for being a second set of eyes and a nice check for its accuracy.)

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