Vulgar Statistics: Jhonas Enroth, Starter
Good evening ladies and gentlemen, or good whatever time it is that you may be reading this. I have to pass on my scheduled idea as it’s taking a bit more in the way of putting together than I anticipated (and I have not started it yet). So tonight I bring you a bit of a Vulgar Statistics Light.
I want to take a look at Jhonas Enroth, specifically his performance when he’s been the starting goaltender for the Buffalo Sabres. With Ryan Miller’s unlucky recent history that’s been three times, the current run he is on, and stints in both November and April of last season. I opted to combine the latter two so we’d only have two things to compare.
There is some cause for encouragement and some cause for discouragement. The discouraging news is that Enroth has shown little improvement from this season to last…and his stats aren’t exactly stellar. Last year he posted an .896 save percentage (again this is only in games where he was the team’s unquestioned starting goaltender, not games in which he was giving Miller rest), and a 2.97 goals against average. This year he’s gone for .898 and 3.12 respectively.
But that doesn’t quite tell the whole story (in addition to being a pathetically small sample size). If you take away games in which Enroth went in cold (this year’s Boston game and last year’s Columbus game) Enroth moves up to a .902 and 2.78 last year and a .906 and a 2.82 this year, which is pretty average for a second string goaltender.
Now if you want to continue in that vein and abandon some of your logic and remove the games in which Enroth was hung out to dry by the team (and subsequently pulled), then things look fantastic. I removed this year’s New Jersey and Columbus games, and last year’s Philadelphia game to give Enroth a sparkling .942 save percentage and 1.75 goals against average this year and a .917 save percentage and 2.34 goals against average last year. Outstanding.
Obviously the truth lies somewhere in between the numbers I’ve been throwing out like candy at Halloween. Goaltending is an interesting position in that so much of the actual performance of a goaltender is dependent on the team in front of them, which is why I didn’t completely hate myself for plucking out games where I didn’t think it was Enroth’s fault that the puck often found the back of the net. I think Enroth certainly brings something different than Ryan Miller, and with it different positives and negatives. And truthfully those things don’t really matter anyways. The team in front of them still has to play. To me Enroth looks like a quick goaltender who has adapted very well to his lack of size and (despite his small stature) is above average high and at handling the puck. He does let in a soft goal on occasion, but no more than any other NHL goaltender does. That’s good enough for me.