Even-Strength Goaltender Shot Quality since the Lockout


Shot Quality is an idea that's been around for quite a while - Alan Ryder's original study is available here (PDF). I found a little bit more data than Alan had originally, so I''ve written about it more over the last couple of years: you can look at the 2007-08 study and 2008-09 study or check out this handy sortable chart for both seasons.

I went through and filled in the goalies for 2005-06 and 2006-07, so we can take a look at how this metric works over a number of years for which we have semi-reliable data. This time, I corrected for arena biases like the ones I described at Madison Square Garden - only Henrik Lundqvist is substantially affected, but it's in there.

So which goaltenders performed the best relative to expectations?

Every goaltender who faced 1000 shots since the lockout is listed in this table. Act refers to a goaltender's actual save percentage, and Exp is his expected save percentage based on the model. The delta is the difference between the two - positive numbers are better.

Goalie Δ Act Exp Goalie Δ Act Exp
J. Hiller 17.0 952 935 J. LaBarbera 0.7 939 938
Y. Danis 14.9 951 936 P. Budaj 0.2 941 941
P. Rinne 12.9 949 936 N. Khabibulin -0.1 934 934
T. Vokoun 12.0 950 938 M. Turco -0.5 941 942
D. Hasek 11.9 952 940 A. Auld -0.9 940 941
E. Ersberg 10.6 951 940 D. Roloson -1.8 940 942
C. Huet 9.6 948 938 T. Conklin -2.2 940 942
J. Halak 9.6 945 935 S. Clemmensen -2.5 939 941
H. Lundqvist 9.0 948 939 K. Weekes -2.5 937 939
S. Mason 8.6 947 938 F. Norrena -3.0 939 942
M. Fleury 8.4 948 939 A. Raycroft -3.1 936 939
C. Anderson 8.4 945 936 B. Johnson -3.1 937 940
J. Giguere 8.3 947 939 E. Nabokov -3.4 941 944
W. Dubielewicz 7.9 944 936 M. Biron -3.5 938 941
T. Thomas 7.7 947 940 C. Osgood -3.6 934 938
K. Lehtonen 7.3 945 938 A. Niittymaki -4.0 937 941
C. Price 7.3 946 939 J. Harding -4.0 936 940
R. Luongo 7.2 949 942 O. Kolzig -4.3 937 942
D. Ellis 5.9 943 937 J. MacDonald -4.7 934 939
R. DiPietro 5.9 945 939 J. Theodore -4.8 933 938
N. Backstrom 5.7 950 944 S. Burke -4.9 934 939
M. Kiprusoff 5.2 947 941 D. Aebischer -5.4 934 940
M. Garon 4.8 943 938 D. Sabourin -6.0 931 937
R. Emery 4.8 944 940 K. Ramo -6.1 933 939
C. Ward 4.5 941 937 C. Joseph -6.7 933 940
M. Gerber 4.1 941 937 J. Hedberg -7.0 930 937
R. Miller 4.0 945 941 P. Leclaire -7.5 936 943
J. Quick 3.9 943 939 J. Holmqvist -7.6 932 940
M. Brodeur 3.5 946 942 P. Lalime -9.2 928 937
M. Smith 3.5 944 940 H. Toivonen -10.6 926 936
I. Bryzgalov 3.5 945 941 B. Boucher -10.8 926 937
M. Tellqvist 3.1 943 940 J. Grahame -13.5 926 939
M. Legace 3.0 943 940 J. Aubin -14.6 922 937
M. Fernandez 2.1 944 941 M. Denis -16.6 925 942
C. Sanford 1.6 942 941 J. Markkanen -17.0 925 942
V. Toskala 1.4 941 940 R. Esche -17.1 926 943
E. Belfour 1.4 939 938 J. Thibault -18.8 922 940
C. Mason 0.9 940 939 D. Cloutier -19.0 921 940

It's amazing to see just how well Jonas Hiller has performed so far in his NHL career - this is not to say that he's performed at his actual level of ability; this is merely what we've observed. It's impressive to see a late-career Dominik Hasek at the top of the list, and Tomas Vokoun again shows up as the most unknown star goalie in the NHL (though his $5.3 million salary says someone appreciates him.)

What's most significant about using this many years worth of data is the relative insignificance of shot quality in overall performance. The variance in expected save percentage is so low that 90% of a goalie's observed performance is due to other factors - primarily skill. If you've seen a goalie play for three or four seasons, you can be pretty confident that his actual save percentage is a good measure of his true performance. This is not to say that some goalies, like Nicklas Backstrom or Evgeni Nabokov, haven't benefited from a coach whose defensive system limits quality chances (or Nikolai Khabibulin, who faced more tough shots than expected), but for the vast majority of starting goalies, shot quality has not been a factor in their career performance at even-strength.

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