Who's the better goaltender? Ryan Miller vs Roberto Luongo

I was talking to a friend of mine last night about the gold medal game, and he said he'd rather have Ryan Miller in goal than Roberto Luongo.  Why?  Miller has a 930 save percentage this season; Luongo is just 919.  Not only that, Miller has "looked better" so far in the Olympics.  I tried to convince him that 50 or so starts (let alone 4) were too small a sample size to establish a goaltender's true talent, and that we should look at a number of seasons (various people have previously found that four seasons is about right.)  He was unconvinced - so I thought we should look a little deeper. 

First, let's pick some arbitrary lengths of time to compare Luongo and Miller over - first, overall save percentage:

 

Luongo Miller
Last Two Months 923 922
2009-10 919 930
2005-10 919 915

 

So Luongo and Miller have put up the same numbers over the last two months, and Luongo has been better over the last five seasons (and four and three...)  But Miller was better during the first two and a half months of this season.  Does cutting off our performance measure at the beginning of the year give us a better estimate of their relative abilities than longer or shorter periods?  Well, let's say you're still not convinced - let's eliminate bias caused by having to kill penalties and look at their even-strength save percentage over the last five seasons:

 

ES SV% Miller Luongo
2009-10 932 934
2008-09 927 936
2007-08 915 929
2006-07 928 928
2005-06 919 926
2005-10 924 930

 

Over the course of a full season, Miller has never bested Luongo at even-strength.  Luongo was better in the playoffs too:

 

ES SV% Miller Luongo
2008-09 930
2006-07 938 941
2005-06 926
2005-10 932 936

 

Over the last five seasons, Luongo was also more likely to limit his opponent to between 0 and 2 goals:

SHUTOUT 1 or 2 G >2 GOALS
Luongo 29 159 162
Miller 19 154 159

 

I don't think there's a whole lot of evidence to suggest that Ryan Miller is better than Roberto Luongo.  If a high save percentage in two and a half months out of one season was all you needed to be the best goaltender in the world, then Scott Clemmensen would be someone's starting goaltender; if all you needed was a handful of good games, then the Ottawa Senators wouldn't have sent Mike Brodeur to the minors.

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