Because Al Montoya is not the goaltender Winnipeg Jets deserve, but the one it needs.

Marianne Helm

A totally different kind of goaltender controversy is brewing in Winnipeg. However, Al Montoya will not save the Winnipeg Jets... but it's time we see him more

Arctic Ice Hockey has probably been one of the more critical media venues on Ondrej Pavelec. AIH has written lots of articles on the Jets "undisputed" #1 goaltender:

* June 15, 2012 - Ondrej Pavelec was not Let Down by His Team by Tim - dispelling many of the misconceptions revolving Pavelec and the Jets.

* June 21, 2012 - How Much Does Ondrej Pavelec Deserve by Daniel - showing Pavelec's comparables, while taking shot quality into account, and the type of contract Kevin Cheveldayoff should have given.

* August 2, 2012 - Pilot's Logbook 2011-12: Ondrej Pavelec by Benjamin - grading Pavelec's "MVP" performance while looking at shot locations.

* June 19, 2013 - 2012-13 Season Review: Goaltending by Garret - comparing Pavelec to goaltenders on defensively weaker teams who performed better, also dispelling many misconceptions regarding goaltending in general.

* September 16, 2013 - With Apologies to Ondrej Pavelec, I agree with Claude Noel by Garret - showing how Pavelec didn't deserve to be in the ESPN's top 25 goaltenders, while discussing how being below average is not new or isolated to Pavelec's NHL history.

After the last two loses there has been a lot more ire directed towards the netminder from the Winnipeg masses. The Winnipeg Jets out-performed their competition for the most part --albeit with one being far more decisive than the other-- yet the Jets finished without gaining a W. I've seen many crying out for Al Montoya to take over on twitter, HFBoards and elsewhere.

You'd think with this Arctic Ice Hockey would be jumping on the Montoya hype train. I mean we did twice show how Montoya did not received the amount of starts optimal for the Jets (both here and here). Heck we even wrote up a schedule for Claude Noel, showing the maximum amount of starts acceptable for Pavelec and saying he could add in Montoya where needed.

Does Montoya deserve more starts?

Without even discussing Pavelec and optimal rest usage since that horse has been beaten enough, Montoya himself has shown that he deserves more respect from Noel.

In 2012-13 Al Montoya started in five games, in those 5 games he averaged a 0.923 save percentage, three wins and one loss (and one game out due to injury partway through). This season he's only been featured once, posting a shutout. That in itself is very respectable. Other than perfection, what more could you want? That's a 3-1-0 record and 0.934 save percentage in just under 6 full games.

I thought you said Montoya isn't the Winnipeg Jets hero?

He's not.

Those statistics in his six starts are impressive and should have earned him a longer look, but six games is a ridiculous sample size to be using in any predictive context. Over the last three seasons Al Montoya has posted a 0.9130 save percentage in 5v5 situations while Ondrej Pavelec has posted a 0.9213. Relative to goalies with 2000+ minutes in the NHL during that the same timeframe this places Pavelec 31st and Montoya 46th, out of 52 goalies.

The 5v5 numbers remove penalty kill situations which tend to muddle the numbers, with PK Sv% be more susceptible to team effects and natural variance than even strength. These 5v5 values are far more predictive of future success and better indicator of team talent.

There is the possibility that Montoya's role of a backup has negatively inflated his numbers, since goalies tend to do worse in relief assignments coming in cold. But still, not enough to be making out Montoya as the Jets' saviour.

Also, goaltending isn't the Jets only problem. Captain obvious maybe, but still...

The Winnipeg Jets are currently in 20th place in the NHL for save percentage. The Jets shot attempt differential (also known as Corsi%) is 21st in the NHL when the score is close. While the Jets skaters have been much better of late, overall the players have not performed any better than the goaltending. This is not historically true of the Jets, but has been the story thus far this year.

So then what?

There is a difference between Pavelec and Montoya. The numbers indicate that Pavelec is indeed the stronger goaltender of the two; however, the limited usage of Montoya is hurting the Winnipeg Jets. Montoya has both earned and deserves Noel's respect.

Also, Noel, if you read this, please no more using the same goaltender in back-to-backs unless someone is injured... and maybe not even then.

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