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Goaltenders of the Decade: Regular Season

The first question in my mind is which goaltenders have played the most over the course of the decade? I divided the total number of minutes played by nine seasons and 82 games to come up with the average number of a team's minutes played by the top goalies:

Brodeur 50.7
Luongo 42.1
Kolzig 41.6
Nabokov 38.3
Vokoun 36.8
Theodore 36.1
Turco 35.2
Giguere 33.7
Osgood 32.8
Belfour 32.7

Brodeur is absolutely in a class by himself: he has played a full season more than the #2 guy, Roberto Luongo. The list of win leaders doesn't look a whole lot different, even though wins are slightly easier to come by post-lockout:

Brodeur 379
Nabokov 269
Turco 251
Luongo 249
Kolzig 230
Osgood 230
Kiprusoff 222
Vokoun 216
Theodore 215
Belfour 208

We all know wins are influenced by the team in front of a goaltender, so who had the lowest goals-against average among goaltenders who played a minimum of 82 games?

Cechmanek 2.08
Hasek 2.13
Roy 2.15
Brodeur 2.22
Backstrom 2.24
Turco 2.26
Lundqvist 2.31
Turek 2.34
Legace 2.37
Nabokov 2.38

Roman Cechmanek? Like I said, my memory is short, so I don't remember the 29-year-old Czech busting into the league in 2000 with Philadelphia and dominating it for three seasons. Under Ken Hitchcock, the Flyers rode a weak offense and amazing defense and goaltending to a 2nd-round playoff exit in 2002-03, which was about the extent of Cechmanek's NHL legacy - he went back to Europe during the lockout and has bounced around from league-to-league ever since.

And which goaltender put up the worst goals-against-average yet still got to play a full season of NHL hockey? Sebastien Caron, who backstopped the Penguins with a 3.45 GAA during their darkest days. Marc Denis, who had the misfortune of playing for the Blue Jackets and Tampa, had the worst numbers (3.02 GAA) among goalies with long NHL careers.

Goals-against-average still depends pretty strongly on the team you have around you. Perhaps save percentage is a better indicator of goaltender performance:

Backstrom 923
Luongo 919
Cechmanek 919
Thomas 918
Roy 918
Huet 917
Lundqvist 917
Hasek 916
Vokoun 916
Giguere 915

There are clearly some very good goaltenders on this list. But even a decade's worth of saves can't eliminate the bias of the team around you, or even biases on the part of the official scorer. Among regular goalies, the decade's worst save percentages reflect a legitimate lack of goaltending skill: Dan Cloutier and Johan Hedberg.

Last, but not least, the goaltenders who faced the most shots per 60 minutes:

Hnilicka 33.2
Lehtonen 32.7
Anderson 32.1
Caron 32.1
Thomas 32.0
Luongo 31.8
Denis 30.9
Fleury 30.9
Price 30.8
Richter 30.5

The bottom five on this list are actually the most interesting: Brodeur, Cechmanek, Hasek, Turco and Turek. It should come as no surprise that there's a very high correlation between low shot volume and low goals-against averages.