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Small Sample Sizes and the Winnipeg Jets Save Percentage

It's too early to worry.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The thing about small samples is that a slight variation or deviation in results can have a major impact on the numbers in. Some people will look to these numbers as meaningful, but the fact is that they aren't all that telling. This is especially relevant in the case of the Winnipeg Jets early season goaltending.

The Jets have played six games. These games have been split between two goalies at three games a piece. This is a teeny tiny sample size - even smaller when you start looking at the individual goalie's respective stats. This isn't to say either goalie has been good, but it is far to early to write off either player or assume that either sample is meaningful.

Reality: Current Goalie Stats

Player SA GA SV SV%
Connor Hellebuyck 83 10 73 0.880
Michael Hutchinson 97 11 86 0.887

Analysis: These numbers are not good, obviously.

What if: They Each Made One More Save

Player SA GA SV SV%
Connor Hellebuyck 83 9 74 0.892
Michael Hutchinson 97 10 87 0.897

Analysis: Still not good.

What if: They Each Made Two More Saves

Player SA GA SV SV%
Connor Hellebuyck 83 8 75 0.904
Michael Hutchinson 97 9 88 0.907

Analysis: These numbers are right around league average for the start of this season. League average entering last night's game was .906. Still these numbers are not great.

What if: They Each Made Three More Saves

Player SA GA SV SV%
Connor Hellebuyck 83 7 76 0.916
Michael Hutchinson 97 8 89 0.918

Analysis: This is the "one save per game" that everyone always talks about. Wouldn't' that be nice? Well, yeah. These numbers would be elite. Both of the Jets goalies are just three saves away from elite!

Yes, this is where you want your goalies, but even the best have three game stretches similar to or worse than what Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson have posted to start the season. Even "King" Henrik Lundqvist started his year with three straight sub .900 games (.901 after six).

The bright side is that these things can turn around relatively quickly too. That's the magic of small sample sizes.

What if: The Next Game is a 30 Save Shutout

Player SA GA SV SV%
Connor Hellebuyck 113 10 103 0.912
Michael Hutchinson 127 11 116 0.913

Analysis: What a difference a game can make.


Individually, the three game swings are hardly noteworthy. There is no doubt added fan frustration due to the fact that both goalies have started slow, but the idea that their play is tied together is flawed.

Perhaps the Jets have allowed an inordinate amount of high quality scoring chances - if so, that will probably change. Perhaps this is just an off stretch for each of the tenders - if so, that will probably change. Or maybe they both suck - but even then, these numbers are unlikely to be sustained.

This isn't a case where we've got eight years of data telling us that these goalies are bad - they've played three games a piece to start the year.