Rink Reader Kyle shot me an email the other day that I'd like to throw open to the group:
[Effusive praise omitted]Below is my response to Kyle, but I'd like to know what everyone thinks on the topic:
I have a question re: goalie stats. In many of your game previews, you refer to a goalie's winning percentage, goals against average, or save percentage against a particular team. Sometimes you even use career numbers against one club.
When you get the chance, can you explain to me the value in these numbers? With more experience as a baseball fan, I can see how this applies to a one-on-one matchup such as pitcher vs. batter. But it seems to me a goalie's performance on a given night is better predicted by his most recent outings, not his history against one team. Putting aside Huet's more accomplished set of defensemen in Montreal, don't other factors such as team penalties, winning streaks and injuries (and chance?) play more important roles in determining a goalie's success on a given night? And is it likely that a goalie would have a problems with the style of a particular opposing coach or a particular opposing forward? I guess my concept is that while maybe Zdeno Chara does well in his individual matchups with Ovechkin (save Monday night), it is that type of individual skater matchup that better accounts for how many goals are scored in a game (regardless of goaltender, who sits in his crease and tries his best to see the puck). You also have clubs like the Caps who have changed personnel and philosophies during the course of the season, or just off nights from goalies (difficult to predict a goalie's future success from one or two showings).
[More over-the-top praise omitted]
[Still more embarrassing kudos omitted]
I pretty much agree with everything you're saying - using career records against an opponent as some sort of predictory device is dubious, at best. The sample size is usually tiny, and even where it's not, the personnel changes and small differences between "good" games and "bad" ones can be misleading (and if a goalie gets absolutely shelled once - he'll never get his numbers back down).
But these numbers can sometimes creep into a team's psyche and they start thinking that the only way they can beat a guy is to be perfect - which leads to overpassing, shots wide, etc. Roberto Luongo a couple of years ago is a perfect example. Also, players and even teams develop tendencies, and if an opponent picks up on them, it can make a goalie's job that much easier. And, of course, with teams playing each intra-Divisional opponent eight times a year, these stats can take on some significance.
At the end of the day, I just love stats and all the various splits and permutations. They're fun. But they don't tell you what's going to happen in any given game. After all, games are played on ice, not on paper.
On a mostly unrelated note, if you were Bruce Boudreau, how would you handle your goalies this weekend, with afternoon games in Boston on Saturday and at home against the Pens on Sunday?
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
Make sure to take a look at the stuff I posted "after hours" yesterday - just scroll down past this post.... Here's another Mirtle poll for you guys not to vote in.... Sergei Fedorov knew he was a Cap before he was a Cap. Huh?... I've pinned the "Milestones" post under the Quick Links sidebar so it's readily accessible, and please feel free to add any suggestions you might have in the comments. Oh, and next up? More goals than Glenn Anderson or Pat LaFontaine ever scored in a single season.... Just sayin'.... Happy 45th Birthday to former Cap Mike E-A-G-L-E-S Eagles.... One year ago today we recapped another Caps loss (that included a juicy Alex Ovechkin postgame quote), went free agent defenseman shopping, clubbed Matt Barnaby and looked at a pretty picture, and two years ago today we actually got to recap a Caps win.
- Hart: Erik Ersberg (40-save shutout win)
Ross: Bryan McCabe (4 points)
Norris: Bryan McCabe (Game-winning G, 3A, +2, 3 SOG, 3 BkS)
Vezina: Erik Ersberg (40-save shutout win)
Richard: Sean Avery, Nik Antropov, Jeff Carter (2G each)
Calder: Erik Ersberg (40-save shutout win)
Aiken: Dan Ellis (L, 3 goals allowed on 11 shots against in just 6:09 of work)