Why Is No One Talking About Jose Theodore?

Heading into tonight's action, Jose Theodore is 34th in the League in save percentage and 26th in goals against average. In a 30-team league, those aren't good numbers, and they're the kind that lead people to write things like "The only serious question mark [for the Caps] is in goal, where back-up Brent Johnson has outplayed No. 1 goaltender Jose Theodore so far."

But a closer look at Theodore's season reveals that, indeed, he hasn't been good - he's been great... for six weeks, at least. Here's a look at all 26 NHL goalies who have appeared in at least ten games since Christmas, ranked by goals against average over that span:


Team GP W L GAA GA SV SV%
Jose Theodore WSH 14 10 3 2.06 29 359 .925
Jonas Hiller ANA 12 7 4 2.13 24 267 .918
Ty Conklin DET 10 5 3 2.16 21 247 .922
Nikolai Khabibulin CHI 10 5 3 2.17 20 264 .930
Steve Mason CBJ 17 10 5 2.20 36 399 .917
Tim Thomas BOS 12 8 2 2.22 27 358 .930
Niklas Backstrom MIN 13 8 5 2.24 27 347 .928
Evgeni Nabokov SJS 13 8 3 2.25 28 317 .919
Pekka Rinne NSH 14 6 6 2.27 29 335 .920
Marty Turco DAL 16 10 4 2.31 37 376 .910
Jonathan Quick LAK 13 7 5 2.31 29 336 .921
Ryan Miller BUF 14 10 4 2.39 34 441 .928
Henrik Lundqvist NYR 12 6 5 2.41 29 321 .917
Scott Clemmensen NJD 17 11 6 2.46 41 433 .914
Cam Ward CAR 17 9 8 2.58 42 411 .907
Miikka Kiprusoff CGY 15 11 4 2.66 39 407 .913
Marc-Andre Fleury PIT 16 6 8 2.67 40 439 .916
Tomas Vokoun FLA 14 6 4 2.69 33 353 .915
Carey Price MTL 10 5 4 2.79 27 239 .898
Ilya Bryzgalov PHX 15 6 8 2.80 41 411 .909
Kari Lehtonen ATL 16 6 9 2.82 42 440 .913
Manny Legace STL 10 4 2 2.84 22 160 .879
Dwayne Roloson EDM 16 9 7 2.85 41 391 .905
Mike Smith TBL 15 8 6 3.00 45 397 .898
Peter Budaj COL 10 4 5 3.38 32 285 .899
Vesa Toskala TOR 14 4 7 3.41 47 361 .885

More wins than Tim Thomas or Evgeni Nabokov, a better save percentage than Henrik Lundqvist or Steve Mason, and a better goals against average than, well, everyone. What's more, in those 14 appearances (all starts), Theodore has allowed only a dozen even strength goals.

Soon after the Caps signed Theodore last summer, I wrote a couple of posts (Step Back From The Ledge and In Defense Of Jose, The Defense In Front Of Jose) in which I basically made the points that Theodore was capable of not only being "good enough" but also of putting up numbers not wholly dissimilar to those Cristobal Huet put up in his abbreviated stint between the pipes in D.C. Comparing Huet the (regular season) Cap with Theodore's last six weeks, that point rings true:


GP MIN W L T GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
 Cristobal Huet (2008) 13 771 11 2 0 21 1.63 329 308 .936 2


GP MIN W L T GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
Jose Theodore (Last 6 wks)
14 846 10 3 1 29 2.06 388 359 .925 1

To be sure, Theodore's track record is one of inconsistency, but also one of slow starts and strong finishes, and his pre-Christmas (9-6-1/3.32/.881) / post-Christmas (10-3-1/2.06/.925) splits speak to both of those points (as do his career pre- and post-All-Star splits). But six weeks is a decent-sized sample from which to draw some conclusions, and it's possible to chalk up some of his early season woes to familiarizing himself with new on- and off-ice surroundings, as well as the stellar play of his backup.

It's hard, then, to deny that Jose Theodore is one of the best goalies in hockey at the moment... and maybe no one's talking about him because their mouths are filled with crow.

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