It's no secret that through 28 games, the Caps haven't gotten their money's worth out of the guy they expected to be their number one goalie. Heading into last night's games, Jose Theodore was 38th in the League in goals against average and 41st in save percentage among goalies with enough appearances to qualify. His teammate Brent Johnson was 23rd and 20th, respectively, in those categories.
Here are their aggregate numbers on the season:
|2008 - Jose Theodore||17||975||8||6||1||1||50||3.08||448||398||.888||1|
|2008 - Brent Johnson||13||718||7||4||2||2||31||2.59||357||326||.913||0|
The numbers favor Johnson heavily on the surface, but let's go a little deeper.
One of the reasons many believed at the outset of the season that Theodore had a good chance to succeed in D.C. is that the team in front of him would score a ton of goals, thereby providing a bit more room for error than he might have had in the past. Sure enough, the Caps are one of the highest scoring teams in the League, and Jose has been a recipient of that outpouring of offense, receiving 3.31 goals of support per start; Johnson has gotten just 2.92 goals per game of offense in his starts. It may have been the offense on Sunday, but it hasn't been on other nights.
Quality of Opponents
It's still early enough in the season where one or two games against top (or bottom) teams can impact one's stats significantly. The teams against whom Theodore has started have a combined 183-141-43 record (a .499 points percentage), while the teams against whom Johnson has started have a combined 139-115-39 record (a .474 points percentage). Not counting the games against the Caps, Jose's opponents are scoring 2.85 goals per game while Johnson's are averaging 2.78. So Johnny has faced easier competition, but not by much.
Home vs. Road
The Caps have a 5-9-2 record away from the VC so far this season, and on many of those nights, the team's energy level was lacking. On other nights, extended travel and/or injuries caught up with them. Whatever the reason, they've been a different team on the road, and that's where Theodore has 62.5% of his starts; Johnson, on the other hand, has split his 12 starts right down the middle between home and road. Of course, there is a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg aspect to that road record and the goalies of record in them as well.
The Caps have had five sets of back-to-back games so far (check out Peerless on this point), and Theodore has started two of these typically more difficult games. The team has also had three games in four nights five times, with Theodore starting two of those.
Stealing and Blowing Games
Theodore is 6-0-1 when the Caps score four or more goals, 0-4-0 when they score two or fewer. In my book, he's blown one game (you shouldn't be losing on nights when you get four goals, much less the five he actually go), and has stolen one (I'll call winning a game with two or fewer non-empty net goals of support a stolen win, and one of his wins that doesn't appear here - a 3-1 win over Jersey - fits that criteria). Johnson is 4-1-0 when the Caps score four or more and 1-3-1 when they score two or fewer - one blown game (though one was Opening Night and really was a shared blow, um, job) and two steals (Toronto on Saturday and a 3-1 win with an empty netter against the Rangers).
So what does all of this tell us about the goaltending situation in our nation's capital? That Jose Theodore has drawn some tougher assignments than Brent Johnson (both in terms of opponents and location), but has gotten more goal support than his teammate. Johnson has been much more dependable (Theodore's longest stretch of consecutive starts without yielding four goals is four, and he hasn't had three consecutive sub-four starts since October; Johnson's is, well, every game this season except one), and for all of the talk about Theodore's inconsistency, it sure would be nice for a few more of the "really good" starts to be sprinkled in with the "really bad" ones.
All of that isn't to say Theodore won't be consistently good at some point. It's just to say that he hasn't been.
Elsewhere 'Round The Rinks
It doesn't sound like Alex Semin is any closer to returning, does it?... Weekly power rankings are up at SportingNews.com (where the Caps are down four spots to 12th), The Hockey News (where they're down four to 13th) and CBSSports.com (where they're down three to ninth).... Cap of the Day: Jaroslav Svejkovsky.... A few weeks ago, we posted about our favorite pucks. If I had this sitting on my desk, it'd be number one.... The Atlantic has an interesting piece on Jaromir Jagr. I don't want to spoil it for you, but Andrew Sullivan doesn't believe Jagr is in Russia, since there are no hospital records evidencing that so-called "fact."... A fellow J.P. weighs in on the Top Ten Hockey Books of 2008.... Finally, SB Nation has added yet another top hockey blog to the roster in Battle of California. Earl and Rudy are two of my favorite bloggers, so stop by and check 'em out if you enjoy cartoons and cursing, respectively.