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Another Look at Neuvirth and Varlamov

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In our endless pursuit of presenting different metrics by which to measure the Caps' young goaltenders (recall last week's post on Quality Starts), let's take a quick look at goals against per 30 shots (GA/30). As Brodeur is a Fraud describes it:

[The stat] is pretty much just a translation of save percentage (GA/30 = (1 - Sv%) * 30), but the advantage is that it results in figures that look like goals against averages. GAAs are more familiar and intuitive for most people to understand than save percentages, and allow a better sense of the actual difference between goalie performance on a per-game basis.

The Contrarian Goaltender tweaks the formula to adjust for different situations (even strength versus power play), which yields results in which in 2009-10, Tuukka Rask led the League at 2.17 GA/30, and Jose Theodore was 20th at 2.68 (minimum 35 starts).

So how'd the Caps' kids do? Given that Semyon Varlamov had a 2.55 GAA and Michal Neuvirth sported a 2.75 mark, you might assume that Varlamov fared better in GA/30, too. You'd be wrong, though.

Recall that the "traditional" metric that matters here is save percentage, where Neuvy bested Varly by .914 to .909. Throw in the fact that Neuvirth faced more than three-and-a-half more shots per sixty minutes than Varlamov did (31.9 to 28.2) and a heavy weighting on shorthanded performance (where the two performed at opposite ends of the spectrum, with Varly among the League's worst), and Neuvirth comes out on top. By a lot.

Neuvirth had a 2.54 GA/30, a mark that would put him in the top baker's dozen goalies in the League if he'd had the requisite 35 starts. Varlamov, on the other hand, had a fat 2.89 GA/30 (which only dropped to 2.86 in the playoffs). On the plus side, Varlamov was fantastic at even strength, with a save percentage that ranked seventh among goaltenders who started as many games as he did.

As with any statistical comparison of these two, keep in mind the very small sample size. But add this to the mountain of data suggesting that the Caps would be fine entering 2010-11 with the two youngsters in net... and hope that Varlamov and the rest of the penalty kill get markedly better. Fast.