Real or Imagined? Eastern Conference Goalies (2016)

by Doran Libin on December 6, 2016 | (2 Comments)
  • Eastern Edge
  • Real or Imagined? Eastern Conference Goalies (2016)

A deep dive on the goalie situations of the Eastern Conference.

 

 

Bear with me as I cover for Eric this week and delve into the goalies of the Eastern conference. After covering the Western Conference for two years I had almost forgot that most of these goalies still existed.

 

In the interest of keeping this introduction short here is a short overview of which factors were considered for each goalie. For a more in depth explanation see the Wild West column on goalies from last week. Each goalie was evaluated based on team defense as well as the quality of shots faced, quantity of shots faced and any deviation away from a goalie’s track record or trends. Since teams play the vast majority of their time at even strength it is the most telling situation in which to judge an individual goalie.

 

Boston

Player

GS

Record

GAA

SV%

Status

Tuukka Rask

18

13-4-1

1.60

0.941

Hold

Anton Khudobin

4

1-3-0

2.75

0.902

Sell

Zane McIntyre

2

0-2-0

4.03

0.859

Waive

Malcolm Subban

1

1-0-1

5.81

0.813

Waive

 

If one wants to understand Rask’s rebound this season compare the Bruins defense this year and in 2013/14, the last time his save percentage had him amongst the elite goalies in the league. Last year the Bruins at even strength allowed 30 shots per 60 minutes, seven scoring chances per 60 minutes and 2.27 expected goals against per 60 minutes. This year their numbers are very similar to the numbers their defense posted in 2013/14 as they have cut their shots allowed by three per 60 minutes, their scoring chances by half a chance per 60 minutes and their expected goals by 0.3 per 60 minutes. They have also significantly cut down on the number of rebounds they allow. As a result of their vastly improved shot suppression and the rediscovery of their ability to limit high danger shots Rask is back with a vengeance.

 

Buffalo

Player

GS

Record

GAA

SV%

Status

Robin Lehner

17

5-8-3

2.38

0.922

Hard Sell

Anders Nilsson

7

4-2-2

2.30

0.934

Hard Sell

 

Robin Lehner has managed to play in 82 games over the last three years. Only once in those three years did he manage to play more than 30 games. Anders Nilsson had a very similar start last year in Edmonton and then fell apart as the season went on. Both goalies leave a lot to be desired in terms of their ability to even be a second goalie for a fantasy hockey team. The Sabres are improving as a team so it would make sense that their goalies would perform better this year than in past seasons but the Sabres have not improved enough to explain the numbers both goalies are putting up. Both goalies will come back to earth but Nilsson is in for the biggest fall as his save percentage on high danger shots is about 10% higher than his career norm suggests is maintainable. Lehner is the one to bet on, but his fragility makes it unlikely.

 

Carolina

Player

GS

Record

GAA

SV%

Status

Cam Ward

19

8-7-4

2.09

0.924

Sell

Eddie Lack

4

1-2-1

3.80

0.856

Hold

Michael Leighton

2

1-1-0

3.05

0.893

Waive

 

Carolina is a pretty good shot suppression team that has a problem containing scoring chances and high danger shots against. This is the third straight year that they have allowed 27 shots against per 60 minutes at even strength yet they also allow 8.33 scoring chances per 60 minutes. That puts them in the bottom half of the league in scoring chances allowed since the 2013/14 season. Even with the Hurricanes proclivity for giving up scoring chances Cam Ward seems to be having a resurgence of sorts in the Carolina nets. The good news is that his even strength numbers look very much in line with his numbers the past few years with minor increases in important areas like high danger save percentage. The problem though is that he is sporting a 93% save percentage on the penalty kill, which means there is no difference between his even strength and penalty kill save percentages. That will not continue as the Hurricanes allow three times as many scoring chances when short handed than when at even strength. Eddie Lack has been objectively horrible thus far but it is more likely that he rebounds than Ward maintaining his current level of play across the board.

 

Columbus

Player

GS

Record

GAA

SV%

Status

Sergei Bobrovsky

20

13-5-2

2.08

0.929

Hard Sell

Curtis McElhinney

4

1-0-2

2.03

0.930

Waive

 

Going a little backwards here, an explanation as to why one should waive a backup goalie who has currently managed to stop 93% of the shots sent his way. Other than the fact that he has not shown he is capable of sustaining this level of play, the Blue Jackets have already shown that if Bobrovsky gets injured they are very willing to bring up Anton Forsberg or Joonas Korpisalo to start over him. That significantly limits McElhinney’s short term upside in a similar way as his age limits his long-term upside.

 

Now to Bobrovsky, and his elite level save percentage. He is standing on his head as the Blue Jackets allow just under nine scoring chances per game, including 5.5 high danger shots against. That is an increase of a high danger shots against per game at the same time Bobrovsky is posting his highest save percentage in six years on high danger shots. The regression case gets stronger given that his save percentage on the penalty kill is higher than usual as well. The Blue Jackets currently have an expected goals against per 60 at even strength of 2.59 but an actual goals against per 60 of 1.81, only one team in the last four years has managed that difference that substantial, that team had Henrik Lundqvist. Sell Bobrovsky.   

 

Detroit

Player

GS

Record

GAA

SV%

Status

Petr Mrazek

14

7-5-3

2.84

0.907

Hard Buy

Jimmy Howard

11

5-5-0

1.82

0.940

Hard Sell

Jared Coreau

1

0-1-0

4.14

0.889

Waive

 

Jimmy Howard has seen his numbers spike on medium and high danger shots as well as on the penalty kill. His penalty kill save percentage is especially high at 92.5%, which is four percentage points higher than it has been the last four years even as the Wings are allowing half an expected goal more per 60 minutes on the penalty kill than they were last year. That increase has been spurred by the 25% increase in their scoring chance against rate, as such it makes no sense that Howard would suddenly be almost as good on the penalty kill as he is at even strength.

 

Mrazek, on the other hand, is suddenly struggling on high danger shots despite having fixed his problems on medium danger shots. That would be a fine trade-off if the decrease in Mrazek’s save percentage on high-danger shots was not nearly twice the increase in his save percentage on medium danger shot. This development for Mrazek also comes at a time when he is seeing fewer medium danger than he has in past years while the number of high danger shots he sees has stayed the same. With 83 games over the last two years with an above average save percentage on high danger shots bet on Mrazek to rebound.

 

Florida

Player

GS

Record

GAA

SV%

Status

Roberto Luongo

17

9-7-1

2.04

0.929

Hold

James Reimer

8

3-4-1

3.05

0.896

Hold/Buy

 

For the third straight year Florida is allowing more shots and more scoring chances against. Despite that, Luongo’s numbers have not changed as everything looks largely the same as last year for the ageless wonder. If there is one potential drawback which will keep Luongo from hanging around the 93% save percentage mark all year it is his higher than normal save percentage on the penalty kill. In the last eight years only once has he managed to finish the year with a 90%+ save percentage while on the kill. Luongo has played more than 60 games in each of the last two years; other than his age there is no big reason to worry about him missing games. Should he miss games though, Reimer should be a more than passable backup despite his current numbers. Even with Florida’s defense trending in the wrong direction it is still better than the defenses that Reimer played behind in Toronto. As such there is no reason to think that his high danger save percentage will stay around 77%. He makes a decent gamble for any team with the room to carry him.

 

Montreal

Player

GS

Record

GAA

SV%

Status

Carey Price

18

14-3-1

1.82

0.942

Hold

Al Montoya

7

3-3-1

3.13

0.902

Hold

 

According to their expected goals per 60 minutes percentage the Canadiens should actually have a negative goal differential this season. Instead they are greatly outscoring their opponents even with the 10-0 drubbing they took from Columbus. Price’s save percentages are all largely in line with his career percentages from all distances. The biggest problem for Price is that the Canadiens are giving up more shots and more dangerous shots than they have in the past including more rebounds and more shots off the rush. That will help to bring his numbers slightly closer to earth but there is no reason to worry as it is not like Price is not used to carrying more than his fair share of the weight. There is no point in selling high on Price as this is the best version of this Canadiens team he has played behind. Montoya will be lucky to play 20 games if Price stays healthy.

 

New Jersey

Player

GS

Record

GAA

SV%

Status

Cory Schneider

18

8-6-4

2.63

0.912

Hard Buy

Keith Kinkaid

6

3-1-2

2.59

0.928

Hold

 

If the season were to end today Schneider would finish with his lowest save percentage since 2008/09. There is a weird quirk to his numbers in that his medium danger save percentage is at a four-year low while he has seen the number of medium danger shots he sees increase by half. For the first time since 2008/09 his actual save percentage is below his expected save percentage. December is traditionally Schneider’s worst month with an overall save percentage 11 points lower than his second worst month. This makes him a potential great buy-low candidate if that trend continues this year. Even if Schneider does struggle through December he is not losing his job, which limits Kinkaid’s value.  

 

New York I

Player

GS

Record

GAA

SV%

Status

Jaroslav Halak

15

4-6-5

2.93

0.909

Gamble

Thomas Greiss

9

5-4-0

2.47

0.919

Hold

 

After the step forward the Islanders’ defense took last year they have become a tire fire this year. They are once again allowing 30 shots against per 60 minutes and now they are pairing that with 10.6 scoring chances against per 60 minutes at even strength, which is second worst in the league. Both goalies are actually stopping more shots than is expected given the quantity and quality of shots they face. Greiss is weathering the storm better than Halak, as his save percentages across the board are more in line with his career norms. Both goalies are probably best suited for leagues where a high volume of saves is highly valued. Otherwise it is probably best to stay away unless the Islanders make a coaching change, in which case Halak has the most to gain.

 

New York R

Player

GS

Record

GAA

SV%

Status

Henrik Lundqvist

19

12-7-1

2.47

0.914

Hard Buy

Antti Raanta

7

5-1-0

2.20

0.931

Hold

 

Henrik Lundqvist had a sub-.900 save percentage in December last season and according to his career splits December is by far his weakest month. That would not seem to bode well for him except that his current struggles can almost entirely be attributed to a serious dip, five percentage points, in his medium danger save percentage. He has not finished a season since 2007/8 with a medium danger save percentage under 90% and it is hard to believe that this would be his first. Look to strike at some point in mid-December and pickup a perpetual lock potentially on the cheap(ish). Raanta will not get a serious shot at starting as long as Lundqvist is healthy.

 

Ottawa

Player

GS

Record

GAA

SV%

Status

Craig Anderson

18

12-51

2.20

0.930

Soft Sell

Andrew Hammond

2

0-1-0

4.50

0.793

Hold

Mike Condon

5

3-1-1

1.66

0.944

Hold

 

Anderson receives a Soft Sell recommendation not because of his play, which has been entirely sustainable, but because of his personal situation. Anderson recently left the team for personal reasons. He bookended his personal leave with poor performances, including giving up five goals to Buffalo. He and his family are going through a tough time, and it is tough to think this way, but keep an eye out just in case it effects his play long term.

 

The current backup for Anderson, and his replacement during his leave, is Condon. Condon has shown the ability to be a short-term quality replacement goalie in the past but has not been able to maintain anything long term. Andrew Hammond has a couple of short quality stints under his belt but is currently toiling in the AHL. He is probably the better long term solution should Anderson’s personal situation become a hockey issue as well.

 

Philadelphia

Player

GS

Record

GAA

SV%

Status

Steve Mason

18

9-8-3

2.76

0.904

Buy

Michal Neuvirth

8

4-2-0

3.54

0.859

Hold

Anthony Stolarz

1

1-0-0

3.00

0.906

Gamble

 

The Flyers have been trending in wrong direction defensively because even as they are allowing fewer total shots they are allowing a higher percentage of dangerous shots of their total shots and more scoring chances. Their expected goals against per 60 minutes at even strength has increased by 5% since 2013/14. Their scoring chances against per 60 minutes at even strength has gone up by 27% after increasing annually every since 2013/14. With their defense trending downwards it should be no surprise that the Philly goalies are seeing their numbers suffer. Mason has bloomed since arriving in Philadelphia during the 2012/13 season. The last two years he got his high danger save percentage up over 80% for the first time in his career. If it was just his high danger save percentage that had slipped it would be more plausible that this is a reversion to his pre-Flyer form but his medium danger percentage has fallen significantly as well, which makes it seem more like a blip. As Mason has the best track record he gets the buy recommendation over Neuvirth who has less potential to turn it around. Should both goalies fail to rebound this season Stolarz is a decent gamble for the latter part of this season as he has excelled previously at every level and is likely the future starter in Philadelphia.

 

Pittsburgh

Player

GS

Record

GAA

SV%

Status

Marc-Andre Fleury

16

8-5-3

3.27

0.904

Soft Buy

Matt Murray

9

7-2-0

2.02

0.929

Hold

 

There was a lot of talk during the off season about Pittsburgh trading Fleury but that seems to have faded away as the consensus seems to be that they will hold onto Fleury for the purposes of making another Cup run. That diminishes the value of both goalies. Pittsburgh is actually having a pretty bad year defensively but Murray’s numbers have pretty much held with his small sample size from last year. With no evidence to the contrary it is hard to do anything but expect Murray to keep performing at a high level. Fleury on the other hand is struggling and has been well below league average. Fleury has some slightly worrisome numbers as his high danger save percentage has dropped eight points from last season, which was a career high and only one of three years where he was above 80% on those shots. That is especially problematic this year as he is seeing half a high danger shot and rebound more per game. He is also facing more shots off the rush but the increase is much less drastic. Fleury is also struggling on the penalty kill where he is usually very dependable. Furthermore, Fleury had some of his best years in past seasons where he faced either a similar number of total shots or scoring chances. Expect Fleury to post a 92% save percentage by the end of the season, which with this offense will make him a valuable second goalie on almost any team.

 

Tampa Bay

Player

GS

Record

GAA

SV%

Status

Ben Bishop

17

8-9-1

2.74

0.910

Buy

Andrei Vasilevskiy

10

6-2-1

2.24

0.930

Hold/Buy

 

There has been a lot written in this column regarding goalies expected to regress because of unusually high save percentages on the penalty kill up to this point, Ben Bishop is facing the opposite situation. At even strength his numbers are basically the status quo where as on the penalty kill his save percentage is five points below where usually would be. The penalty kill is an especially volatile situation for goalies so year-to-year, or in-season, variation is not a shock. Bet on Bishop to rebound as he will have a hot run on the penalty kill at some point.

 

Andrei Vasilevskiy may be even more interesting as he is posting a .930 save percentage overall but his actual save percentage and expected save percentage are pretty much dead-on. His penalty killing save percentage is a little high but he should finish the year with a save percentage comfortably over 92%. Vasilevskiy has the potential for even more value as there is still the potential that the Lightning move Bishop. With the potential of a Bishop rebound as well as the potential that Vasilevskiy becomes the starter down the line this season both goalies get at least a partial buy recommendation.

 

Toronto

Player

GS

Record

GAA

SV%

Status

Frederik Andersen

20

10-6-4

2.86

0.913

Buy

Jhonas Enroth

4

0-3-1

3.94

0.872

Sell/Waive

 

Andersen’s first month of the season was so bad that his numbers still look rather pedantic despite having a .930 save percentage in all situations since November 1st. The Leafs are the highest event team in hockey as they give up more than 32 shots per 60 minutes at even strength and are still able to basically match their opponents shot for shot. They also give up just over nine scoring chances per 60 at even strength but still manage to out chance the opposition. With the offense the Leafs are able to put up Andersen makes a great option has he will get lots of saves and still have a pretty solid win/loss record. With Jhonas Enroth having just been placed on waivers the Leafs do not have an experienced backup in whom they are confident. It is probably too late to buy low but his current numbers still make a steal possible from an owner who has yet to catch on to Andersen’s improved play.

 

Washington

Player

GS

Record

GAA

SV%

Status

Braden Holtby

18

10-6-2

2.16

0.922

Hold/Soft Buy

Philipp Grubauer

5

3-1-1

1.80

0.936

Hold

 

This tandem is straight forward as even with Washington giving up a ton of scoring chances and struggling on the penalty kill. Holtby has remained a stud at even strength but has struggled a little on the penalty kill. It is highly unlikely that Barry Trotz allows the defensive issues to last the full season, which means that Holtby has some upside. Barring an injury, or a return to the confidence killing ways of Adam Oates and Olaf Kolzig, Holtby is in no danger of losing his spot as the starter. This limits Grubauer’s value outside of a spot starter in the deepest leagues or in daily fantasy.

 

The Statistics in the column this week come from Dobberhockey.com, Hockey-reference.com and Corsica.hockey

 

  • elliotw123

    Hard sell Bob if my league just counts Wins and Shutouts? Bob is tied for first in my format with Rask. Unless your crystal ball says he’s going to miss some games, I’m pretty inclined to keep reaping the rewards of a columbus team that has found some chemistry. 5th highest in goals for, 3rd lowest in goals against.. yummy..

    • Doran Libin

      They also have the second highest shooting percentage (4th highest at even strength) and third highest save percentage (sixth highest at even strength). They have a 102 PDO at even strength and a 103 PDO in all situations. Columbus is much improved from last year but they are not this good. At even strength they have an expected goals against per 60 minutes of 2.54 but an goals against per 60 minutes of 1.8. It’s a similar story in all situations. Columbus is riding the percentages hard and that usually means they are in f or a big dose of regression.

[shareaholic app="share_buttons" id="186673"] [shareaholic app="recommendations" id=""]