Which Goalies Got Crapped On: Statistically Smacking the Stick on the Ice

Ben Wendorf
May 28 2012 01:40PM



Anybody who has played goaltender (anywhere, ice hockey, ball hockey, rod hockey) will tell you: it blows to play behind a crappy team. They'll also tell you it sucks to play behind a team that takes too many penalties, pretty much guaranteeing you see more puck than a goaltender for Mongolia.  

We spend a lot of time slicing and dicing goaltending statistics, trying to isolate variables and determine talent, but we don't always look at what kind of team is playing in front of them. There's a reason for that; lest I be guilty of bearing the lede, Fenwick Close had zero correlation with 5v5 save percentage this last year, and in fact has had a slight negative correlation with 5v5 save percentage over the last five seasons.  

Which is to say, just because your team sucks, doesn't mean you suck. As a goaltender. I'm sure you're a nice person normally.

So what I really want to look at is the crapped-upon goaltenders, the guys who fought valiantly (or, half the time, pathetically) in the face of Tambellinian hockey.

Basically, I constructed an index number based on a number of metrics, covering both the team on the ice and the situations it subjects its goaltenders to. The first factor is "5v5 Fenwick/60" or the team in front of the goaltender analyzed by 5v5 Fenwick ratio when the goaltender actually was on the ice.  

1 Josh Harding MIN 34 44.548 39 Ray Emery CHI 34 52.324
2 Niklas Backstrom MIN 46 45.200 40 Jonathan Quick L.A 69 52.897
3 Pekka Rinne NSH 73 45.257 41 Martin Biron NYR 21 52.933
4 Jhonas Enroth BUF 26 45.652 42 Corey Crawford CHI 57 52.949
5 Miikka Kiprusoff CGY 70 46.328 43 Jaroslav Halak STL 46 53.297
6 Devan Dubnyk EDM 47 46.834 44 Marc-Andre Fleury PIT 67 53.906
7 Curtis Sanford CBJ 36 46.944 45 Chris Mason WPG 20 54.008
8 Tomas Vokoun WSH 48 46.972 46 Brian Elliott STL 38 54.222
9 Cam Ward CAR 68 47.311 47 Tuukka Rask BOS 23 54.500
10 Sergei Bobrovsky PHI 29 47.319 48 Jimmy Howard DET 57 54.509

I put the cutoff at 20 games played. Some of these names shouldn't be surprising, as the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues were among the worst and best Fenwick Close teams this year, respectively. Pekka Rinne's case being the selection to join Jonathan Quick and Henrik Lundqvist in the Vezina Trophy voting is certainly strengthened here.  

Another factor I included was the on-ice shooting percentage for that goaltender's team (in other words, not the shooting the goaltender faced, but what his team's offence provided on the other end).  

1 Josh Harding MIN 34 5.680 39 Jaroslav Halak STL 46 9.835
2 Niklas Backstrom MIN 46 6.223 40 Ray Emery CHI 34 9.960
3 Curtis Sanford CBJ 36 6.838 41 Mathieu Garon T.B 48 10.584
4 Jean-Sebastien Giguere COL 32 6.996 42 Martin Biron NYR 21 10.655
5 Jose Theodore FLA 53 7.091 43 Corey Crawford CHI 57 10.895
6 Evgeni Nabokov NYI 42 7.208 44 Tim Thomas BOS 59 11.232
7 Steve Mason CBJ 46 7.375 45 Chris Mason WPG 20 11.284
8 Cam Ward CAR 68 7.433 46 Sergei Bobrovsky PHI 29 11.993
9 Nikolai Khabibulin EDM 40 7.519 47 Marc-Andre Fleury PIT 67 12.351
10 Tomas Vokoun WSH 48 7.590 48 Jimmy Howard DET 57 12.358

Kind of a sweet deal you had there, Jimmy. Also notice Sergei Bobrovsky with the jump from one side to the other.  For the next metric, I had to do a little building, taking time on-ice at 5v5, 5v4, and 4v5, then determining what percentage of the total of those times were consumed by 4v5 time.  

I gave it the thrilling name "4v5%".

Rk NAME Tm GP 4v5% Rk NAME Tm GP 4v5%
1 Cory Schneider VAN 33 10.953 39 Ray Emery CHI 34 8.132
2 Craig Anderson OTT 63 10.626 40 Cam Ward CAR 68 7.840
3 Josh Harding MIN 34 10.547 41 Pekka Rinne NSH 73 7.767
4 Nikolai Khabibulin EDM 40 10.543 42 Ryan Miller BUF 61 7.742
5 Sergei Bobrovsky PHI 29 10.514 43 Corey Crawford CHI 57 7.736
6 Kari Lehtonen DAL 59 10.471 44 Martin Biron NYR 21 7.587
7 Carey Price MTL 65 10.414 45 Evgeni Nabokov NYI 42 7.553
8 Ilya Bryzgalov PHI 59 10.171 46 Antti Niemi S.J 68 7.199
9 Jhonas Enroth BUF 26 10.058 47 Jonas Gustavsson TOR 42 7.069
10 Jonathan Quick L.A 69 9.956 48 Scott Clemmensen FLA 30 6.351

This should call to mind teams that are saddling their goaltenders with tougher minutes (of their total time on-ice) versus teams playing smarter hockey. Cory Schneider's (and Jonathan Quick's) seasons seem more impressive by this metric, for instance.

The final measure I added to the equation was "4v5 FA/60", the "FA" standing for "Fenwick Against." I could care less about shots-for at 4v5, since it's a rare event and means little for the goaltender. On the other hand, I wanted to include this to provide a little adjustment for quality penalty kills that reduce shots-against.

Rk NAME Tm GP 4v5 FA/60 Rk NAME Tm GP 4v5 FA/60
1 Dwayne Roloson T.B 40 82.6 39 Brian Elliott STL 38 58.6
2 Ray Emery CHI 34 82.5 40 Semyon Varlamov COL 53 57.2
3 Evgeni Nabokov NYI 42 77.4 41 Devan Dubnyk EDM 47 56.8
4 Scott Clemmensen FLA 30 75.3 42 Steve Mason CBJ 46 56.2
5 Mike Smith PHX 67 74.2 43 Jean-Sebastien Giguere COL 32 55.2
6 Cam Ward CAR 68 72.4 44 Marc-Andre Fleury PIT 67 53.4
7 Kari Lehtonen DAL 59 69.9 45 Carey Price MTL 65 53.2
8 James Reimer TOR 34 69.9 46 Al Montoya NYI 31 53.2
9 Pekka Rinne NSH 73 69.2 47 Martin Brodeur N.J 59 52.1
10 Ondrej Pavelec WPG 68 68.9 48 Ilya Bryzgalov PHI 59 51.6

I guess Scott Clemmensen can be thankful he was given so little 4v5 time.  

Now, I wanted to put these all together into a composite ranking system, and to be reflective of the amount of ice time a goaltender sees 5v5 versus 4v5 you really have to weigh the 5v5 metrics about 80-20 to the 4v5 metrics (okay, really it'd be more like about 84-16, but the 4v5 metrics mean a little more than that).

Arbitrarily, the 5v5 Fenwick/60 and 5v5 shooting percentage ranks were counted four times apiece towards the composite rank, and the 4v5% and 4v5 FA/60 once apiece. Intuitively, then, we'll see a lot of guys who were hurt by Fenwick, but the other factors will provide some adjustments that could be unexpected.  

The crapped-upon and whatever the opposite of crapped-upon would be (sorry for the long table; please stick around for the follow-up):

Josh Harding MIN 34 3.6
Niklas Backstrom MIN 46 5.8
Curtis Sanford CBJ 36 8.5
Jhonas Enroth BUF 26 9.3
Cam Ward CAR 68 11.4
Nikolai Khabibulin EDM 40 12.6
Tomas Vokoun WSH 48 12.9
Miikka Kiprusoff CGY 70 13.4
Devan Dubnyk EDM 47 16.0
Evgeni Nabokov NYI 42 16.0
Steve Mason CBJ 46 16.4
Pekka Rinne NSH 73 16.6
Jose Theodore FLA 53 17.9
Mike Smith PHX 67 19.0
James Reimer TOR 34 19.0
Scott Clemmensen FLA 30 19.2
Jonas Hiller ANA 73 20.0
Jean-Sebastien Giguere COL 32 21.2
Carey Price MTL 65 21.6
Ryan Miller BUF 61 21.8
Kari Lehtonen DAL 59 22.1
Henrik Lundqvist NYR 62 22.7
Jonathan Quick L.A 69 22.7
Dwayne Roloson T.B 40 22.9
Ondrej Pavelec WPG 68 23.6
Semyon Varlamov COL 53 24.2
Sergei Bobrovsky PHI 29 25.0
Mathieu Garon T.B 48 25.3
Al Montoya NYI 31 25.8
Jonas Gustavsson TOR 42 25.8
Craig Anderson OTT 63 26.9
Johan Hedberg N.J 27 27.5
Cory Schneider VAN 33 29.3
Roberto Luongo VAN 55 29.8
Brian Elliott STL 38 29.8
Antti Niemi S.J 68 31.1
Michal Neuvirth WSH 38 32.0
Martin Brodeur N.J 59 33.4
Ray Emery CHI 34 35.7
Ilya Bryzgalov PHI 59 36.0
Jaroslav Halak STL 46 37.5
Martin Biron NYR 21 38.7
Tim Thomas BOS 59 38.8
Tuukka Rask BOS 23 38.9
Corey Crawford CHI 57 40.0
Chris Mason WPG 20 41.1
Marc-Andre Fleury PIT 67 42.4
Jimmy Howard DET 57 44.8

I used the standard deviation for tiebreakers.


As you can see, it was rough to be a Minnesota Wild goaltender this year, and Tambellinian hockey continued to deliver its crappiest goaltending situations. Special attention should go to the players who played well in the tough situations: Jhonas Enroth, Tomas Vokoun, Miikka Kiprusoff, Niklas Backstrom, and Devan Dubnyk all managed 92+ save percentages despite getting crushed by this index. Henrik Lundqvist and Jonathan Quick show up at 22nd and 23rd (right in the middle), while Pekka Rinne and Mike Smith come in 12th and 14th. The St. Louis Blues provided a solid situation for Brian Elliott (35th) and Jaroslav Halak (visible above at 41st).

And really, a lot of the top teams continue to be represented on the right, and it's only a greater indicator of how the top teams provide support for their goaltenders to increase their team's success. On the flip side, hopefully this grants a little more recognition for the guys that truly had to fight through tough seasons (and a lot of crap).

If you want to know the results for any other goaltender, let me know in the comments (and remember, it's for goaltenders over 20 games played).

Benjamin Wendorf was co-manager of the SB Nation Winnipeg Jets blog Arctic Ice Hockey (formerly Behind the Net); he is currently co-editor of Hockey-Graphs.com. He has been writing about NHL analytics for six years. He can be reached via email at wendorf DOT benjamin AT gmail DOT com, and tweets from @BenjaminWendorf.
#1 Danny Gray
May 28 2012, 01:44PM
Trash it!

Great stuff, surprised that there wasn't a Leafs goalie in the Top 10, as many fans kept saying that the Leafs left either Reimer or Gustavsson out to dry. Where did they rank?

#2 sanehockey
May 28 2012, 01:56PM
Trash it!

Very good stuff here.

#3 John K
May 28 2012, 03:16PM
Trash it!

The Center for Unfortunate Typo's just called. Your claim# for 'rod hockey' is #435622411123.

#4 John Chambers
May 28 2012, 09:05PM
Trash it!

How good would Josh Harding look in a Wings uniform ... or any uniform other than one with a serene sunset over a lake.

#7 Kent Wilson
May 29 2012, 09:06AM
Trash it!

@Ben Wendorf

Wait...so you wanted it to say rod hockey?

#9 Derek Jedamski
May 29 2012, 11:10AM
Trash it!

Awesome stuff. Nice work. Further fuel to fight my friends who are Pens fans and claim than Fleury allows the team to play the style they do, rather than the team benefiting Fleury.

#10 OilLeak
June 09 2012, 01:54AM
Trash it!

Hey Tambellini, you should probably sign that Harding fellow, he might be better than your MVP.

Comments are closed for this article.