The Noon Number: 55

Sorry I didn't post a noon number Friday, and that is unfortunately a trend that will continue. I was named on Friday as one of four bloggers to replace the irreplaceable Kurtenblog so, the daily numerical fix for your Vancouver Canucks will be held to probably just twice a week (I'm not sure as of yet). Happily, today is one of those lucky days where you will get to be graced by my presence, popping in and out of the comments section to answer questions as I hunker down on yet another mystery to solve.

If any of the fine Nuckleheads in our blessed community read or voted for me in the Province competition, allow me to take the time to properly thank you for the support through the replace the KB competition. It was the strangest job interview I ever went through and I couldn't have done it without the support I got from the fine folks of Canucks Nation, some of whom may be Nucks Misconduct regulars.

Anyhoo, want to talk hockey statistics? Want to completely avoid Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider discussion because this goalie controversy is about to go completely off the tracks? Unfortunately, this is sort of the main story in Canuckdom this week, given that Schneider stopped 117 of 120 shots in a four-game winning streak.

Now, you don't need a numerical expert to tell you that making 117 out of 120 saves is a lot. That is a .975 save percentage, which is two things:

  1. Really good
  2. Unsustainably good

Now, I have no real problem with Schneider or Luongo. They are both fantastic goaltenders, though Luongo is the better one. With a 400-game cutoff, Luongo has the third highest save percentage of all time and I tend to trust things that have more sample size as opposed to less. He's had a rough start, but sure, so did Travis Lulay, and look what happened to him.

What I'd rather talk about is the merits of having two strong NHL goaltenders. Platooning, if you will, to sap every possible save out of both Luongo and Schneider. It's a good problem to have two good goalies: the last two Stanley Cup winners had "goaltending controversies" well into the season and neither Tim Thomas nor Antti Niemi started more than 55 games in either of those years.

Is Luongo getting old and is it slowing him down? I don't know. All I know is that since coming to the Canucks, Luongo has started on average 65.8 games a season because he never had a capable backup. Now he does. His last season was the best of his career (.928 save percentage) and he started fewer games than he had in any non-injury-shortened season since 2002.

Capping Roberto Luongo's start number at 55 may be beneficial for himself and the team. Every drop into the butterfly for a goalie on the wrong side of 30 takes seconds off of his knees, and, if you've seen Dwayne Roloson try and tend Tampa Bay's net this season, you may come to the conclusion that goalies need those things.

Now, logically, when you start 55 games, you, in turn, don't start 27 of them. (#math!) These are games that I would like the Vancouver Canuck backup goaltender Cory Schneider to start. This would mean Luongo would start 42 of the remaining 59 games to meet this quota. That, in turn, means that Schneider gets 17 more starts. The Canucks play six back-to-back games.

Do goalies who play fewer games play better? I'm not sure, but I think that there's evidence to suggest that it may help Luongo. There are good goalies who play not so many games and bad goalies who play lots of games. So the question I posit to the Nucks Misconduct commentariat... how many games do you have Luongo start this season, him, being one of two excellent goaltenders that the Canucks are happy to employ?

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