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Damned Goalie Stats

This has been grinding my gears for quite a long time now: when people base their opinion on a goalie's season based especially on stats like goals against average and save percentage. You know, the stats that have been around since before any of us were born. I was young and naive to judge goalies based on those numbers back in my younger days yet there is a damned hoard of adults (kids get a semi-pass) out there that still spew these stats out and pass judgement on a goaltenders' season.


It's fucking lazy to do it. It's also a farce because goaltender performance cannot be quantified by the dinosaur stats or even the new ones. The new ones do provide more information above the old school GAA and SV% which is fine for anyone that loves math or wants to see a bigger picture and gather as much knowledge as they can. Fire away. But all I'm seeing at puckanalytics: fancy versions of GAA and SV%. How was the goalie when the game was close? Trailing? Up by 2? Down by 2? It doesn't fucking matter!


A. As with most advanced stats: they are based on 5 on 5 play only. Well, horseshit I say! There are large chunks of the game played on special teams (power play and penalty kill that are not even taken into consideration)

B. More-so than any other position in sports, you cannot judge a goaltender solely with these stats. None of them, actually. Goaltending has to be the toughest position in sports. There's a reason why that is common knowledge. It's because it's one of (if not the) most highly scrutinized job in sports, plus these guy nowadays not only stand in front of a chunk of hard rubber traveling 100 mph, they are also getting bowled over by forwards crashing the net.

C. Far more often than not, goalie stats are team stats. It's a no-brainer. Goalies that play behind teams that play tight defensively as a group enjoy better stats. See: Martin Brodeur's career as a New Jersey Devil. Hey, Marty was a pretty good goalie. I saw him steal games. But on so many occasions he benefited from the continual Devils' motto of trapping defence. If you want a somewhat comparative example as a Canucks fan, look no further than the Canucks-Bruins Final of 2011 (sorry). It's called the one and done. Canucks got a shot on goal and the Bruins cleared the rebound away because they boxed the Canucks out with their size and didn't let them get close to Tim Thomas for any or many garbage goals. Who won the Conn Smythe that year? And what goalie that wins the Conn Smythe or even the Vezina doesn't credit their teammates? Well, an arrogant one I suppose, but it rarely happens (maybe Patrick Roy, but he really was amazing and not many goalies that great grace us with their presence). It's because goalies know what's up. They can steal games on occasion and their mates can make many of their nights a lot easier. On the complicated flipped side, Luongo liked a lot of shots to get himself into the game. But how many Luongos are there? Michal Neiveurth

I saw Ryan Miller steal a lot of games for the Canucks last season under an aggressive Willie Desjardins offensive style which, of course, creates a lot of odd-man rushes against. And by God there were a lot of odd-man rushes against. How in the hell are Miller's stats not gonna be middle of the pack under a system like this?

Here is a prime random example:

I can give you several more examples....

And perhaps maybe something else you saw in that clip:

D. The deflected-in and screening effect. If you can't see it you are likely not to stop it. If it deflects off a skate or his ass you cannot anticipate it every time or react to it. The new NHL is chalked full of goals against like this. It's the new-ish cool and it happens a lot nowadays. This again deflects a lot of blame from goaltenders. If the opposing team parks a player in front of your net and your goaltender cannot see jack shit, somebody has to remove that wanker. I suppose in Vancouver that guy is Alex Edler and.....I do not know who else. God dammit Benning why are you making the Canucks' D smaller? Watch for this to be an issue this season as the Canucks clearly lack size on defence.


Ryan Miller's middle-of-the-pack stats last season and the season before (especially with the Blues) are nothing to angrily post on Twitter about. Take a deep breath, smell what Willie D is cooking and realize that there are not many goaltenders on this earth that can pound a .950 save percentage under Willie's style. There are none, actually (except maybe Carey Price) least not on a consistent basis.  If you expect a goaltender to do so, you are completely foolish. If the Canucks want to play that kind of balls-out offense then they had better outscore their opposition by a fair margin because we SHOULD know that the Canucks surrender a lot of odd man rushes against. You know, if you have actually been watching Canucks games.

Advanced goalie stats have a long long ways to go to paint a really good picture about goaltender performance. They have a start but are a long, hard-working ways away from really providing a true analytic of a goaltender's performance. They will get there. It takes a lot of time. Just....don't lazily analyze Ryan Miller's performance as "middle of the pack" based on those lame and current goalie stats. Damn, I saw Canucks goaltenders steal a lot of games for this team last season. If you can't see that that then you aren't  really watching closely.