Frozen Tools Forensics: Clutch Goaltending

Grant Campbell


If you’re curious about which goaltenders raised their game in the third period and OT frame, a great report is available in Frozen Tools Report Generator. I went back a few seasons and looked at goalies who were better or worse than their usual selves from the third period on.

Here is the data from the 2018-2019 season (min 20 GP) for goalies who were significantly better. Sergei Bobrovsky had a save percentage of 91.3 over the whole season but was a stone wall late in games with a save percentage of 93.4, for a difference of 2.1 percent.

Conversely, a few prominent goalies who struggled more than usual late in games were Semyon Varlamov, Henrik Lundqvist and Devan Dubnyk who were all below 90.0 percent after the second period.

One thing I noticed when comparing those who were strong late in games and those who weren’t is the workload for each of these goalies. Of those who played over 60 games, only one improved significantly in the third period or later, while three noticeably struggled. The average number of games for the clutch goalies is 39.38, compared to the fading goalies with 47.77 being the average. I didn’t intend to make age an issue but the clutch bracket has an average age of 29.85 compared to 32.07 for the other. I’m a big proponent of having the number of starts for a team’s number one goalie decreased from what has commonly been the case in prior years of 60 games or more. This is just another example of why.

Next are the top goalies in save percentage late in games as a whole, with Jack Campbell leading the bunch with a save percentage of 94.7 over his 31 games played.  Thomas Greiss, Ben Bishop, Andrei Vasilevskiy,