The Puck Stops Here

by Russ on January 23, 2018

 

This week, the Eastern Edge will take a closer look at the goaltending in the Eastern Conference. Just looking at the numbers between East versus West and it is much more preferable to own a Western Conference goaltender if your league counts goals-against averages and save percentages.

 

All the statistics that follow are prior to games played on Sunday. The top 12 Eastern Conference goaltenders average 18.6 wins per goaltender, while the Western Conference averages 18.2. Not really a big difference, but let’s look at goals-against average. The top 12 in the West average 2.30, while the East lags behind with a 2.48 goals-against average. When it comes to save percentage, the West holds a 0.926 to 0.922 advantage.

 

Top 25 qualified Eastern Conference goaltenders sorted by Wins (Y!PRk is Yahoo Pre-season Ranking and the next column is Current Ranking):

 

Player

Team

Y!PRk

Y!CRk

GP

W

L

OTL

GAA

SV%

Andrei Vasilevskiy

TB

16

1

39

27

9

2

2.27

0.927

Braden Holtby

WAS

2

16

34

24

9

1

2.70

0.916

Frederik Andersen

TOR

17

12

40

23

13

4

2.68

0.920

Sergei Bobrovsky

CLS

4

10

38

21

14

3

2.44

0.920

Henrik Lundqvist

NYR

15

7

40

21

12

4

2.54

0.924

Tuukka Rask

BOS

10

11

30

17

8

4

2.17

0.921

Cory Schneider

NJ

19

23

33

17

9

6

2.74

0.915

Brian Elliott

PHI

21

44

36

17

11

7

2.84

0.906

Matt Murray

PIT

3

54

31

15

12

1

2.93

0.903

Jimmy Howard

DET

29

29

37

14

15

6

2.74

0.913

Jaroslav Halak

NYI

22

63

31

14

14

2

3.24

0.906

Carey Price

MON

1

51

33

13

16

4

2.96

0.908

James Reimer

FLA

40

49

31

13

12

5

3.04

0.910

Cam Ward

CAR

41

46

20

12

5

2

2.75

0.907

Craig Anderson

OTT

20

69

34

12

15

5

3.24

0.899

Anton Khudobin

BOS

47

20

17

10

2

4

2.38

0.924

Tristan Jarry

PIT

53

26

18

9

4

2

2.44

0.919

Scott Darling

CAR

23

66

28

9

12

6

2.94

0.895

Robin Lehner

BUF

24

62

35

9

18

6

3.06

0.907

Keith Kinkaid

NJ

51

67

14

7

4

2

3.28

0.892

Roberto Luongo

FLA

27

25

15

6

6

1

2.62

0.928

Michal Neuvirth

PHI

44

22

13

5

5

1

2.23

0.928

Philipp Grubauer

WAS

50

38

16

4

6

3

2.56

0.917

Petr Mrazek

DET

30

71

13

4

5

1

3.43

0.894

Mike Condon

OTT

182

75

15

3

5

4

3.48

0.894

 

 

Top 25 qualified Eastern Conference goaltenders sorted by Goals-Against Average:

 

Player

Team

Y!PRk

Y!CRk

GP

W

L

OTL

GAA

SV%

Tuukka Rask

BOS

10

11

30

17

8

4

2.17

0.921

Michal Neuvirth

PHI

44

22

13

5

5

1

2.23

0.928

Andrei Vasilevskiy

TB

16

1

39

27

9

2

2.27

0.927

Anton Khudobin

BOS

47

20

17

10

2

4

2.38

0.924

Sergei Bobrovsky

CLS

4

10

38

21

14

3

2.44

0.920

Tristan Jarry

PIT

53

26

18

9

4

2

2.44

0.919

Henrik Lundqvist

NYR

15

7

40

21

12

4

2.54

0.924

Philipp Grubauer

WAS

50

38

16

4

6

3

2.56

0.917

Roberto Luongo

FLA

27

25

15

6

6

1

2.62

0.928

Frederik Andersen

TOR

17

12

40

23

13

4

2.68

0.920

Braden Holtby

WAS

2

16

34

24

9

1

2.70

0.916

Cory Schneider

NJ

19

23

33

17

9

6

2.74

0.915

Jimmy Howard

DET

29

29

37

14

15

6

2.74

0.913

Cam Ward

CAR

41

46

20

12

5

2

2.75

0.907

Brian Elliott

PHI

21

44

36

17

11

7

2.84

0.906

Matt Murray

PIT

3

54

31

15

12

1

2.93

0.903

Scott Darling

CAR

23

66

28

9

12

6

2.94

0.895

Carey Price

MON

1

51

33

13

16

4

2.96

0.908

James Reimer

FLA

40

49

31

13

12

5

3.04

0.910

Robin Lehner

BUF

24

62

35

9

18

6

3.06

0.907

Jaroslav Halak

NYI

22

63

31

14

14

2

3.24

0.906

Craig Anderson

OTT

20

69

34

12

15

5

3.24

0.899

Keith Kinkaid

NJ

51

67

14

7

4

2

3.28

0.892

Petr Mrazek

DET

30

71

13

4

5

1

3.43

0.894

Mike Condon

OTT

182

75

15

3

5

4

3.48

0.894

 

Boston – Outside of Andrei Vasilevskiy, there is no other Eastern Conference goaltender that I’d rather own right now than Tuukka Rask. Rask has the third ranked goals-against average in the NHL. Anton Khudobin has been a nice play if you have been lucky enough to play him on his starts. He has the tenth best goals-against average and save percentage in the NHL amongst qualified players.

 

Buffalo – Much more was expected from Robin Lehner and the Sabres. Lehner’s poor numbers are more a reflection of the team, but a 0.907 save percentage isn’t going to help win many games.

 

 

Carolina – I was not as high on Scott Darling as some were heading into the season. Cam Ward has put up better numbers in eight less games, but it’s all relative when we’re talking about a 2.75 goals-against average and 0.907 save percentage being the better of the two. It will be interesting to see if the Hurricanes attempt to re-sign the pending unrestricted free agent Ward in the off-season.

 

Columbus –I had high hopes for Sergei Bobrovsky and the Blue Jackets. They have both delivered decent results, but there is still room to improve for the number 10 Yahoo ranked goaltender.

 

Detroit – Many thought Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek would evenly split the starts this season. That all went out the window with the way Howard started the season. His record in October was only 5-4-0 with a goals-against average of 2.57, but his save percentage was a sweet 0.927. Howard faltered a little in November and December, but Mrazek was unable to wrest the starting job completely away from Howard.

 

Florida – I think most of us thought that James Reimer would take over the number one role from the 63-year-old Roberto Luongo this season. For the most part that has happened, but may not have happened by now if the Panthers resident senior citizen hadn’t found his way onto the injured reserve list. Luongo had a very hot run starting from November 7th going 5-3-0 with a 2.01 goals-against average and 0.943 save percentage until suffering a groin injury on December 4th.

 

Reimer had a brutal start to his season, sporting a 4-6-1 record with a 3.73 goals-against average and 0.889 save percentage. In December, he was much better, going 7-3-3 with a 2.35 goals-against average and 0.932 save percentage. His January has not been very good, a 2-3-1 record with a 3.37 goals-against average and 0.898 save percentage. It will be interesting to see if Bobby Lou can return to form and take back the number one job.

 

Montreal – Obviously for Carey Price owners (this guy included), it’s been a disappointing season to say the least. We expected at least a top-five goaltender, but he’s now the 51st ranked goaltender. That hurts, but fantasy owners and Habs fans can hope that over the final 35 games, Price can deliver a top-10 performance.

 

New Jersey – Expectations were low for both the Devils and Cory Schneider at the start of the season. While New Jersey has exceeded expectations, Schneider has a not so great goals-against average of 2.74 and a pedestrian save percentage of 0.915.

 

New York Islanders – Heading into the season, the Isles goaltending looked to be their biggest question mark. That has proven to be true. Jaroslav Halak has underperformed all season with a 3.24 goals-against average and 0.906 save percentage. The team is one point out of a wild card spot. Imagine where they would be with average goaltending.

 

New York Rangers – Henrik Lundqvist has been better than expected. His goals-against average is a mediocre 2.54, but his 0.924 save percentage is tied for fourth best in the East. Long live the King.

 

Ottawa – Many thought that this team would be in the mix for a playoff spot, but they haven’t played very well. It’s not all on Craig Anderson, but in the games I’ve watched, he hasn’t looked very good. The Sens are 24th in goals scored per game and third last in goals against. That’s not nearly good enough to challenge for a playoff position.

 

Philadelphia – Not many people thought very highly of the Flyers goaltending tandem heading into the season. The team has scored 2.91goals per game (14th in the NHL) while allowing 2.79 goals against (13th best) per contest. Backup Michal Neuvirth leads the Eastern Conference in save percentage with a sweet 0.928, although he’s only played in 13 games. Starter Brian Elliott has less than stellar numbers, a 2.84 goals-against average and a 0.906 save percentage, but sports a 17-11-7 record.

 

Pittsburgh – Such high hopes for Matt Murray, so many disappointed fantasy owners. A 15-12-1 record isn’t so bad, but his 2.93 goals-against average and 0.903 save percentage is abysmal. Murray was the number three ranked goaltender in Yahoo heading into the season. He currently sits at number 54 in the rankings. Tristan Jarry has been better in the games he has played with a 2.44 goals-against average and 0.919 save percentage. I still expect Murray to have a very good second half when he returns to action.

 

Tampa Bay – I had Andrei Vasilevskiy ranked higher than Yahoo’s 16th best. Currently, the top fantasy goaltender in the NHL with a 27-9-2 record, a 2.27 goals-against average and 0.927 save percentage. It doesn’t hurt that the Lightning have been the top team in their Conference this year. The injury to Victor Hedman might have contributed to the numbers Vasilevskiy has recorded in January; a 2-4-1 record, 3.41 goals-against average and sub-par 0.891 save percentage. This stretch should be just a short-term blip on what is a breakout campaign for the 23-year-old Russian.

 

Toronto – After a poor opening month (6-5-0, 3.46, 0.896), Frederik Andersen logged an excellent November (9-2-1, 2.14, 0.938). December and January have been very average with a combined 8-6-3 record, 2.57 goals-against average and nice 0.923 save percentage. The Maple Leafs playoff hopes will hinge on how well this team can defend in its own end.

 

Washington – Owners of Brayden Holtby have to be mildly disappointed. Sure, he owns a 24-9-1 record, but that 2.70 goals-against average and 0.916 save percentage are far off last season’s 2.07 and 0.925. Look for a nice second half from the Caps and Holtby.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

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