a·cu·men [ak-yuh-muhn] noun: keen insight; shrewdness

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Saturday, 9 November 2013

11/09/13 The Deceptive Nature of Goaltending

Your eyes can deceive you. Goalies can appear to be extremely poor and extremely excellent in small sample sizes. That doesn't make either thing the truth about a player.

Much has been made of Devan Dubnyk's struggles this season, which has led to the Oilers adding Ilya Bryzgalov out of desperation. Over the last two seasons Bryzgalov has stopped  2372 of 2620 shots he faced over the course of 99 games. That's a 0.905 save percentage, and a large enough sample size that we can say he's got a recent history of poor play overall. He's also 33 years old and on the wrong side of the development curve.

On the other hand, before Saturday's game Devan Dubnyk stopped 258 of 294 shots in 11 games for a 0.878 Sv% and looks like he needs to be replaced. But is that so? Here's some food for thought:

In 2011-12, Henrik Lundqvist won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goaltender. However, Lundqvist had a stretch of ten games that year where he sported an unsightly 0.888 Sv%, stopping just 223 of the 251 shots he faced in that span. That's ten whole games where a Vezina trophy winner barely looked like an AHL goaltender.

Lundqvist finished that season with a 0.930 Sv%.

Keep small sample sizes in mind. Don't trade actual NHL players (Smid) to make room for average goalies when goaltending isn't the solution. But it's the Oilers and perpetual stupidity is the status quo.

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