Two dudes blogging and podcasting about the San Jose Sharks, straight from sunny California.

post Final Thoughts – Mostly Goaltending

April 14th, 2010, 3:02 pm

Filed under: blog — Written by Mike

Only hours away before puckdrop, and in visiting my usual blog suspects this morning, I got a little more interested in the goaltending matchup.  On the podcast (scroll down) David said that Anderson needs to have a near-perfect series in order to win, and I guess I might have mistakenly took this to mean that the Sharks have a goaltending advantage.  Gabe Desjardins disagrees, to put it mildly:

Is there any aspect of the game where Colorado’s better than San Jose?  Just one: goaltending.  Craig Anderson is a vastly better goaltender than Evgeni Nabokov, even if Nabokov has somehow managed to put up respectable numbers this season.

I asked him about it a bit in the comments saying I’d put them about even, and his reply was:

Since the lockout: Craig Anderson save percentage = .916; Nabokov = .910. Nabby sucked for four seasons; he didn’t become good this year.

Interesting.  I wouldn’t make the claim that Nabby is an elite goaltender, and reading the great Brodeur Is a Fraud blog where the argument is made that SV% isn’t the perfect stat, but it’s a hell of a lot better than all the others, seems to back this up.  However, Nabby does have a better SV% this year than Anderson – .921 to .916.  Also, after reading this and this from Jonathan Willis, we see that Nabby and Anderson are above average in consistency, with SV% standard deviations of 0.064 and 0.054, respectively.  Those are new numbers I calculated based on their stats from the entire regular season.  We did see Nabby regress a bit in save percentage, as Gabe pointed out, but stayed relatively consistent.

Also, since Nabby ‘sucked’ the last four years, I wanted to find out the difference between sucking and not.  So let’s look at last year, where Nabby’s SV% was 0.910, good for 27th in the league.  Certainly not great, not even good.  If Nabby faced the exact same number of shots, and ended up with a 0.921 SV%, a tick better than Bobby Lou and good for 4th in the league, I think we could call that a great (or even elite) performance.  So what was the difference between Nabby’s and Luongo’s performances?

That’s seventeen goals over the course of the season, equivalent to around 4 or 5 wins.  Another way to put it , since Nabby only played 62 games, that’s one goal every 3.6 outings.  To me, that doesn’t sound like a lot.  It really shows that the difference between an average or below-average goalie and an excellent goalie is very small- just one fewer shot facing a late lateral push, an open 5-hole or a sluggish glove.  If Nabokov didn’t do that once every 216 minutes of playing time he would have been a top-5 goalie in the NHL last year, versus a top-30.

Oh yeah, GO SHARKS.