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Are Goalies the New Baseball Relievers?


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#1 devilsrule33

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 01:10 PM

So what is it about goalies…and this isn’t about Brodeur. Anyone who follows baseball knows that relievers can be the most volatile athletes in sports. One year they’re good; the next…they’re not. Well, I think goaltenders have become the new relievers, or close to it, with their volatility reaching new levels. Don’t follow...well let me explain. Keep in mind that it is early in the year, and a lot can change, but the numbers are very wacky.

We’ll start with goalie graveyard connection. If you named two teams that have had more goalie problems over the last 15 years, it would be the Flyers and the Senators. Two teams who have struggled for years trying to find the guy for the future and two teams which have bad goaltending that has certainly cost them Stanley Cups. So let’s start with Philly. Here comes the savoir…the end of their goalie problems for years to come, and the final piece of their Stanley Cup puzzle. 9 years and 51-million for an all-star, a Vezina finalist, and a big reason for the Coyotes turn around. Most people saw this as a crazy contract. Way too many years. Too much money. Some thought it was a savvy deal because the rumour was he was looking for 7 million minimum. Well so far things are looking good for the Flyers as they have been 1st in the east of the most of the season. Still one missing piece though: GOALTENDING. Ilya Bryzgalov has been terrible. I’m talking about 30th in the league in GAA with 2.92 and 37th in save percentage at .896 terrible. It can’t get worse can it?

The next story has an Ottawa connection as it is the number 1 “are you fvcking kidding me story of the year”. That is former Sens and current St Louis Blues goalie Brian Elliott who leads the NHL in GAA (1.43!) Save Percentage (.948!) and shutouts (4). Now the Ottawa Senators were battling with NJ for worst team in the league for the 40-45 games last year. But they weren’t that bad of a team. They just had atrocious goaltending. Brian Elliot couldn’t make a key save. He’d let in back breaking goals at all times of the game. He finished the season in Ottawa with stats of 3.19 and .894. He’s the same goalie that two years prior, Senators fans believed would finally be their long-term answer in net. Now last February, the Avalanche were slipping out of a playoff spot and it was becoming clear that this wasn’t their year. So I am convinced they traded Anderson straight up for Elliott to tank for a top 3 pick. And it was a very smart move. The Avalanche dropped to the 2nd overall pick behind Elliott’s 3.83 and .891. Elliott had done his job and he was thrown out like trash. Well here is Brian Elliott leading the NHL in pretty much every goalie statistic. And I know some might say it is the Hitchcock factor like we saw with Leclaire and Mason, but Elliott was getting it done the entire time before Hitch took over. He’s just continued that run since the coaching change.

By the way, the goalie the Senators traded Elliot for and then proceeded to sign to a 4-year $12.75 million deal in the hopes of being a stabilizing force in nets, well he’s 42nd of 44 goalies eligible with a 3.42 GAA.

Moving on…I just finished talking about the Florida Panthers in my last post being off to an incredible shocking start. They lost Tomas Vokoun who was willing to take millions less in salary just to get away from Florida and play for a competitive hockey team. That left the Panthers with Scott Clemmensen. Dave Tallon spun his wheel and it landed on Jose Theodore. The same Jose Theodore that hasn’t been relevant since 2004 in Montreal and has only disappointed the teams he has played for since including the Capitals. Look up those stats of his since the lockout ended. It’s been ugly. (I do want to give him a bit of a pass the last few years for the heartbreak he went through a couple years back with the death of his infant baby. That had to be the toughest thing in the world) Well he has a .923 save percentage and is backstopping the best team in the southeast. As for the goalie that he replaced…Tomas Vokoun. That’s the 2-time all-star that has been so solid for so long, and been the only thing keeping the Panthers from being one of the worst teams in the league most years. Well as we talked about…he has been awful in Washington with 2.81 GAA. He’s having the worst statistical season since he was a rookie back in 1999.

Where to next? Why not Edmonton with Nikolai Khabibulin. He’s been sh!t on ever since he won the Cup with the Lightning in 2004. He signed a 4-year $27 million deal becoming the highest paid goalie in the league, which by the way everyone knew was the dumbest contract ever and one he would never live up to. And he didn’t. But that didn’t stop the Oilers from giving him a 4 years and $15 million deal. To summarize, he sucked for 5 of those 6 contract years before this season and was absolutely pathetic last year. This year he has only put up the best numbers of his career so far with a 2.00 GAA and .932 SVP. Makes sense of course.

Who else? Why not everyone’s favourite Conn Smythe winning goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere. He has been pretty damn bad since 2008 with Ducks and Leafs failing to post a GAA below 2.95. Giguere ended up signing a deal to be the Avalanche’s backup to former 1st round pick of the Capitals Semyon Varlamov. The Avalanche traded a top pick of their own which is certainly going to be a lottery pick AND a 2nd round pick. An awful trade by the Avalanche since they probably could have signed him to an offer-sheet with the compensation being a 2nd round pick! Anyway, Varlamov has been quite bad so far with a 3.14 GAA and a .896 SVP, while Giguere has been outstanding at less than half the price with a 1.86 GAA and a .927 SVP.

More? Ryan Miller was pedestrian last year after his Vezina and Olympic greatness season of 2010. This year he has flat out sucked with a 3.12 GAA, and been outplayed by his backup Enroth. Roberto Luongo is being paid a fortune for a very long time. That 12 year $64 million contract looks worse and worse every day. One because they have an excellent goalie in Corey Schneider, and two because Roberto Luongo has been struggling mightily. He is sporting the lowest save percentage since he was an Islander at .905 and a GAA of 2.62. And we don’t need to get into the season Dwayne Roloson is having since that was covered (3.67 GAA). Of course, I didn’t even mention all these former all-star goalies crapping it up on bad teams like Cam Ward (3.29, .899), Jonas Hiller (3.15, .898) and the disaster that is Steve Mason (one hit wonder? 3.52 and .880). Alright, my head’s spinning.

Now baseball has that one glue guy. He’s as reliable as death and taxes. That’s Yankees closer Mo Rivera. For years in the NHL it was Marty Brodeur, but now it seems he has passed that title to Tim Thomas. The reigning Stanley Cup, Vezina and Conn Smythe winner is only getting better when you thought it couldn’t be possible. He finished the playoffs with a 1.98 GAA and 9.40 save percentage, and remember he broke the NHL regular season record with a .938 percentage. So far this season .943 and 1.84. Not too shabby at all. And this isn’t to say Tim Thomas isn’t the only reliable goalie in the league. There are a bunch but none as damn good as Tim Thomas.

That’s it for now. I could go on, but I think the post is long enough. What does everyone make of all of this…that is if you finished the entire post? Has goaltending always been this messed up? Have they always been baseball’s equivalent of the relieiver? Maybe all these goalies will cool off and some will pick up their play. It’s something to look out for as the season continues. I don’t know how a GM picks a goalie, but what we have learned is that whoever you do pick…just don’t pay him…unless it’s Tim Thomas.
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#2 Triumph

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 01:41 PM

Great article - while I think this year has been particularly extreme, I think it demonstrates one thing that hockey stats types have been saying - the true talent of NHL goaltenders is not much different from one another. Every year we hear about a guy who's made his climb into the elite (Ward, Hiller, Miller, etc.), but it's really easy to have 20 games where the numbers look bad.

There's maybe four elite goaltenders in the NHL - maybe - Thomas, Lundqvist, Luongo, and Rinne. It typically just doesn't work out to pay big money for a goaltender.
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#3 Pepperkorn

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 01:41 PM

I was thinking along these lines too. I started to a while back with this glut in goalies and how Devils were always were losing against the back up. <_<

Very fun read. Thanks for always putting our thoughts and observations in one neat well articulated package!
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#4 lazer

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 01:46 PM

very good read

it took 10 years to get around on Mo but hes still the go to guy

the duck's reaction to hiller since the all star game is quacked, random PCS/vertigo...says hes fine but who knows now they are looking for a way out of his contract

moose is lights out but that is as a backup fighting for position edit; and i just cant help but notice how the team plays better for him, its obvious.

to me this is even more reason to not give up on brody, if anything as a .500 team that squeeks into the playoffs on a run and Im good with that cause post season take a differant kind of player who can step up to the plate.

Edited by lazer, 21 December 2011 - 01:50 PM.

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#5 sundstrom

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 01:51 PM

great stuff.

to Tri's point - i agree it's not worth it for a big money goaltender - but you can't have dreck either. the biggest problem with long commitments are just that - they're commitments and it's tough to get out if it doesn't work out. obviously, if marty wasn't marty, the devils would have likely looked for another goaltender already this year. i pray this is his last year completely - i don't even want him as the back up next year because his history will wind up getting him in 1/2 the games.
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#6 Daniel

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 01:54 PM

Illustrates why Marty, last two years excluded, has been so valuable (not to mention his relatively affordable contract). Up until last year, he never had an off year.

Also, people sometimes forget that Tim Thomas was Rask's back-up the year before last, so I think you could stick him in the volatile group, at least as far as his career as a whole is concerned.
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#7 lazer

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 02:20 PM

"22 SHG in 80GP is the record...we have 10 SHG as of last night...now work with me here if sv% is around 9 then that means about 90 short handed shots on goal against hah j/k

everyone wanted moose to post a shutout against the rags last night ok

Edited by lazer, 21 December 2011 - 02:22 PM.

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#8 Jas0nMacIsaac

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 02:23 PM

I checked earlier today, Brodeur's sv% on the PP is .870 while Hedberg is .90

Edited by Jas0nMacIsaac, 21 December 2011 - 02:23 PM.

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#9 devilsrule33

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 03:09 PM

great stuff.

to Tri's point - i agree it's not worth it for a big money goaltender - but you can't have dreck either. the biggest problem with long commitments are just that - they're commitments and it's tough to get out if it doesn't work out. obviously, if marty wasn't marty, the devils would have likely looked for another goaltender already this year. i pray this is his last year completely - i don't even want him as the back up next year because his history will wind up getting him in 1/2 the games.


That's the giant dilemma. You shouldn't overpay average goaltending like many teams have, but you can't leave your team out to try with dreck as it is the easiest way for a GM to have a one-way ticket out of town. But even doing that you can look like a genius as Dave Tallon is paying $1.5 million for Jose Theodore. I really think it comes down to pure luck. The most important position in hockey comes down to fvcking luck.

Illustrates why Marty, last two years excluded, has been so valuable (not to mention his relatively affordable contract). Up until last year, he never had an off year.

Also, people sometimes forget that Tim Thomas was Rask's back-up the year before last, so I think you could stick him in the volatile group, at least as far as his career as a whole is concerned.


I didn't forget. Thomas didn't really lose his job because of his play (although it certainly wasn't a great year for him), it was simply that Tuukka Rask was playing so damn well that season that it was hard not to play him.
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#10 sundstrom

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 03:14 PM

That's the giant dilemma. You shouldn't overpay average goaltending like many teams have, but you can't leave your team out to try with dreck as it is the easiest way for a GM to have a one-way ticket out of town. But even doing that you can look like a genius as Dave Tallon is paying $1.5 million for Jose Theodore. I really think it comes down to pure luck. The most important position in hockey comes down to fvcking luck.



I didn't forget. Thomas didn't really lose his job because of his play (although it certainly wasn't a great year for him), it was simply that Tuukka Rask was playing so damn well that season that it was hard not to play him.


i definitely think it's more than luck. hitching your wagon to a 39 year old whose shoulder is permanently injured and has twice as many miles as any goaltender ever is tough. i don't think it's hard to find a guy who can give you a .900 sv% and 2.50 GAA. in fact, i think there are really plenty of them out there. the problem is that too many teams are committed to guys that can't do that and have to keep rolling them out there because of their contract/legacy.

re: Thomas v Rask - IIRC, Thomas was average at best when Rask was coming on.
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#11 devilsrule33

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 03:21 PM

i definitely think it's more than luck. hitching your wagon to a 39 year old whose shoulder is permanently injured and has twice as many miles as any goaltender ever is tough. i don't think it's hard to find a guy who can give you a .900 sv% and 2.50 GAA. in fact, i think there are really plenty of them out there. the problem is that too many teams are committed to guys that can't do that and have to keep rolling them out there because of their contract/legacy.

re: Thomas v Rask - IIRC, Thomas was average at best when Rask was coming on.


I'm not talking about Brodeur because that is a completely different story. And I did say that it wasn't about him in the first line of my original post. I am talking about Brian Elliott being a sieve and now putting up stats I've never seen before. This is about all the names in that original post for some reason being good or being bad.

I guess you need to draft a good goalie, but even that seems like the ultimate crap shoot. Look at the best goalies in the game today that Tri mentioned (Lundqvist - 7th round, Rinne - 8th round, Thomas - 9th round).
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#12 DaneykoIsGod

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 04:30 PM

Without getting too far into my broken record spiel on this matter, I blame the butterfly and oversized equipment.
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#13 Colorado Rockies 1976

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 04:47 PM

Without getting too far into my broken record spiel on this matter, I blame the butterfly and oversized equipment.


Not a broken record at all. I have some Rockies' games on DVD (from the late 70s/early 80s), and the nets look huge behind the goalies compared to now.

Former 50-goal scorer Rick Vaive said when he was playing ('79-'92), especially in his prime, he would often cross the blue line, then grip-it-and-rip-it on net. He said he could never do that now, as he feels there isn't enough net to shoot at in today's game.

But good article and good read...funny how this position where the players already wear masks is becoming more and more faceless. So strange that soon the Devils will be just like almost everyone else...taking their goalie situation year-to-year or contract-to-contract. We knew who our #1 guy was going to be from late in the '94 season on. We'll probably never see a guy like Marty, in terms of durability, consistency, reliability for one team for so long ever again.

Edited by Colorado Rockies 1976, 21 December 2011 - 05:02 PM.

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#14 Triumph

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 04:51 PM

Without getting too far into my broken record spiel on this matter, I blame the butterfly and oversized equipment.


Sure, but the goalie spread wasn't that huge even before the butterfly.

Also dr33, I suggest a little project - take down the numbers of all the guys you mentioned, then look at the year end numbers. I think you'll find that most of the guys who are way up now will be further down and the guys who are down now will come back up.

I also am totally not sure if Rinne is actually great (the Predators overcounting shots helps), but he could possibly be elite if he puts up 2 more years like this.

Edited by Triumph, 21 December 2011 - 04:53 PM.

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#15 devlman

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 04:53 PM

Without getting too far into my broken record spiel on this matter, I blame the butterfly and oversized equipment.


I'll also add that many goalies are overhyped and proclaimed as being great after just a small body of work. Brian Elliott isnt all of a sudden great just because hes having a good start to the year. The true great goalies post solid numbers year after year. Why were Jonas Hiller and Varlamov ever considered to be amongst the best?
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#16 devilsrule33

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 05:14 PM

I'll also add that many goalies are overhyped and proclaimed as being great after just a small body of work. Brian Elliott isnt all of a sudden great just because hes having a good start to the year. The true great goalies post solid numbers year after year. Why were Jonas Hiller and Varlamov ever considered to be amongst the best?


This is true, but the fact that Brian Elliott is doing so well is kind of messed up. How many true great goalies are there? Hasek, Roy and Brodeur put up very good numbers year after year but they are considered the 3 greatest ever. No one ever considered Hiller and Varlamov amongst the best, but you also got to lock down your goalies before they become UFAs, or you take a chance and sign them after a good seaosn before they reproduce it again and again, and the next thing you know, you have to sign them for $7 million like the Preds with Rinne. The Blue Jackets did it twice with Pascal Leclaire and Steve Mason and it certainly didn't work out for either. Maybe the Ducks did it with Hiller, but would you be shocked if he puts up an outstanding season in a year or two?

The goaltending landscape is messed right now. Who the fvck knows what happens with Corey Schneider this off-season. You know some team might try to sign him to an offer-sheet he can't refuse and the Canucks can't match. It might be the best decision ever or blow up in their face magically. Or maybe, it will look awful for one year, then great the next, and awful again. The Bruins rolled the dice when they signed a pretty old goalie in Tim Thomas to a 4-year $20 million deal after his Conn Smythe season in 2008-2009, when they had a very highly touted prospect in Rask. And as we know things didn't work in year 1 when Rask basically became the starter. Ever since, it is an absolute bargain.

Tri, I'll definitely keep tabs on this thread and the goalies involved. I'll bump this thread after 55 games or so and then again when the season ends.
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#17 NJDevs4978

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 05:23 PM

Not a broken record at all. I have some Rockies' games on DVD (from the late 70s/early 80s), and the nets look huge behind the goalies compared to now.


I saw a picture of Marty and Luongo side-by-side recently (when they were in the Olympics) and they were the exact same height but you could notice the difference in the height of Luongo's pads compared to Marty's :lol:

But if it were all about the padding, Garth Snow would have become an All-Star too.
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#18 lazer

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 06:34 PM

fvck montoya concussed i thought he was playing well

the isls goalie debacle is another story

how old is nabokov like 37 too, besides DP i remember when poulin f'ed his knee

Edited by lazer, 21 December 2011 - 06:50 PM.

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#19 mouse

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 07:25 PM

The pads do help. They negate skill. If Marty was on in his prime, he was definitely the best out there. If he was off, he could be worse than a hot backup. If the pads didn't cover the net, a cold Marty is worth more because he just had more fvcking skills. Exciting as it is to watch a guy like Halak freakishly lead a team to the conference finals, I'd rather see a goalie earn it for real.

Also, the head still matters. Emery will always be an issue because he's crazy, while I'm fine having Marty around even another year because he's so valuable to the kids. How many times is he talking quietly to one of his dmen during a stoppage in play? Not ignoring them like Hasek, or ranting like Roy, but quietly telling them what they could do better. I played with a guy like him in college, and everybody on the ice got better. It's like having an extra coach. IMHO we're gonna miss that more than anything else when he's gone, especially since his skills are falling off and we're already getting used to having an average player in goal.
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#20 EdgeControl

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 07:27 PM

I also am totally not sure if Rinne is actually great (the Predators overcounting shots helps), but he could possibly be elite if he puts up 2 more years like this.

he doesnt have to be great, he's technicaly sound and his technique covers a huge amount of area. he's the new standard imo. the guy doesnt need to get his gloves up,(although he has a quick one) his shoulders cover the corners. and the butterfly covers the entire goal mouth. almost no sliding necessary.

Edited by EdgeControl, 21 December 2011 - 07:38 PM.

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