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Visualizing Save Percentage Plus: Part Three 2011-2014

Goaltending has not been the problem in Edmonton...

Ben Scrivens: an above-average NHL goaltender
Ben Scrivens: an above-average NHL goaltender
Chris LaFrance-USA TODAY Sports

This is the final part of a series on Save Percentage Plus (SV%+), a metric conceived by Kurt R at Broadstreet Hockey. As discussed in part one and part two of this series SV%+ is calculated as follows:

SV%+ = (1-league average SV%)/(1-player SV%)

What I like about SV%+ is that it expresses goalie performance in relation to a league average. League average save percentages can vary greatly between seasons. SV%+, therefore, provides a basis for comparison between seasons.

In this particular analysis I have visualized even-strength (esSV%+) and short-handed (shSV%+) performance separate from all-situations (allSV%+) performance. I have also visualized the number of unblocked shot-attempts that goaltenders have faced (Fenwick Against - FA). These visualizations have raised the suggestion that short-handed performance is possibly a skill of its own - see part two of this series.

Here are the interactive visualizations based on even-strength, short-handed, and all-situations data from the now defunct Extraskater for all three seasons previously available. esSV%+ (abcissa) is plotted against shSV%+ (ordinate). Lines at 100% indicate league averages. Bubble size indicates allSV%+. The darker the bubble the higher the FA.

2013-14 Chart and Table here

2012-13 Chart and Table here.

2011-12 chart and table here.

Please note that bubble positions (esSV%+, shSV%+) are consistent when comparing across all charts. Bubble size (allSV%+) is only comparable within charts and not between-charts.

The Quadrants

Generally speaking being above the centre line is good particularly if you are on a weak team, and being in the top-right hand quadrant is great. The upper right-hand quadrant contains data points that are above-average with respect to both esSV%+ and shSV%+. Elite preformances fall into this quadrant, and are not necessarily the outliers but the darker and larger bubbles in the top-right. The outliers are interesting but tend to be lighter in colour indicating goalies that have excelled at short-handed play while facing fewer Fenwicks. One is tempted to construct various narratives around these differences. In 2011-12 it was Schneider; in 2012-13 it was Khudobin, Lehner and Mason; and in 2013-14 Talbot, Stalock and Elliot.

The upper left-hand quadrant contains data-points that are above-average with respect to esSV%+ and less than average with respect to shSV%+. These points represent goalies that are under-performing when shorthanded or represent goalies on teams that have poor penalty killing percentages.

The lower left-hand quadrant contains below average esSV%+ and shSV%+ performances. Bubbles in this area will also tend to be smaller and lighter, as these data points will have lower associated allSV%+ and smaller FA values: bad goaltenders play less and face fewer Fenwicks.

The lower right-hand quadrant contains performances that are above-average with respect to shSV%+, but below average when in comes to esSV%+. These goalies are performing above expectations on the penalty kill, in comparison to their even-strength performance, or are less than average goalies on teams that have good penalty killing percentages.

A Few Good Men

Schneider is an interesting case. His short-handed performances have been excellent over the past three seasons, and his even strength numbers have been better than average. Since the 2013 trade the Devils have moved from 16th to 1st overall in PK%, whereas the Canucks sank one position from 8th to 9th. Does Schneider make the Devils' penalty kill that much better? In comparing Schneider to Luongo and Brodeur, Schneider is a much better goaltender than his colleagues in recent years. I believe MacT to be justified in his pursuit of Schneider during 2013 free-agent frenzy. By the numbers he appears to be an improvement over our current beloved goalies, as does Johnathan Bernier.

Talbot has received some attention lately with pundits wondering if he is a viable eventual replacement for Lundqvist. He is an outlier in this analysis, however, faced less-than 750 FA. Also, it's a good idea to keep in mind that this analysisdoes not bear in mind easier minutes or quality of competition. "King Cam"?? You decide.

These analyses show Rask to be an elite goaltender who is very much above average even strength, but strangely slightly below average short handed in 2013-14, on a team that was 8th overall with respect to penalty kill percentage. Is the PK Rask's weakness?

By the numbers we at Bituman figure that the 2013-14 Vezina belonged to Semyon Varlamov. We like Rask, but Varlamov was both bombarded and robbed.

Last season Varlamov, Bishop, and Price all performed similarly facing many shot-attempts. Varlamov and Bishop were exceptional values with cap hits less than three million, less-than half of Price's. Both have since re-signed for contracts more similar to Price's. Is a six million dollar cap hit too much for these goalies? Can they maintain this level of performance as they enter what is often considered to be NHL peak-performance years?

Robin Lehner recently signed a three year deal deal with a 2.25 million cap hit. His performance in 2013-14 wasn't dissimilar to Marc-André Fleury's, although he faced significantly less Fenwicks. Will Lehner continue to equal or better Fleury at less-than half the price?

The analysis pays-tribute here to some of the last years of a few outstanding goalies on their final tours of duty: Roloson's 2011-12 and Kiprusoff's 2012-13 season. It remarkable how consistent Kiprusoff was up until his final year. In 2011-12 he was still an elite level goaltender. We include Roloson because, well, he served-up one of the finest Oilers' goaltending playoff performances in history. Hats-off to the last two Alberta goalies to contend for the cup. Both warriors deserved better than second place.

How good are the Oilers' goalies?

Oilers 2011-2014 table and chart available here.

All goaltenders who have played for the Oilers for whom we have data, and who meet our selection criteria are included above. The team & year associated with each performance is listed.

The Oilers have generally received average or better than average even-strength goaltending, with the only less-than average performances being Dubnyk's 2013-14 season (very partially played with Nashville) and Khabibulin's 2011-12 season. I would argue that given the Oilers' atrocious Corsi-for percentage, that the goaltenders have been excellent: there are few performances in the bottom left-hand quadrant.

Ben Scrivens' 2013-14 performance is the closest to elite-level the Oilers have had in the past three years. He may be the best goaltender to dawn the orange and blue in some time. Second to Scrivens in this analysis is Dubnyk. During his time with Edmonton Dubnyk was mostly above-average. Do you scrap an above-average player for a terrible start to a season? I don't think so, unless there are irreconcilable differences between the coaching staff and the player.

There have only been two above-average short-handed performances from Oilers' goalies in the past three seasons (Dubnyk 2012-13, Scrivens 2013-14). During this time Edmonton has been in the middle of the pack with regards to PK% (14th, 9th, and 15th respectively). One way for a young team to rise in the standings is by improving their special teams. In this regard it seem that Scrivens might help Edmonton if he can maintain his above average short handed save percentage.

The Edmonton Oilers' goaltending is not the problem.


Thank you to Derek Zona for inspiring me to create these kinds of charts and for helping me to display them on C&B. Thank you to aluchko for his comments in part one. Thank you also to Bruce McCurdy for the encouragement. Thanks to Extraskater for even-strength and short-handed save percentage data. And most of all thanks to Kurt R. from Broadstreet Hockey for proposing an interesting metric.