If you could take any goalie in the NHL for a playoff run, you would probably choose Martin Brodeur or Roberto Luongo or possibly Ryan Miller because of his excellent season. Yesterday I wrote an article about Ilya Kovalchuk's value and did some calculations to see who were the top scorers in the past three years in the NHL. I thought those statistics were an excellent indicator of who the best forwards are right now in the NHL. I figured it would be interesting to do the same thing for goalies and see who the best goalies in the NHL have been in the past three years.
I decided to take all goalies who have played over 5,000 minutes in the past three years and sorted them my save percentage:
1 - Craig Anderson - 0.925 - 2.49 - 6103 mins
2 - Tomas Vokoun - 0.924 - 2.52 - 10691 mins
3 - Tim Thomas - 0.924 - 2.33 - 8872 mins
4 - Jonas Hiller - 0.919 - 2.49 - 6627 mins
5 - Ryan Miller - 0.918 - 2.46 - 11300 mins
6 - Roberto Luongo - 0.918 - 2.39 - 10663 mins
7 - Ty Conklin - 0.917 - 2.54 - 5230 mins
8 - Niklas Backstrom - 0.917 - 2.41 - 10437 mins
9 - Martin Brodeur - 0.917 - 2.28 - 10115 mins
10 - Henrik Lundqvist - 0.916 - 2.37 - 11850 mins
Surprise, surprise! Craig Anderson? Tomas Vokoun? Tim Thomas? Those three goalies have saved 0.5% more shots than any other goalie in the NHL over the past three years. These stats are extremely intriguing but of course we have to take a closer look as we do with all statistics.
I decided to look at the shots for and against for each team at home and on the road. The following chart shows the top five and bottom five for total shots (for + against) at home divided by total shots on the road over the last three years:
1 - Colorado - 1.07
2 - Nashville - 1.05
3 - Anaheim - 1.05
4 - Tampa Bay - 1.05
5 - Florida - 1.04
26 - Vancouver - 0.96
27 - Pittsburgh - 0.96
28 - Minnesota - 0.94
29 - New Jersey - 0.93
30 - St. Louis - 0.92
A higher number means that the total number of shots at home is higher than on the road. There are two possible reasons for this: the home statistician counts more shots than the average statistician or the team plays a more open game at home. In order to rule out the second theory, I compared those numbers with total games at home and on the road and there was no correlation between the two. It could be true for a small number of teams but I'll assume it's not the case.
I decided to recalculate the save percentages in the past three seasons with adjustments based on the numbers above. Here are the new adjusted rankings:
1 - Tim Thomas - 0.924
2 - Craig Anderson - 0.923
3 - Tomas Vokoun - 0.923
4 - Martin Brodeur - 0.920
5 - Niklas Backstrom - 0.920
6 - Roberto Luongo - 0.919
7 - Ty Conklin - 0.918
8 - Jonas Hiller - 0.917
9 - Ryan Miller - 0.917
10 - Henrik Lundqvist - 0.915
Although these adjustments moved Martin Brodeur up the list, he is still behind the top three of Tim Thomas, Craig Anderson and Tomas Vokoun. One could argue that Tim Thomas and Craig Anderson haven't been solid for a long enough period of time to be considered amongst the best but what about Tomas Vokoun? Let's compare Vokoun's numbers over the past five years with Luongo's and Brodeur's:
Tomas Vokoun - 289 GP - 26 SO - 2.53 GAA - 142 Wins - 0.923 Save%
Martin Brodeur - 322 GP - 33 SO - 2.32 GAA - 191 Wins - 0.917 Save%
Roberto Luongo - 335 GP - 28 SO - 2.49 GAA - 185 Wins - 0.918 Save%
As you can see, Vokoun has played nearly as many games as the other two and has a better save percentage. The only advantage that Brodeur and Luongo have is that they are on much better teams, and hence, have more wins and a lower goals against average.
Sure Vokoun has only made the playoffs twice in his career and has never made it past the first round but Luongo hasn't had much more success. Roberto Luongo now has an Olympic gold medal but Vokoun was dominant in the Vancouver Olympics. Unfortunately for him, the Czechs didn't score enough goals and he didn't receive the credit he deserved for his performances.
It is surprising that no NHL team made a move for Vokoun at the deadline because, in my opinion, it is obvious that Vokoun should be in the discussion for the best goalie in the NHL. If a GM from a contending team has the guts to trade for him and his 5.7M cap hit in the off-season, it could really pay off.