Putting Goalies on the Spot

Last week I dug into the offensive end of NHL shootouts, so now we need to give the goaltenders their due. As we consider goaltender success during the shootout, a significant aspect to contend with is the quantity of Missed Shots (roughly one out of eight shootout attempts misses the net entirely). Within the table below, I'm including them in a "Stop Pct.", since by definition, Missed Shots aren't included in a goaltender's regular save percentage. When it comes to the shootout, however, I'm inclined to give the netminder some credit for forcing the shooter into an untenable option. So let's get to the results, including the 2005-06 season, and this year up through the games of February 4:



Top 10 SO Goalies by Stop Pct.
GoaltenderSO AttemptsSO GoalsSavesMissedStop Pct.
Marc Denis, TBL325243.844
Kari Lehtonen, ATL397284.821
Henrik Lundqvist, NYR63124011.810
Rick DiPietro, NYI6716483.761
Tim Thomas, BOS5413392.759
Pascal LeClaire, CBJ338205.758
Manny Fernandez, MIN5113299.745
Ryan Miller, BUF4311257.744
Marty Turco, DAL55152911.727
Mathieu Garon, LAK298192.724


Note: Minimum 25 SO attempts faced.
EDIT: Corrected Ryan Miller's missed shots figure to 7, rather than 11 (typo). Thanks to Tim for the heads-up email.



Just as in the offensive analysis, we see a somewhat unexpected bunch of names here. None of the current Top 10 leaders in Save Percentage show up in this leaderboard.

And just as we broke down our shooters by nationality, let's take a look at the goaltending:



Stop Pct. by Country
GoaltenderSO AttemptsSO GoalsSavesMissedStop Pct.
Sweden116217322.819
Switzerland61183112.705
USA2798416530.699
Canada832277439116.667
Russia4416244.636
Czech Rep.62232910.629
South Africa5822279.621
Finland186749022.602
Slovakia3015114.500


Note: Minimum 25 SO attempts faced.

If you recall from last week's look at the shooters, the Finns were well out ahead of the rest of the pack. In goal, however, it's an entirely different story (and I'd bet they're not too happy about seeing the Swedes way up at the top). Perhaps the reason those Finnish shooters are performing so well is that they've got so much confidence after competing against lousy Finnish goaltenders? Hey, it's a theory...

Now here's where things get real interesting. Much as in baseball, where managers often pinch-hit to obtain the proper lefty/righty matchup between batter and pitcher, a detailed analysis here may suggest that NHL coaches should take just such a consideration when selecting snipers for the shootout. The table below shows shootout results based on the handedness of the shooter, versus the catching hand of the goaltender. Among goaltenders, about 90% of this action involves left-handed catching gloves, and among shooters, lefties make up about two-thirds. What the numbers suggest here is that coaches should, in general, select players who shoot with the same hand that the opposing goalie catches with. Against left-handed catchers, lefty shooters have a 9.1% better shooting percentage (37.3 - 28.2), and against right-handed catchers, right-handed shooters boast a 7.8% edge (32.8 - 25.0). Unless you've got one of the elite SO artists like Slava Kozlov, Jussi Jokinen, Paul Kariya, or a handful of others, NHL coaches would be wise to take advantage of this aspect of the matchup issue. As always, feel free to print out these results, and take them with you to the rink so you can yell them to the coach during crunch time. I'm sure he'll thank you!



Lefty/Righty SO Matchup Matrix
MatchupSO AttemptsSO GoalsShoot Pct.
L Shoot/L Goalie97136237.3%
L Shoot/R Goalie1082725.0%
R Shoot/L Goalie57716328.2%
R Shoot/R Goalie581932.8%




Last, but not least... well, actually last and least, we present our list of the worst goaltending performers in the shootout. When you see these guys in the opposing net, feel free to chalk up that extra point in the standings:



Bottom 10 SO Goalies by Stop Pct.
GoaltenderSO AttemptsSO GoalsSavesMissedStop Pct.
Peter Budaj, COL3015114.500
Mikka Kiprusoff, CGY3316116.515
Dwayne Roloson, EDM3215125.531
Curtis Sanford, STL2712132.556
Marc-Andre Fleury, PIT2511140.560

Alexander Auld, FLA
3013134.567
Dominik Hasek, DET2711106.593
Ed Belfour, FLA3413192.618
Olaf Kolzig, WSH5822279.621
Nikolai Khabibulin, CHI3713204 .649


Note: Minimum 25 SO attempts faced.
EDIT: Yikes! Another typo! Hasek faced 27 attempts, not 10 as originally posted. Thanks to Ian for holding my toes to the fire...