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Playoff Goalies, The Good And Bad

from Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News,

We’re only a week into the playoffs and already there have been an assortment of twists and turns to deal with. The Habs are through to the second round, while the Kings are almost through, period. And while goaltending can’t explain every result, it has been prominent – as Pittsburgh found out last night. With that in mind, I present the Stanley Cup faith-o-meter. Adjust your rosaries accordingly.

Ken Dryden-Approved
Tuukka Rask, Boston – gave up one goal and somehow lost the opener, but still 2-1 with 0.67 goal-against average.
Carey Price, Montreal – Stared down Steven Stamkos and the Kids in four games and said “meh.”
Antti Niemi, San Jose – Just doin’ his thing while his Sharks light up the Kings.
Jimmy Howard, Detroit – Has given up just three even-strength goals in three games to powerful Bruins.
Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers – Hasn’t been busy, but getting the job done.
Semyon Varlamov, Colorado – Regular season set a high standard, but his one loss came in OT after a 60-minute shutout.

Super, But Human
Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus – Gave up three on 11 shots last night, but then shut the door the rest of the way versus Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

continued

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Comments

YzermanZetterberg's avatar

Jimmy Howard, Detroit – Has given up just three even-strength goals in three games to powerful Bruins.

This is an excellent example of how statistics can be misleading. Based on the first goal in game 2 alone (when he fired the puck off Smith and the boards instead of either making a more controlled pass or reversing the puck), I would put Jimmy in the “Jury Still Out” category. IMO, that’s by far the worst of his gaffes—but it isn’t the only one.

It seems like all season long, he had a pattern of one good game followed by two or three where he let in bad goals and/or made costly mental mistakes. Hopefully, he can bounce back tonight and stay on track.

Posted by YzermanZetterberg on 04/24/14 at 10:01 AM ET

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Posted by YzermanZetterberg on 04/24/14 at 10:01 AM ET

And this is a case of biases being misleading.

Yes, he made a really bad play on that first goal, but minus that gaffe (which was as much crappy luck as it was a misplay) and he’s only given up two even strength goals in three games.  And he pitched a shutout against the third best offense in the league.

He may not quite be “Ken Dryden-approved” but he’s closer to “Super, But Human” than “Jury Still Out”.

Posted by Garth on 04/24/14 at 10:23 AM ET

Primis's avatar

This is an excellent example of how statistics can be misleading.

Posted by YzermanZetterberg on 04/24/14 at 10:01 AM ET

Or the stats don’t fit the argument for Howard Haters, so the best/only counter they have us that the “stats are misleading/flawed”.  DET’s scored 2 goals in 3 gamed now.  That’s not Howard’s fault.

Posted by Primis on 04/24/14 at 10:24 AM ET

Itrusteddrrahmani's avatar

Alright so if there are biases on both sides and cherry picking statistics can be misleading let’s just look at the overall numbers.

He has a shutout in the first game (great)
Saves 25/29 in the second game (not great)
Saves 31/33 in the third game (great)

2.02 GAA (4th in the playoffs), .931 Save % (4th in the playoffs)

So I’d say by pretty much all accounts he’s doing really well. I’m not sure why everyone is so intent on hating on him, especially when the real problem lies in the lack of offensive output. My only question is what would everyone be saying if we had been scoring goals and we were up 2-1 in the series? I feel like in that case the Howard haters would be his biggest fans.

Posted by Itrusteddrrahmani from Nyc by way of A2 on 04/24/14 at 10:43 AM ET

YzermanZetterberg's avatar

First, it is absolutely true that the Wings aren’t going anywhere but golfing if they don’t start scoring more goals. Jimmy can stand on his head all game-every game, but it won’t matter if the Wings can’t get the puck past Rask.

Second, I don’t consider myself a “Howard Hater” at all, but the points at which he’s given up “bad” goals in games 2 and 3 have definitely swung momentum to the Bruins. Regardless of how few there have been, they’ve been pretty costly.

IIRC, Dan Cloutier was playing pretty well against the Wings in 2002…at least until Lidstrom scored on him from center ice.

I’m not comparing Howard to Cloutier—so please don’t go there. I’m just pointing out that one bad goal can be too many. Hopefully, Jimmy and the rest of the Wings are going to get it together and win the series (and Cup).

Posted by YzermanZetterberg on 04/24/14 at 11:15 AM ET

Avatar

He should be in the super but human category.

what would everyone be saying if we had been scoring goals and we were up 2-1 in the series

Even if the Wings had scored more goals, I don’t think they’re up 2-1 in the series.  Jimmy’s gaffes have allowed Boston to play 5 men deep and clog up the zone early in the last two games.  They are not attacking at all after getting the lead, preferring instead to rely on poor puck management by the Wings to create their scoring chances.

Posted by jkm2011 on 04/24/14 at 12:00 PM ET

silversailer's avatar

I know the main reason we are out of this is the lack of goal scoring. I know that.
But I don’t understand the Howard supporters pretending that he hasn’t made any mistakes that have ended up costing the team. Just because they aren’t the sole reason we are behind doesn’t mean his mistakes don’t matter!

Posted by silversailer on 04/24/14 at 12:14 PM ET

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Posted by silversailer on 04/24/14 at 12:14 PM ET

Please, find one person who has said that he hasn’t made any mistakes.

Posted by Garth on 04/24/14 at 12:25 PM ET

silversailer's avatar

There are a ton of people pretending that his miscues aren’t part of the reason why we are down here.

Posted by silversailer on 04/24/14 at 12:36 PM ET

SK77's avatar

There are a ton of people pretending that his miscues aren’t part of the reason why we are down here.

Posted by silversailer on 04/24/14 at 12:36 PM ET

And there are a few misguided souls pretending the reason the Wings are down in this series is because of Howard’s play. Whatever helps yah sleep at night, I guess.

Posted by SK77 on 04/24/14 at 12:52 PM ET

Itrusteddrrahmani's avatar

Posted by YzermanZetterberg on 04/24/14 at 11:15 AM ET

I understand your logic in saying the saves he should have made, really could have changed the outcome of the game. My only point is that his body of work thus far in the playoffs has been pretty great. No doubt, one or two plays can make or break a goalie’s game. Just look at Fleury yesterday. Having a great game for 59 minutes, then completely imploded.

Posted by Itrusteddrrahmani from Nyc by way of A2 on 04/24/14 at 01:04 PM ET

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There are a ton of people pretending that his miscues aren’t part of the reason why we are down here.

What a crock.

Posted by Garth on 04/24/14 at 01:06 PM ET

SK77's avatar

Just look at Fleury yesterday. Having a great game for 59 minutes, then completely imploded.

Posted by Itrusteddrrahmani from Nyc by way of A2 on 04/24/14 at 01:04 PM ET

The only problem with that example is in Fleury’s case his team had actually scored goals and put the team in a position to win, before Flower crapped the bed and arguably lost them the game.

The Wings have yet to be in a position this series where Howard legitimately cost them a game.

Posted by SK77 on 04/24/14 at 01:10 PM ET

silversailer's avatar

And there are a few misguided souls pretending the reason the Wings are down in this series is because of Howard’s play.

I’m not one of them. There isn’t a single reason why we’re down; there’s a number of reasons, some of them bigger than Howard’s.
There is, however, a huge number of people who think that any negative thing Howard does somehow doesn’t contribute to those reasons, essentially giving him a free pass to make careless and stupid mistakes as much as he wants and then not hold him accountable the way you would anyone else on the team. I’m not going to give him a free pass.

Posted by silversailer on 04/24/14 at 02:24 PM ET

SK77's avatar

I’m not going to give him a free pass.

Posted by silversailer on 04/24/14 at 02:24 PM ET

Good on you, sir.

Posted by SK77 on 04/24/14 at 02:47 PM ET

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I think the the problem people have with Jimmy Howard, really, is the fact that he is an average to above average NHL starting goalie being held (like all starting goalies really) to a standard that maybe only 2-3 guys in the game can really meet.

He will have good games and middling games. He will make some great saves and let in some goals he would like to have back. Overall he will have moderately more good days than bad, and he will do better than most of his peers, but he is not an all-star caliber goalie, he never was, and at age 30 he almost certainly never will be.

I think Jimmy has been very good in these playoffs so far. He’s allowed just 6 goals on 87 shots in 3 games against a great team. He has also made some mistakes, and he’s gotten lucky on a few things that got past him but didn’t find the net. But considering who he is and what I expect from him (i.e., above-average performance that will give his team a good chance to win if they play reasonably well) I’ve been satisfied with his play.

Obviously if he were Henrik Lundqvist instead of Jimmy Howard the Red Wings would be better off. So if you want to hold Jimmy personally responsible and blame him for not being elite, fine, that’s your prerogative. But I think that’s an unreasonable standard, and I think both in general and in this series in particular, goaltending is not even close to being the Wings’ biggest area of concern.

Could the Wings’ goaltending be upgraded? Sure. And if a better goalie becomes available at a reasonable cost, let me be the first to volunteer to pack Jimmy’s bags and drive him to the airport. But Jimmy is not a bad NHL starter. He is more than good enough to win on a respectable team and most nights will give his team a good chance to win if they play well. The bigger problem is that the team in front of him hasn’t been very good.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 04/24/14 at 04:02 PM ET

silversailer's avatar

I just don’t see why people have a problem when others are trying hold him accountable for his mistakes. If there was any other 5th year, prime of his career player on this roster, people would hold them accountable if they continued to make ‘rookie’ mistakes.

But since he’s a goalie (kinda of an important position in hockey!) this 5th year player can continue to make rookie mistake after rookie mistake and nobody is allowed to point them out or hold him accountable?

Jimmy obviously isn’t the reason why we’re not in this series. But I don’t see the problem in trying to get him to limit his mistakes that are contributing or sometimes directly leading to goals against.

Posted by silversailer on 04/24/14 at 05:36 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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