by PuckStopsHere on 09/03/12 at 12:48 PM ET
Yesterday I began to look at goaltenders in the current NHL era. This is the time since the 2004/05 lockout which is coming to an end with the upcoming lockout this season. It is a seven year period where the NHL operated under the current CBA with a salary cap imposed for the first time. In my first look at goaltending I posted the winningest goalies in the era. This does a good job of showing the goalies who played the most games in the era. It doesn't directly show which goalies was the best one. As long as the goalie maintained his starting job he had a chance to win. The more games he played the more games he would win.
The simplest stat to look at to show how well the goalies played is saves percentage. The problem is this is a rate stat and may show that somebody who played only a handful of games was the best. I will cutoff the goalies involved in the comparison to those who played 25 or more games in the era. This prevents us from getting a list of goalies who saved the only shot they faced. It will still rank some goalies who did not play many games among the top. That is an interesting thing because it helps to show how well some goalies played in limited playing time and also shows how well the best goalies who had a significant number of games played performed.
Here are the top 20 goalies by saves percentage since 2005:
My first observation from this list is that our two leaders have a limited number of games played. Cory Schneider appeared in 68 games and Tuukka Rask in 102. It is unlikely if they played as many games as the third and fourth place finishers Tim Thomas (374 GP) and Tomas Vokoun (401 GP) that they would have maintained as high a saves percentage. Nevertheless they are clearly some of the best young goalies in the game and could become future stars.
Saves percentages have been slowly creeping upward in this era. Thus we tend not to have as many older goalies on this list as younger ones. In fact every goalie on this list is currently active in the NHL This is in part because of the rising saves percentages with time and in part because of selection effects. If a goalie posts a season with a poor saves percentage he is less likely to appear on this list and also less likely to remain active in the NHL.
The wins leader in the era Miikka Kirprusoff ranks 20th by saves percentage. This shows that while he may have been the goalie who played the most games in the era, it is hard to argue that he was the bestgoalie in the era.
Sorting goalies by saves percentage in the most recent era gives us a ranking of modern goalies. Because of rising saves percentages with time we tend to lose the goalies who played in the early part of our seven year period.
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