by PuckStopsHere on 09/02/12 at 12:55 PM ET
I am looking at the era in NHL history that is likely ending with the upcoming lockout. This is the era from the 2004/05 lockout until the 2012 one. During this time the NHL operated on a CBA that was very different from the past by imposing a salary cap for teams. I have looked at the best players by several different statistics including goals, points and penalty minutes. Now I want to turn my attention to goaltenders.
Goaltender statistics are different from those of position players because the numbers that are accumulated as counting stats do not show individual play as well as goals, assists or points. The two most common counting stats for goalies are wins and shutouts. No goalie can win a game unless his team can score. No goalie will win on a regular basis if he plays behind a defence that allows a large number of high quality shots. Shutouts are even more removed from goaltender quality because they require a top defence in front of the goalie. Goalies who face 30 or 40 shots a night rarely get shotouts though they can get wins.
I think the best counting stat to evaluate goalies is wins. I also think it isn't a particularly good number to be taken on its own to decide how good a goalie is.
Here are the top 20 goalies since 2005 by their wins:
Largely this list shows which goalies had the opportunity to play the most in the time period. Miikka Kiprusoff, the leader, played almost 50 games more than any other goalie. Not only does he lead in wins, he also leads the time period in losses, both in regulation and overtime. Essentially this shows that Calgary never had a legitimate backup goalie during this time period.
This list could also be a list of goalies by games played. 18 of the 20 goalies on that list would be the same. The only additions would be Nikolai Khabibulin and Mathieu Garon and both struggled on poor teams in this time period. Taking their place would be Pekka Rinne and Jonathan Quick. Rinne didn't really make the NHL until 2008/09 (he played three games in two seasons before that). Quick also became an NHL regular in 2008/09, though he had played three games the year earlier. I think they both make a strong showing by making this list despite a limited amount of time in the NHL - although neither would be here if they played on bottom-feeding teams.
This list of the winningest goalies since 2005 largely shows the most active goalies in the time period. To be one of the most active goalies in the time period you must be a good player who stayed injury free and did not get stuck as a longterm backup goalie. It doesn't mean that you were the best goalie in the time period but you were quite solid. I would not use this list to claim (for example) Miikka Kiprusoff was the best goalie since the last lockout. It merely shows that he was the most active. Sure he was active because he was good, but that does not show he was the best goalie in the time period.
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