by PuckStopsHere on 09/12/11 at 03:37 PM ET
Yesterday I listed the top 20 careers by goaltending point shares. This is a system developed by Justin Kubatko at hockey-reference.com. I argue that the goaltender point shares are somewhat flawed because of the way defensive point shares are given out. Each team’s marginal goals against is calculated. This is a theoretical construct that represents the number of goals prevented by the team above that of a replacement level defence. This is shared to each player in different amounts depending upon the player’s position. Goaltenders get the largest share. They get this share regardless of if it is a goaltending effort or a defensive effort preventing goals. As a result, goaltender point shares track very closely with games played for goalies.
The two key examples I gave are Sean Burke who places 13th in goalie point shares and 12th in goaltender games played. I argue this is too high. Burke was a good goalie who played a long time, but he was never a truly top goalie. This system overrates him. Dominik Hasek was probably the best goalie in NHL history. He is 20th in career games played because he didn’t start his career at a young age due to his being stuck in communist Czechoslovakia. He ranks 9th in goalie point shares. I argue this is not high enough.
In the comments Sven22 takes the other side of the argument:
Take your Hasek example. I think he’s the best goalie to come along in at least the last several decades, and maybe the best goalie of all time.
But while I do think ninth place is a little low, I don’t think it’s an unreasonable approximation for this sort of list. Hasek is 20th all time in games played. He is 11th all-time in wins. His ranking on this list suggests that his cumulative total of “points won” based individual play exceeds what one would expect from his raw win total, and is exceptionally high for a goalie with as few games played. Consider that many of the players in Hasek’s neighborhood on this list required 100+ games more than Hasek to “win” a similar amount of points for their respective teams as he did.
The fact that Hasek is ninth on this list, even though most would agree that he’s much better than the ninth-best goalie of all time, does not prove the system failed. Bottom line, just like with wins and shutouts, Hasek didn’t play enough NHL games to acquire more point shares over the course of his career.
I set out to argue that point and realized I would have to look at individual seasons to do it properly. So I thought it was best to list the top individual seasons. Here they are:
Goalie Pt Shrs
So here is the list of top goalie seasons. There are several things that jump out at me when i look at this list. The one most on topic is how important games played are to rank highly on this list. The lowest games played total is 62 and that is tied between Ken Dryden and Pete Peeters. Both played before individual shots were recorded and they played on very good defensive teams. They faced fewer shots than would have been assumed in the calculation and are thus overrated here. In order to make it to this list with a lower games played total (is 62 really a low total?) you must have the number of shots you faced significantly over-estimated.
Missing from this list is Tim Thomas who had a great season in 2010/11. He set an NHL record for the highest saves percentage since they have started recording these things. He only played 57 games, which would be the lowest total on this list. Thomas places 21st and just barely misses out. However he is not the highest ranked goalie from the 2010/11 season. Cam Ward is 13th. He played 74 games. He wasn’t even nominated for the Vezina Trophy in the NHL. I will write a future post to discuss this situation. It is a clear sign that games played trumps playing well.
Roberto Luongo is listed as having had the top goalie season of all time. He did this in 2003/04. This was a year where he finished a distant third in the Vezina voting. I thought this was a mistake by the voters to rank him so low, but it is quite the claim to say he had the best season ever. I will look at this also in a future post. Luongo ranks three times on this list. The only other goalie to do that is Dominik Hasek and Luongo’s rankings are higher. If we are to believe this list, Luongo may be the best goalie of all time. Does anyone believe that?
Dominik Hasek’s back to back Hart Trophy seasons are 3rd and 9th on this list. I would argue this is low and too much credit has been given to his defence. That is part of the reason for his lower career ranking. I think his career ranking also needs a post in the future.
This list of best seasons by goaltender point shares is not what one would have expected for several reasons. The biggest of these reasons will get their own posts in the future. For the most part playing a lot of games gets a goalie on these lists. That is different from being the best goalie in the league.
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