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Top Goalie So Far This Season

A couple weeks ago I picked Mike Smith of the Phoenix Coyotes as the top goalie in the league so far this season.  He has played a lot of games and played very well so far this season behind a team that has allowed a lot of shots.  Another goalie has played a little bit better in a very heavy role with his team in Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings.  I think he is current best goaltender so far this season.

There are some other goalies who are bigger names than either who have played well, but have played behind better defences and have not faced as many shots, who might be better candidates to maintain their current level of play the entire season.  They are Tim Thomas of Boston and Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers.  Brian Elliott of St Louis and Josh Harding of Minnesota have also posted some very good numbers, but neither have been clear cut starters so far this year.

Quick has posted a .936 saves percentage and a 1.97 GAA.  He has done this playing in 21 games.  He is currently fifth in shots faced in the league, with better numbers than any of those who rank above him.  Los Angeles has the fourth best goals against in the league so far this season despite having allowed the 16th most shots per game.  Quick is a big reason for these numbers.  He has been extremely valuable to the Kings this season. 

Quick was not expected to be an NHL star.  He was a third round draft pick in 2005.  He first played in the NHL in 2007/08 and became a regular in the next season.  He has been a solid starting goalie but has never has posted numbers anywhere near as good as he is so far this season.  He probably will regress as the season continues, but at age 25 he is becoming a legitimate star in the NHL.  At this point he is the Vezina Trophy leader.

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Comments

w2j2's avatar

It really is better that these idiots do not regonize the outstanding play of Jimmy Howard.

As a result, when teams play the Wings, they are not prepared to be stonewalled.

wink

Posted by w2j2 on 12/04/11 at 04:12 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

I have refrained from commenting on the chief’s latest cause for his homerism.  Jimmy Howard is a good goalie.  He has been one of the best (and arguably the best) of the next tier of goalies behind this group.  The season is still young enough that he could make his way up into this bunch or fall back a bit. 

The fact he was left off the All Star ballot tells you more about the process the ballot is made than it does about Howard’s play - of course he is better than several goalies on the ballot.  However anyone who claims Howard is the best goalie in the league - either overall or based on play this season alone - is blinded by their allegience to the Detroit Red Wings.  It is a joke meant to inflame people who read A2Y and are not Wings fans (which describes almost every post he has ever written).

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 12/04/11 at 04:26 PM ET

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Just can’t bring yourself to say Marc Andre Fleury can you? You f#!@kin’ hack.

Posted by Steve on 12/04/11 at 04:36 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Steve

As Fleury currently is 16th in the league in saves percentage, why should he even come up in this conversation?

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 12/04/11 at 04:49 PM ET

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Show’s how little you know about hockey. Stats don’t tell the entire story. How about Harding?  But by all means, keep writing stupid shit.

Posted by Steve on 12/04/11 at 05:05 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Against my better judgement, I will entertain the troll.  Kindly tell me why Fleury has been so much better so far this season than his stats would indicate that he should be considered a serious player in the Vezina race based on his play to dat this year.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 12/04/11 at 05:09 PM ET

IwoCPO's avatar

I have refrained from commenting on the chief’s latest cause for his homerism.  Jimmy Howard is a good goalie.  He has been one of the best (and arguably the best) of the next tier of goalies behind this group.  The season is still young enough that he could make his way up into this bunch or fall back a bit.

The fact he was left off the All Star ballot tells you more about the process the ballot is made than it does about Howard’s play - of course he is better than several goalies on the ballot.  However anyone who claims Howard is the best goalie in the league - either overall or based on play this season alone - is blinded by their allegience to the Detroit Red Wings.  It is a joke meant to inflame people who read A2Y and are not Wings fans (which describes almost every post he has ever written).

And once again, because you write for Paul and I have some sort of loyalty thing keeping me from blasting you absolutely and completely out of the water, I’ll say that you are out of your league if you intend to bait me into a blogging battle of wits.  There isn’t a single post of yours that I, or 19 others, couldn’t pick to pieces. We refrain, because the challenge just isn’t there.  Stay on your side of the sandbox little guy.

Posted by IwoCPO from Sunny San Diego, bitches on 12/04/11 at 05:20 PM ET

Keyser S.'s avatar

So howard isn’t in the first tier of goalies because chief is a homer?

Second tier goalie? Are you watching any hockey games this year?

He’s been the wings mvp this year. Second tier pfffttt…..

Posted by Keyser S. on 12/04/11 at 05:33 PM ET

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All right guys.

I don’t often defend PSH (and I still won’t defend his attitude), but if you actually read what he’s saying here, he thinks Howard is possibly the best-playing goalie right now not named Quick, Thomas, Lundqvist, Harding or Elliot, and he’s strongly implying that Harding,  Elliot and even Quick are candidates to fall off the pace.

I still think he’s underrating Howard, but statistically speaking, saying he’s arguably around the sixth-best goalie RIGHT NOW (with the potential to become a legitimate Vezina candidate later in the season) seems well within the “reasonable” range of opinions, even if some of us might not totally share it.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 12/04/11 at 05:48 PM ET

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@Sven22: Right on. I’d put Jimmy Howard in the top 4 myself, but putting him in the top 6th is definitely a conclusion which a reasonable jury could conceivably come to.

Posted by Elliot on 12/04/11 at 06:17 PM ET

Flashtastick56's avatar

Kindly tell me why Fleury has been so much better so far this season than his stats would indicate that he should be considered a serious player in the Vezina race based on his play to dat this year.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 12/04/11 at 02:09 PM ET

Because he’s won more games than anyone but Jimmy Howard?

Because he’s top 10 in GAA?

Because of the 15 players ahead of him in save %, 6 of them are “backup” goalies or have barely played 1/2 the amount of games Fleury has?

Those seem like reasonable…reasons.  No?

Posted by Flashtastick56 from Meriden, CT on 12/04/11 at 09:13 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Flashtastick

I would argue that you made a reasonable argument that Fleury may be better than 16th best in the league, but you made no argument that he is the best goalie in the NHL.

Because he’s won more games than anyone but Jimmy Howard?

So what?  Wins is a poor individual stat.

Because he’s top 10 in GAA?

GAA is pretty dependent upon the team in front of the goalie.  Being in the top 10 is hardly an argument somebody is number one in the league.  At best its evidence he is in the top 10

Because of the 15 players ahead of him in save %, 6 of them are “backup” goalies or have barely played 1/2 the amount of games Fleury has?

That leaves nine players ahead of him in saves percentage.  That is no argument he is number one either.

I think the most interesting thing here is that this Steve guy who first brought up Fleury seems to have disappeared when asked for hockey specifics.  He is long on insults and short on substance to back them up.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 12/04/11 at 09:31 PM ET

Flashtastick56's avatar

Where did I say he was the best in the league?

“I didn’t,” is the answer to that question.

You threw out the 16th in the league statistic and I responded to it with evidence that he really isn’t 16th in the league.  Top 10.  So…I answered your question as to why Fleury is better than his stats may show.  Especially at a quick glance, which I’m sure is what you did.

And how is it that GAA is dependent on the team in front of him but save % is not?  I know, by watching games, that the Penguins block a ton of shots in front of Fleury.  Wouldn’t both GAA and save % be affected by that kind of play?

Posted by Flashtastick56 from Meriden, CT on 12/04/11 at 11:31 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

And how is it that GAA is dependent on the team in front of him but save % is not?

Of course both GAA is dependent upon the team and so is saves percentage.  GAA is more dependent.  It depends on both the quality and quantity of shots a goalie faces.  Saves percentage is not dependent upon shot quantity.  It is only dependent upon shot quality.  That makes it a better number to judge the play of a goalie.  Pittsburgh does have a good defence, hence the shot quality is not as high for Fleury as for many other goalies in the league.  Hence saves percentage, if it is biased, will over-estimate Fleury.  He may not be as good as that number shows.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 12/04/11 at 11:44 PM ET

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How about the fact that Fleury played behind the equivalent of a AHL team for many games to start the season ? Second most man hours lost to injury in the league. Ever consider that? Your stats only basis is stupid.

Posted by Steve on 12/05/11 at 12:17 PM ET

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You do realize where Pittsburgh’s offense ranks, right? You do realize that they were a playoff team last year basically missing two of their top three centers every game, right?

Far from an AHL team.

Here’s another thing: by the end of the year, the best goalie will be around .930. An average starter (which I believe Fleury was, but now I’m starting to believe he’s improved in the last two years) will be around .915.

At 30 shots against per game, 3 games a week, that a difference of 1-1.5 goals per week.

No one watches enough hockey to actually tell the difference without heavy input from the numbers.

Posted by Ralph on 12/05/11 at 02:32 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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