The season is still young, and anything can still happen. No team is truly out of the playoffs yet. Well… maybe the Arizona Coyotes, and even then a magic run could technically save their season. With all this in mind I have decided to look at the 3 most overperforming goalies in the NHL this season. Now again, none of this is permanent, and things could easily change within a few games. If you missed it Mike took a look at the most over and underperforming teams in the NHL, and it is now time to look at the goalies side of things.
How I am doing this is I am taking stats off of Corsica.hockey and basing it off of a few categories. 5v5 Sv% vs 5v5 perfoExpected Sv%, and using that to look at the goalies’ GSAA (Goals Saved Above Average) rating for this year and the past 2 years. We will also be looking at surrounding team play to help us try to figure out what may be driving the numbers. The key here is GSAA, because no matter how good or bad the team, it should account for the GSAA. For example your expected Sv% is going to be lower if your team gives up a high amount of High Danger shots. However; if you still don’t save the percent you are still expected to, your GSAA will be poor. Over the past 2 years for goalies with at least 700 minutes TOI, there have been 60 goalies each year that fit that category. As expected, 30 have a + GSAA, and 30 have a – GSAA each year. The baseline criteria is goalies who have at least 400 minutes played this year. This is to get rid of the wild outliers that have only played say 4-5 games and are practically still unpredictable.
3. Jimmy Howard
Jimmy Howard is my 3rd biggest over performer this year, and I honestly do not even think he is overperforming that much. Howard sits 11th in GSAA at 2.59. He has a .931 5v5 save percentage, and is expected to only have a .922. What is most surprising about Howard is where he is excelling and struggling. Howard ranks 23rd/28 goalies in Low Danger Sv%, but he ranks 5th in Medium Danger Sv%, and 17th in Low Danger Sv%. This means he is allowing way more low danger chances than expected, but saving more medium danger ones than expected. His past GSAA are interesting, last season he has a -1.08, and the season prior a 1.69. To me that more suggests that he just had an off season last year, but looking back one year further he had a -2.48. This all points to him being a streaky goalie as of late, but he is still having a nice start to the year, and is a big reason Detroit is still in the mix for a playoff spot. Expect him to regress a bit, but don’t expect him to fall of the earth anytime soon.
2. Pekka Rinne
Alright, alright, before you get mad at me just hear me out okay? I know what some of you are going to say. “How can a goalie who just went to the Stanley Cup Finals be OVER-performing on the average team this year?” Well, there are a few answers to that. One is that Rinne is playing behind one of the best defence cores in the league, and in all truthfulness does not have to be great. The other thing that is usually forgotten is that Nashville just got into playoffs last year. They were the 8th seed and didn’t clinch until their final couple games. Anyways, Rinne’s GSAA this year is 4.63. That is very good, and something the Predators can be thankful for. However, looking at his past seasons I am not too sure this will continue. Last season Rinne had a -1.09 GSAA making him just below average, and the year prior he had a -11.45 GSAA. Yes, you read that correctly. Rinne had a terrible season just 2 years ago. This season he is the only goalie with 400TOI yet to let in a Low Danger scoring chance. That is impressive in itself but is also going to go down. He still ranks 22nd/28 in High Danger Sv% however. One of the reasons for his .936 Sv% can be attributed to the Nashville team, and the quality of shots they give up. Nashville gives up the 2nd least HD CA. only behind the Ottawa Senators.
Above is a WOWY shot map from HockeyViz.com. This is showing that Nashville rarely gives up shots from the middle of the slot, but is giving up quite a few from right beside the net. This does somewhat help to explain Rinne’s high low danger stops, because Nashville just isn’t giving *too* many away. The high danger chances are also coming largely from right in front of the net. Making it hard for Rinne to stop some of them. Overall, expect Rinne’s play to decrease, but maybe not as bad as past years. It will still be an interesting battle for the crease between him and the young talent Juuse Saros. Rinne is going to have to keep this kind of play up with the youngster nipping at his heels for the starting job.
Markstrom has easily been the biggest over performer of the young season. He is a big part of the Canucks’ success this year. At time of writing this the 27-year-old has a 3.72 GSAA. That really doesn’t seem all that huge to be #1 and it puts him at 9/28 in GSAA. Now the reason I have him so high is that most the guys ahead of him are supposed to be great. Guys like Quick, Schneider and Bobrovsky are all overperforming, but it really isn’t that surprising. With Markstrom however it is surprising. He has a .939 Sv%, even though it is only expected to be a .925. He has been lights-out in High Danger Sv% ranking 1st out of 28. The Canucks rank 13th in High Danger CA. Meaning that Markstrom faces around average attempt of high danger chances. Expect his HD Sv% to fall from .877 where it sits now.
His biggest improvement has been off the past 2 years’ numbers. Last year he had a -1.35 GSAA, and a .769 HD Sv%. The year prior he had a -0.37 GSAA with a .801 HD Sv%. Now both of these years he was the backup to Ryan Miller. He only got to play 25 and 32 games in these years. Now that he has taken a starter role he seems to be succeeding. This is a little unusual as most successful starters have very good numbers as a backup as well. However, as a backup it can be tough putting up great numbers as usually you are playing the 2nd half of a back to back when your team is tired. Markstrom’s GSAA was not brutal the previous years either, just slightly below average. This in theory would make him a good backup if he is ranking 31st-35th in GSAA. Overall expect him to drop, but maybe not to what he use to be. A new coach and system seems to be working wonders for the Canucks and Markstrom. It may just allow him to have success all year.
Those are my 3 most overperforming goalies of 2017-2018 so far. Overperforming is not a bad thing, but expect all 3 of these guys to decrease at least a little bit. They may not be putting up the most ridiculous numbers, but compared to past performance and expectations they are certainly surprising. Who do you think has been the biggest overperformer thus far? Let me know here or on twitter! Also, tune in later this week when we look at the 3 most underperforming goalies in the NHL.