Urban Legend

A recent Pete Peeters interview left me scratching my head a little and wondering about save percentage.

In the interview (I don’t remember the source at this point, the quote is lifted from something called “Fantasy Hockey Breaking News”-google doesn’t care where it gets what I need it just gets it. Sweet, reliable google) Peeters said the following:

“You see how many shots that guy faced (1,910 in 62 games)? And his save percentage (.906)? I thought he played really well, considering the team he played on. You have to be tough mentally when you’re not winning that many games and putting in those kind of performances.”

I like the quote because he throws everyone on the team under the bus aside from his guy (will Pete be back? Why would Mr and Mr Peeters call him Pete, anyway? Does he still farm? Remember that ridiculous streak he had with Philly?) and defends his turf in a summer where jobs are going to be lost. Never let it be said that he stood in the middle of the road.

So, what do we have in Dubnyk? How horrible were they? Is that really a lot of shots?

Dubnyk faced 1910 shots in about 60 hours of hockey, which works out to 31.5 per game. That does seem high. Let’s compare that number to Leland Irving of the Quad City Flames. He’s a highly regard prospect and he played for a much better team (-4 in overall GF/GA, compared to Springfield’s -70). Irving faced 25.26 shots per 60 minutes which is certainly less than Dubnyk’s number.

But isn’t SP supposed to be about the goalie? I know there might be more penalty killing situations, but how much of a difference does it really make? Dubnyk’s SP was about equal to JDD’s, to Saboruin’s and well clear of Glenn Fisher this season. If he’s better, shouldn’t the SP be much better?

So, what are the arguments for cutting the goalie some SP slack if he plays on an awful team? Is this even reasonable? Or is this another Oilers urban legend?

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47 Responses to "Urban Legend"

  1. quain says:

    Dwayne the Main Brain faced 32.58 SA/60 with a .915 SV%, so I don’t know why we’re supposed to cut Dubnyk any slack.

    This is a good situation for him, he’s practicing being on a really terrible puck possession team. Some teams maintain the same system in the AHL and NHL… we maintain mediocrity for our goaltenders!

  2. Black Dog says:

    Quality of shots?

    Dennis – we need you to do another project next season – Springfield ;)

    Seriously though I’m of the mind that if the team or certain members of the team in front of you are terrible then the quality of shots are going to be outrageous. This leads me to think that DD’s performance might actually be pretty reasonable. If the guys in front of you are clueless you’re going to be facing breakaways, odd man rushes, tapins by uncovered guys etc etc

    I have nothing to back this up, of course. ;)

  3. bookie says:

    We need some kind of scoring chance measure factored in.

  4. knighttown says:

    We need some kind of scoring chance measure factored in.

    Yep Bookie, the next evolution in goaltender metrics is % of scoring chances stopped. We just need 29 more Dennis’.

  5. Jonathan Willis says:

    Looking at Desjardin’s expected vs. actual save percentage, I think it’s fair to say that it could be either way.

    Expected percentage runs between .885 and .920; assuming that PP/SH SV% cancel each other out (a somewhat precarious assumption, but I’m unsure what else to do) and that AHL/NHL expected SV% rates are close (a safer assumption) than Dubnyk’s EV is probably above where we’d expect it to be based on the quality of his team (since we’d guess Springfield to be near the bottom of the scale).

    Short form: I expect that Dubnyk’s SV% is rather good considering his team, but it’s a guess.

  6. oilerdago says:

    I’m not convinced we know enough about DD to make a judgement one way or the other at this point.

    In his defense, he faced an above average total – not unlike Roli this season, but save % is not enough.

    Why? He also had a very young defense in front of him. Just watching Chorney in the last 2 games of the season, it’s obvious his -29 was earned with the defensive mistakes he made. That’s going to make it tough on any goaltender.

    But I’m with Bookie (quality scoring chances). If they kept this in the AHL that would help give more context to his numbers.

    It would not surprise me if DD has more upside than JDD and the #’s (SO, Save %) back up that he had a better season. But there’s a ways to go here.

  7. rickibear says:

    Give me a ESPN soccer gamecast sheet showing every shot and the context it occured. Five years of that and you can establish a locational expected SV% shot chart. Will create an expected SV% for the game a goalie plays.

    Otherwise. HUH?

  8. jon k says:

    I think it’s hard to cipher how important the numbers are without a little context, which I think the Desjardin metric provides very nicely.

    What we do know is that Springfield took a lot of penalties (423) while only getting a middling numbers (400). The team was bad on the PP (0.155) and was atrocious on the PK (0.813).

    However, there’s two factors at work on the PK. We know that traditionally SV% on the PK is going to be lower than at EV. So if the team took lots of penalties and didn’t do well on the PK, that might cut Dubnyk some slack, as that would naturally drag down his SV%.

    On the other hand, we know that Dubnyk’s main attributes as a goalie are lots of size and not lots of agility, and his faults have always been lateral movement and ability to recover. These are both going to be important on the PK where teams will traditionally try to move the puck against a slow goalie.

    Given the penalty number, the shot count, and our knowledge that the team was not very good, we can probably say that .906 is not a bad number.

    It’s good, but not great either though. I think that phrase has captured Dubnyk’s career to date. The only time Dubnyk has put up a SV% better than 0.912 in his entire career was when he played in the ECHL at 0.921. Traditionally goalies who transition to NHL careers post numbers in the AHL above 0.925 on a consistent basis.

    It doesn’t seem like Dubnyk is projecting to be a starter quality NHLer.

    As a sidenote, it’s interesting that Roloson’s expected save percentage over the last two seasons is 0.909, while his actual save percentage is 0.912.

    This matches with most of what we know about the Oilers, namely that they play a passive, collapsing defensive style that keeps most of the shots to the outside. However it also points out that Dwayne’s only been marginally above-average at keeping the goals out.

  9. Vic Ferrari says:

    I think it is nonsense, LT. Peeters could have argued that the shooters were just making their shots this year, or that the PK was terrible. That probably isn’t true either, but at least it would have been a defensible argument.

    And a scoring chance count would not have mattered. The ratio of scoring chances to shots-directed at net is flat for the Oilers at EV. .50 for Visnovsky at the low end and .59 for Smid on the high end (i.e. when Smid was on the ice the ratio of scoring-chances-for to shots directed at net was the best? And almost everyone else around .54. And drawing closer and closer as the season wore on.

    So as far as repeatability from one half of the season to the next is about .8 for corsi ratio, .7 for scoring chance ratio, and .4 for shots ratio, everything else is negligible. And predicting future goal ratios for the players at about .7 for corsi, .6 for scoring chances and .35 for shots ratio. Or thereabouts, I just did a quick run of the numbers by grabbing stuff from Scott’s site.

    In short, it takes a while but by the end of the season scoring chance +/- numbers are very nearly corsi (.9 correlation for 27 skaters, .94 correlation for the top 15 skaters by icetime, the regulars). And they weren’t finished pulling together yet.

    All this shot quality stuff floating around lately strikes me as spectacularly wrong on several levels. It would take a lot of work to show the inefficacy in a meaningful way, perhaps when time permits I’ll take a run. As a starting point, the expected EVsave% should go down about .004 or so in the second periods (players benches on forward side, long change for D). The only guy whose metrics have any chance of being close are the guy with the long name who posted them at Ryder’s site for two seasons. But his impact shown is smaller than everyone else’s by a bunch, and by the time you remove local scoring bias’ and remove the special teams stuff, there can’t possibly be much left over.

    As I say, I haven’t done the work to show it, but I would bet real money on that being the case.

    By the by, I’ve lapsed in my Oilogosphere reading lately, has anyone taken a run at Dennis’ scoring chance data yet? Even those with the squarest of heads and coldest of hearts couldn’t have expected that.

  10. Mustafa Hirji says:

    An initial shot and a rebound count the same, but a rebound is much more difficult. If your team can’t clear rebounds, that’s going to unfairly hurt your save percentage.

    Unfortunately, we don’t know anything about initial shot v. rebound breakdowns.

    - Mustafa Hirji

  11. bookie says:

    I think we should evaluate goalies the same way that many people evaluate forwards – based upon their number of youtube hits!

  12. Oilman says:

    I’d guess that it’s more difficult to post a save percentage above .900 facing 20 shots per game as opposed to 30. Odds are the best scoring chances happen in either case and the other 10 shots are SV% padders. What was craig andersons SV% this year in games where he faced 40+ shots compared to those where he faced under 30?

  13. godot10 says:

    I think Peeters was probably just making the point that Dubnyk didn’t quit even though it had to be a demoralizing season. He exhibited a degree of mental toughness. He maintained a decent save percentage. Does mental toughness mean that he has NHL-level ability? No. But it is a postive character attribute that is desirable in a player.

    Because stats are important, it doesn’t mean that intangibles are unimportant.

  14. geowal says:

    I read these comments in the EJ and thought them outright contradictory. To me,as Oilman suggested, facing a particularly high amount of shots should improve his save %, not hurt it, or at the very least unaffect it. The high shots may make his GAA, wins, and shutout numbers look like crap, but not save %.

    Incidentally, if he really was the beacon of light on a crappy team (which I’m not sure is the case), then good for him, I suppose that counts for something.

  15. geowal says:

    So, what are the arguments for cutting the goalie some SP slack if he plays on an awful team? Is this even reasonable? Or is this another Oilers urban legend?

    Well if you believe Dubnyk to be the next Roberto Luongo than he’s a great player on a bad team.

    The difference? Luongo’s Panthers teams always finished somewhere above the bottom of the pack, whereas Springfield was just outright bad. Worse teammates? Or worse (relative) goalie? My money is on the latter, or some of both.

  16. bookie says:

    I read these comments in the EJ and thought them outright contradictory. To me,as Oilman suggested, facing a particularly high amount of shots should improve his save %, not hurt it, or at the very least unaffect it. The high shots may make his GAA, wins, and shutout numbers look like crap, but not save %.

    Well, the whole purpose of save percentage is to address the ‘frequency issue’ and as such more or less shots should not impact save percentage. Your theory is that the more shots a team gets, the lower the quality of those shots. There is some logic to this because clearly a team that ‘shoots from anywhere’ is going to get more shots than a team that ‘waits for the best scoring chance’ BUT generally speaking the AHL goalies faced the same competition – so focusing on the opposition is irrelevant.

    Is a team that allows a lot of shots worse than teams that limit the number of shots. While theoretically that may not be the case, in practice I would suggest that it is the case.

    Therfor goalies who face a lot of shots are likely on a team with poorer defence, ergo they likely also face more scoring chances, with that there save percentage could/should be lower than a goalie on a team that is good defensivly.

    Love is Blind, Stevie Wonder is Blind, God is Love, Stevie Wonder is thus GOd!

  17. PunjabiOil says:

    Any idea of what to make from Tambellini’s quote from today’s journal:

    Q: Are you going to sign any free agents from other teams this summer? I know you went hard for Marian Hossa last year, but he went to Detroit. Or is your situation unlike the Montreal Canadiens, who have lots of salary cap room and lots of unrestricted free agents that they might let go?

    A: I don’t know what we’re going to do. We have a lot of players under contract on our own team.

    http://www.edmontonjournal.com/sports/Tambellini+rush+into+selecting+coach/1544527/story.html.

  18. bookie says:

    I don’t know what we’re going to do. We have a lot of players under contract on our own team.

    At the Press conference Tambi suggested a number of times in subtle language that he felt that the players that they had were terribly mismanaged. He is not going to make major changes. 3 or 4 tweaks.

    Also, he simply isnt going to tell the press anything, that may be all that statement means.

  19. Asiaoil says:

    Look I’ve been a DD backer for ages – but sooner or later you have to deliver and he simply hasn’t. As others have said – he’s been decent but not great – probably projecting as a 2nd tier starter at best unless he’s a late blooming freak.

    I’ve never been one to support getting too sophisticated in goalie evaluations. You can either stop a high percentage of pucks or you can’t – pretty simple – and good goalies do it in front of good teams or bad with only a relatively minor slide on a bad squad. ES SP is even better – but given enough of a record – plain old vanilla SP does just fine.

    Gee Pete Peeters is out to lunch again….what a surprise :(

  20. P-Ow says:

    For the statheads out there:

    Is there any legitimacy to the idea that the more shots a goalie has to face, the more “tired” (for lack of a better word) he’ll be and so the lower his save percentage will get? I don’t know how well this would apply in the NHL, but if Dubnyk is being run out 3 straight games on a weekend series and facing 100 shots over that span, well, I would be pretty tired by the third period of that third game. It may not mean much, which is why I ask the question.

  21. uni says:

    Look I’ve been a DD backer for ages – but sooner or later you have to deliver and he simply hasn’t. As others have said – he’s been decent but not great – probably projecting as a 2nd tier starter at best unless he’s a late blooming freak
    .

    That’s why I love Timmy Thomas so much. That man is the exception that proves the rule…would love for him to be an Oiler; although I’m sure they’d find a way to ruin him.

  22. Alice says:

    Okay, without trying to boil the oceans on the figures, because you’re going to get on 3 sides of the square root of a hairs-breadth in the end anyhow….

    Here’s a litmus-test thought on SP, whether to give a guy some slack based on what’s in front of him.

    1. If your team’s winning, nobody gives a shit about your SP, except maybe your agent, so we’re talking about losing squads only here. Luckily, we have some of those!

    2. If everybody sucks it doesn’t give us much – you’ll face way more shots, probably from everywhere.

    3. But, if you lose because your forwards relatively suck, but your D is half-decent, [familiar?] you’re losing because you’re not getting enough run support and also you probably don’t have possession often enough. But you’re not giving the back-door play and leaving jokers alone in the slot either, so I’d be inclined to think your SP might look half-decent to mildly inflated. This jives with Roli’s year, esp if you manage to yank pk out of the picture.

    4. And the corollary is likely true as well – if you’re losing but the team seems to skew towards decent forwards and a dubious blueline I expect your SP takes a hit, as you’re probably facing more stuff down inside, rebounds not cleared, assignments not picked up. Oh yeah, breakaways too.

    So, for all it means in the end, and it probably ain’t much – you might color SP with the relative strength of your forward vs. your defensive corps. [Or in Calgary, your defensive corpse.]

  23. Schitzo says:

    probably projecting as a 2nd tier starter at best unless he’s a late blooming freak.Given how gangly he is, I wouldn’t be shocked if he turns out to be a late bloomer. I mean, he’s only what, 22? He probably only quit growing in the last 24 months.

  24. Schitzo says:

    Oh, and how have we gone this far without drawing the obvious Pouliot analogy?

    What is with this org and its hard-on for players who “hang in there” on awful teams?

  25. godot10 says:

    //That’s why I love Timmy Thomas so much. That man is the exception that proves the rule…would love for him to be an Oiler; although I’m sure they’d find a way to ruin him.//

    Tim Thomas was Oiler property for a few month about 10 years ago.

    I think they acquired him to finish out an AHL season, when they were short of goaltenders. He was a free agent at the end of the season, which was when he left for Europe.

  26. godot10 says:

    //Any idea of what to make from Tambellini’s quote from today’s journal:
    Q: Are you going to sign any free agents from other teams this summer? I know you went hard for Marian Hossa last year, but he went to Detroit. Or is your situation unlike the Montreal Canadiens, who have lots of salary cap room and lots of unrestricted free agents that they might let go?
    A: I don’t know what we’re going to do. We have a lot of players under contract on our own team.//

    He sounds like he is being realistic. My translation of his answer! -) “Most of the players are under contract. It is a b#$@! to make trades with the new CBA. The cap is probably coming down in a year. Damn Lowe left me with my hands tied behind my back, and he keeps telling me I should sign Jagr”

    There is not really a whole lot he can do, except get the coach right.

  27. R O says:

    @Alice:

    Are you suggesting the Flames’ D was responsible for Kipper’s bad SV%? Because, as a Flames fan, while I freely admit that the D this year was rather porous, nobody is more responsible for Kipper’s bad year than Kipper.

    But we still made the playoffs ;-)

    Go Hawks!

  28. Alice says:

    R O,
    Nope,
    Not responsible. Just a means of adding some context/colour to the raw stat.

    We create these stats to take some of the guesswork out of evaluation, then we knock ourselves out trying to explain away the stats with all this qualitative observation. Which is where we were in the first place. So instead of worrying so damn much about trying to explain away the stat, we should simply accept that they’re imperfect, but useful, another data point, something that might be useful trending North to South, or comp’d closely – eg. guys platooning on the same team. Other than that, is the .915 guy beter than the .905 guy? worse that the .925 guy? At the .01 level on different teams I think there’s far too many other variables to treat that as a significant variation.

  29. Alice says:

    And my D’s vs F’s idea is just one possible way to collapse some of those other variables, present them as a whole having perhaps a +ive or -ive impact on the number.

    At the end of the day, there’s only ‘Really Good’ goalies, “Good” goalies, and “Not-so-Good-as-we-thought-when-we-signed-him” goalies. I’m not aware of other categories.

  30. Icecastles says:

    Mustafa Hirji said…
    An initial shot and a rebound count the same, but a rebound is much more difficult. If your team can’t clear rebounds, that’s going to unfairly hurt your save percentage
    .

    Very true. Also, if as a goalie you are having two cover the odds of two or three shooters with lots of space, you are going to have a tougher time making the save because you have less idea where the initial shot is going to come from.

    Whereas if your defenders are cutting off the passing lanes, you can more effectively prepare for the shot, knowing at least which player is likely to shoot it. Good example – the tying goal at 18:30 in the Jersey game a couple nights ago. Brodeur let it in (admittedly, one he perhaps should have had) because he had to cover one shooter, then get a long ways across the crease to stop a one-timer from a wide open player who had the space to get in a perfect shot.

    If your D-men aren’t helping you out, you are going to be facing WAY tougher shots than you are against a team that doesn’t have the time and space to set up. Like Garon said after those two 30+ save performances at the start of the season (paraphrasing), “When you are facing long shots from the outside all night, you can easily stop 60 in a night and not be tired. It’s a credit to the defense more than the goaltending. They made my job easy.”

  31. Statman says:

    For goalie analysis, check out the Contrarian Goaltender @ http://brodeurisafraud.blogspot.com. A recent post discusses the big difference between SV% facing high vs. low shots; yet another adjustment to consider when comparing goalies.

  32. Quinn says:

    //Mustafa Hirji said…
    An initial shot and a rebound count the same, but a rebound is much more difficult. If your team can’t clear rebounds, that’s going to unfairly hurt your save percentage.//

    //Icecastles said …
    If your D-men aren’t helping you out, you are going to be facing WAY tougher shots than you are against a team that doesn’t have the time and space to set up.//

    Both good points, but I think that they also prove Peeters point in the quote by LT. If DD was playing on a porous team (-70), obviously the D was not providing the type of support that would be required to have good numbers. Sort of the opposite of the problem Minnesota’s goaltenders have.

    As far as SV% goes, I really think it is a useful stat, especially when you are looking at shots totalling in the thousands. Sure, there will be some higher quality chances than others, but I would think that generally in a stat sample that large you have the good, the bad and the quality averaging each other out (Thank you for pointing out the numbers on that VF). I would view SV% to be a similar stat to baseball’s batting numbers (is that what it is called?) when it comes right down to it.

  33. LMHF#1 says:

    Depends on a couple things for me:

    Is the goalie generating a bunch of shots himself through either bad position or rebound control?

    and

    Where are these shots coming from?

    If the answer to those is no and close/open, then Dubnyk is doing well. If the answers are yes and the outside + weak rebounds, Dubnyk stinks.

    I do think we need to turf Peeters though. Badly. I’ve never liked his style, haven’t appreciated his comments to the media and his supposed handling of goalies, or his player evaluation skills (saw him marking at TC a couple years, what he was writing down was mind-boggling).

  34. Quinn says:

    I do think we need to turf Peeters though.I hope that David Marcoux is available after the season. He is a goalie coach I admire quite a bit.

  35. R O says:

    I hope that David Marcoux is available after the season. He is a goalie coach I admire quite a bit.

    Get your dirty Oiler hands off our property.

    :)

  36. Quinn says:

    Get your dirty Oiler hands off our property.

    :) Anything I can suggest to take the Flames down a notch I will do! ;)

  37. ian says:

    How would save percentages differ if you measured
    Games won
    Games lost
    In one instance the team played better for the goalie [maybe]
    In the other the team was not so good [maybe]

  38. Doogie2K says:

    Is there any legitimacy to the idea that the more shots a goalie has to face, the more “tired” (for lack of a better word) he’ll be and so the lower his save percentage will get?

    I’m not a stathead, but the physiology says yes, particularly for the three-game weekend series sort of scenario.

  39. Statman says:

    "As far as SV% goes, I really think it is a useful stat, especially when you are looking at shots totalling in the thousands. Sure, there will be some higher quality chances than others, but I would think that generally in a stat sample that large you have the good, the bad and the quality averaging each other out"

    I used to think the same… but see Shot Quality as measured by Alan Ryder & others.

    An adjusted form of SV% is still by far the best indicator of goalie performance, IMO.

  40. Dennis says:

    Skitz: as soon as I read that quote, I knew there’d be a 78 comparison:)

  41. spOILer says:

    A little OT but did anyone get a chance to catch the Canada Czech game this afternoon? Lot of Oiler stories there. I did catch a bit on my lunch…

    Renney was in the Coach analyst seat for the intermissions. Didn’t do too bad a job, far better analyst than Tortorella. Czechs, of course, feature Jagr and Hemsky and Coach Ruzicka.

    Jagr apparently had the most ice time for the Czechs after leader Zidlicky, but their PP was stifled after a lot of opps. In the third Rosy Ruzicka was going to the 2nd unit over Hemmer and Jagr. From the few shifts I saw, Lombardi was doing a great job on Jagr, sticking with him stride for stride whenever he drove to the net, and was able to handle the big Czech’s strength.

    Hemmer looks like he is fully back in pass first mode from the little I saw.

    Hamhuis had a lovely open ice hit defending a Czech forward trying to split the D.

    4-0 Team Canada when I headed back to the grindhouse.

  42. Dennis says:

    I saw the first period and wanted to see if 68/83 were being played together. 83 started off with Plekance and someone else and 68 was playing with Klepis and Cajanek.

    Later on I tuned in for the last half of the third period and I saw 83 connect off a thinking man’s pass from 68: the alley oop.

  43. Chris says:

    The only thing I’d say that could be offered as an excuse would be to compare his EV SV% to his SH SV%, compare his minutes played short handed to the AHL average and then attempt to adjust for deviation from said average. I supose we could also make some sort of Desjardens Quality of Opposition and Quality of Teammates type comparison as well. Although we know his team was the suck, which probably resulted in more quality scoring chances than if he’d been playing on say the AHL equivalent of the New Jersey Devils.

  44. Ribs says:

    This has been a pretty interesting thread. I can’t say I’ve ever put much credit into minor league goalie stats but I’m wondering now if more defined stats would really help give a clearer picture.

  45. Doogie2K says:

    I should clarify yesterday’s comment, because I didn’t fully comprehend what I read the first time (I’d just finished my last exam): if a goalie gets sufficient rest, then number of shots per game is probably largely irrelevant (maybe there’s a cumulative, whole-season effect, like the repetitive strain injury, but I dunno if any deviation from the norm would be statistically significant). It’s really when he’s ridden on back-to-backs and especially three in a row that things get dicey, and where I can see shot number having an influence on fatigue and injury, and subsequently performance.

  46. uni says:

    Tim Thomas was Oiler property for a few month about 10 years ago.

    I think they acquired him to finish out an AHL season, when they were short of goaltenders. He was a free agent at the end of the season, which was when he left for Europe.

    An almost imperceptibly small part of me just died there =(.

    Also I wonder if Joseph would be available as a goalie coach? I mean I still don’t think he was as good as people thought he was in Toronto, but damn if he could make our goalies make standard saves look as spectacular as he routinely made his.

  47. dave says:

    As a goalie that played for a bad team, I wouldn’t cut any slack on the save % in-fact I think it might be easier to achieve when you have alot of shots. No doubt facing more rubber makes you better but there are a couple of keys missing. 1 when you play on a bad team there is’nt the same pressure to stop the game winning goal. So as a result you can go in pretty loose cause its gonna be a shooting gallery and no one will blame you. 2 you don’t know how to help the team win hockey games.

    That said Dubnyk was a leader in junior, saw him lots. He was a strong leader on average teams. The elevated shots could be good great for him if he still takes his fair load of responsibility.

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