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What Do We Do With Goalies?

Hello everyone and welcome in for another article, this one is a standalone look at some goalie situations around the league and how to evaluate them going forward. First I want to take a second to invite you to join the Apples & Ginos Discord server where the impetus for this article came from. With that said, let’s dig into it:

Los Angeles: Jonathan Quick vs Cal Petersen

Let’s run the basic stats first: Both Quick and Petersen have started ten games this season, Quick sports a 2.85 GAA and a .903 SV%, while Petersen is clipping along with a 2.28 GAA and a .931 SV%. Petersen is seeing more rubber with 32 shots/60, while Quick is getting 30 shots/60. I like to look at even strength stats almost exclusively when it comes to comparing goalies, especially on the same team. Penalty kill and power play goalie play inherently have small sample sizes and if Petersen has started 7 of 10 games versus Colorado and Las Vegas while Quick has started 8 of 10 versus Anaheim and San Jose, we’re obviously going to see even more of a disparity in those special teams numbers. At even strength, the difference between Quick and Petersen is even more pronounced. Petersen’s SV% jumps to .946 while Quick drops to an .885. Natural Stat Trick keeps a stat called “GSAA” which is Goals Saved Above Average; essentially this stat compares the expected number of goals against (based on shot data) with the goalie’s actual number of goals against and returns the difference. Petersen is saving 0.92 goals above average per 60 minutes at even strength while Quick is allowing 0.95 extra goals above average per 60 minutes. Petersen is also performing much better in the high danger save percentage category with a .903 mark compared to Quick’s .774. HDSV% is considered to be a strong indicator of how many “difficult” saves a goalie makes, and therefore at a position where ten extra saves out of a thousand changes perception of a player drastically these are the types of saves that good and great goalies should be making more of (on average). Considering all this data it’s clear that while Quick has improved some of late, Petersen is crushing him at every turn. Unfortunately, it’s less clear that this play will result in more opportunities and therefore more fantasy viability for Petersen. I do think it’s reasonable to suggest that Quick’s subpar play will eventually result in less starts for him, but until we see real evidence of a trend there this looks like a 50/50 timeshare.

Verdict: Petersen a strong stream candidate for now or stash in deeper leagues; watch for the changing of the guard

Nashville: Juuse Saros vs Pekka Rinne

Nashville has been crying for competent goaltending play all season it seems; Juuse Saros started off the year hot and now looks like a subpar backup, while Pekka Rinne had a nice stretch and then coughed up five goals to the hapless Red Wings on Thursday. Rinne has a .911 SV% on the season while Saros sits at an ugly .882. At even strength the difference is less pronounced, where Rinne is at .926 and Saros sports a serviceable .916. Rinne has a 0.26 GSAA/60, while Saros clocks in with a -0.01 mark. Saros has seen tougher work with 2.25 xG/60 to Rinne’s 1.83, but he still has a pretty horrifying .774 HDSV% while Rinne’s is much more respectable at .893. Over the last three weeks that difference has been steadily growing wider as Saros has not played at an NHL-capable level and Rinne averages out to a serviceable 1B type. It’s hard to imagine that Saros will stay unable to perform, especially with the Predators providing league average xGF numbers; while Nashville isn’t the defensive powerhouse they once were they are certainly not the sixth-worst defensive team in the league, which is where they currently sit. Nashville will continue to go with whichever goalie is producing at the moment, and while at this point I would give Rinne a solid chance to start 60% of the Preds’ games the rest of the way, I wouldn’t be shocked if Saros was able to figure out a few things and play himself back into a more even timeshare.

Verdict: Rinne is streamable, Saros is still worth keeping on the watch list but is certainly not rosterable

Florida: Sergei Bobrovsky vs Chris Driedger

I fully expected to come out of this analysis recommending Driedger to you as a buy and hold. But the data from the last three weeks has a different story to tell. Florida’s team success has disguised the fact that Bobrovsky has started to turn things around in his last five starts. Over those five starts versus Driedger’s six in the same time period, Bob is beating Driedger in even strength SV% (.929 to .913), GSAA/60 (0.23 to -0.26), and HDSV% (.828 to .710). Bobrovsky has always been a streaky goaltender, and it wouldn’t shock me to see him go on a tear here and re-establish himself as a very useful fantasy option. Bobrovsky’s monstrous contract carries weight with me; they invested in goaltending coaching in the offseason and clearly want Bobrovsky to be the #1 workhorse they thought they were getting when they signed him to that deal. I’m in on a mini-resurgence for Bobrovsky given how well Florida is currently playing.

Verdict: Bobrovsky is a buy/hold for me; Driedger is a sell/stream/drop candidate

Columbus: Joonas Korpisalo vs Elvis Merzlikins

I was a Merzlikins proponent in the offseason; I’ve never thought Korpisalo was more than a 1B at best and thought Merzlikins displayed at the very least real potential to be a high end starter in the league. I think popular perception is that both Korpisalo and Merzlikins have struggled mightily this season, but that’s only half true: Korpisalo has an .890 SV% while Merzlikins still has a .917 (admittedly, in a smaller sample size of only nine games). While Columbus hasn’t been as defensively sound this season as in years past, they still rank 11th in the league in xGA/60 on the year, so Columbus goalies are still worth targeting. An odd statistical nuance to add to this conversation is that Merzlikins has seen significantly better defense in front of him than Korpisalo; he’s got just a 1.80 expected goals against/60 mark at even strength compared to Korpisalo’s 2.51. That’s nearly a 40% worse defense for Korpisalo! Merzlikins does have a very concerning .703 HDSV% mark, but overall has a positive GSAA/60 at 0.19. In his last three games before being injured those numbers rose to .750 and 0.83, while Korpisalo has been a trainwreck as everyone knows (-1.36 even strength GSAA/60 and 0.700 HDSV% over his last eight games). Korpisalo is an obvious drop right now, but it’s much harder to make a recommendation on Merzlikins. Given that the defensive situation is generally positive, I still think there’s significant potential with Merzlikins.

Verdict: Korpisalo is a drop until further notice; Merzlikins is worth stashing with his upside

That’s all for this one folks! Make sure you follow Apples & Ginos on Twitter or join the Apples & Ginos Discord server for more content and to ask any fantasy hockey questions you may have.

Thanks for reading, you are appreciated!

Nate

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Published by Apples & Ginos

Apples & Ginos Fantasy Hockey Advice

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