Putting Goalies on the Spot

Last week I dug into the offensive end of NHL shootouts, so now we need to give the goaltenders their due. As we consider goaltender success during the shootout, a significant aspect to contend with is the quantity of Missed Shots (roughly one out of eight shootout attempts misses the net entirely). Within the table below, I'm including them in a "Stop Pct.", since by definition, Missed Shots aren't included in a goaltender's regular save percentage. When it comes to the shootout, however, I'm inclined to give the netminder some credit for forcing the shooter into an untenable option. So let's get to the results, including the 2005-06 season, and this year up through the games of February 4:

Top 10 SO Goalies by Stop Pct.
Goaltender SO Attempts SO Goals Saves Missed Stop Pct.
Marc Denis, TBL 32 5 24 3 .844
Kari Lehtonen, ATL 39 7 28 4 .821
Henrik Lundqvist, NYR 63 12 40 11 .810
Rick DiPietro, NYI 67 16 48 3 .761
Tim Thomas, BOS 54 13 39 2 .759
Pascal LeClaire, CBJ 33 8 20 5 .758
Manny Fernandez, MIN 51 13 29 9 .745
Ryan Miller, BUF 43 11 25 7 .744
Marty Turco, DAL 55 15 29 11 .727
Mathieu Garon, LAK 29 8 19 2 .724

Note: Minimum 25 SO attempts faced.
EDIT: Corrected Ryan Miller's missed shots figure to 7, rather than 11 (typo). Thanks to Tim for the heads-up email.

Just as in the offensive analysis, we see a somewhat unexpected bunch of names here. None of the current Top 10 leaders in Save Percentage show up in this leaderboard.

And just as we broke down our shooters by nationality, let's take a look at the goaltending:

Stop Pct. by Country
Goaltender SO Attempts SO Goals Saves Missed Stop Pct.
Sweden 116 21 73 22 .819
Switzerland 61 18 31 12 .705
USA 279 84 165 30 .699
Canada 832 277 439 116 .667
Russia 44 16 24 4 .636
Czech Rep. 62 23 29 10 .629
South Africa 58 22 27 9 .621
Finland 186 74 90 22 .602
Slovakia 30 15 11 4 .500

Note: Minimum 25 SO attempts faced.

If you recall from last week's look at the shooters, the Finns were well out ahead of the rest of the pack. In goal, however, it's an entirely different story (and I'd bet they're not too happy about seeing the Swedes way up at the top). Perhaps the reason those Finnish shooters are performing so well is that they've got so much confidence after competing against lousy Finnish goaltenders? Hey, it's a theory...

Now here's where things get real interesting. Much as in baseball, where managers often pinch-hit to obtain the proper lefty/righty matchup between batter and pitcher, a detailed analysis here may suggest that NHL coaches should take just such a consideration when selecting snipers for the shootout. The table below shows shootout results based on the handedness of the shooter, versus the catching hand of the goaltender. Among goaltenders, about 90% of this action involves left-handed catching gloves, and among shooters, lefties make up about two-thirds. What the numbers suggest here is that coaches should, in general, select players who shoot with the same hand that the opposing goalie catches with. Against left-handed catchers, lefty shooters have a 9.1% better shooting percentage (37.3 - 28.2), and against right-handed catchers, right-handed shooters boast a 7.8% edge (32.8 - 25.0). Unless you've got one of the elite SO artists like Slava Kozlov, Jussi Jokinen, Paul Kariya, or a handful of others, NHL coaches would be wise to take advantage of this aspect of the matchup issue. As always, feel free to print out these results, and take them with you to the rink so you can yell them to the coach during crunch time. I'm sure he'll thank you!

Lefty/Righty SO Matchup Matrix
Matchup SO Attempts SO Goals Shoot Pct.
L Shoot/L Goalie 971 362 37.3%
L Shoot/R Goalie 108 27 25.0%
R Shoot/L Goalie 577 163 28.2%
R Shoot/R Goalie 58 19 32.8%

Last, but not least... well, actually last and least, we present our list of the worst goaltending performers in the shootout. When you see these guys in the opposing net, feel free to chalk up that extra point in the standings:

Bottom 10 SO Goalies by Stop Pct.
Goaltender SO Attempts SO Goals Saves Missed Stop Pct.
Peter Budaj, COL 30 15 11 4 .500
Mikka Kiprusoff, CGY 33 16 11 6 .515
Dwayne Roloson, EDM 32 15 12 5 .531
Curtis Sanford, STL 27 12 13 2 .556
Marc-Andre Fleury, PIT 25 11 14 0 .560

Alexander Auld, FLA
30 13 13 4 .567
Dominik Hasek, DET 27 11 10 6 .593
Ed Belfour, FLA 34 13 19 2 .618
Olaf Kolzig, WSH 58 22 27 9 .621
Nikolai Khabibulin, CHI 37 13 20 4 .649

Note: Minimum 25 SO attempts faced.
EDIT: Yikes! Another typo! Hasek faced 27 attempts, not 10 as originally posted. Thanks to Ian for holding my toes to the fire...

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