Thursday, October 25, 2007

Best Goalie So Far

So far this season, I have picked Paul Stastny of the Colorado Avalanche as the best forward so far this year (though that pick is no longer likely correct) and Brian Campbell of the Buffalo Sabres as the best defenceman so far. It is time to look at the goaltenders. The best goalie so far this year has been Martin Biron of the Philadelphia Flyers. He is the main reason this team, which finished last in the league last season, is off to a good 6-2 start, which puts them first in their division.

So far this year, Biron has a .945 saves percentage and a 1.88 GAA and has been credited with all six Flyer wins. Last season, the Flyers used five different goalies (Antero Niittymaki, Robert Esche, Michael Leighton, Martin Houle and Martin Biron - but Biron only played 16 games for them as he was acquired from Buffalo during the season). They had a team saves percentage of .892, which is bad. Biron this season is allowing nearly half the shots on goal that the Flyer team allows to become goals, compared to the team rate last year. If you can shrink your goals against by almost half, of course you will see a big improvement in the standings. Philadelphia is still allowing about eight shots a game more than they are taking themselves. That is bad news. The tam is not nearly as improved as their position in the standings would show. Almost all of the improvement comes from the better goaltending of Martin Biron.

If Biron can keep up this extraordinary level of play, Philadelphia will have a fine season. Biron will win the Vezina and likely the Hart Trophies. However, there is no evidence over the course of his career to date to make us believe he is capable of maintaining this level of play over an entire season. He has been an acceptable starting goalie in the past while in Buffalo (though he eventually lost his job to Ryan Miller). He was not the kind of goalie who played in all star games or challenged for Vezina Trophies, but he was solid. That is the kind of goaltending Philadelphia should expect from Biron the rest of the way. Unfortunately, given the way the rest of the team is playing so far, that will not be good enough. Philadelphia will not maintain their position atop the Atlantic Division without a better defence and possibly more scoring. Their goaltending, which has so far been outstanding, is not likely to maintain that level all year. However, as long as it does, Martin Biron will likely be playing as the best goalie in the NHL so far this season.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?