Monday, March 10, 2008

A New Vezina Leader

Throughout this season, my Vezina selection has waffled between Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks and Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins, but there is another goalie who has played well lately and taken the lead. He is Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils. Should Brodeur win the Vezina this season, it would be his fourth Vezina win. He now has a better goals against average, a better saves percentage and more wins than either of the other two candidates. The Vezina race is a close one which involves not only those three but also Ilya Bryzgalov of the Phoenix Coyotes, Jean-Sebastien Giguere of the Anaheim Ducks and Pascal Leclaire of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Depending upon the play of the participants, it is very possible that we could have another lead change before the season ends.

tim thomas are you crazy im a bruins fan but theres no way i would think of giving him the vezina. hes sprawled on the ice half the time
Defenitely think Martin Brodeur deserves the Vezina. Look at what he has been able to do, even when everyone and every analyst doubted him at the start of the season. Those non-believers are hiding now!
I second the Brodeur motion. While Ilya Bryzgalov isn't the best goalie in the league, if there were some sort of hybrid "most valuable goalie to his team" award that wasn't the Hart or the Vezina, Breezy would win that in a heartbeat. The Coyotes would be absolutely nowhere without him.
1) As we wrote on this blog 4 days ago, we believe that not only is Brodeur a slam dunk as Vezina, but he desevres considerable Hart consideration as well
2) If the season ended today our 3 Finalsts would be Lidstrom, Malkin and Brodeur. Why not Ovechkin? His team isn't in the playoffs! Hard to select an MVP from a losing team.

I wouldn't be so proud of that opinion. Hockey is a team game. You cannot win consistently at the NHL level with only one good player on your team no matter how good he is.

To punish Ovechkin in a Hart Trophy vote because he has bad teammates is assinine. It seems pretty clear that he has been more valuable (ie. produced more win shares) than Malkin, yet you pick Malkin over Ovechkin do to Malkin's ability to have better teammates.

If the season ended right now my Hart Trophy ballot would have Lidstrom, Ovechkin and Malkin on it. I think a goalie would need a saves percentage approaching .930 (in more games than Ty Conklin - the only man who does) to be at their level.
1) Without Ovechkin the Caps miss the playoffs, with him, they...miss the playoffs. Malkin stepped up his game when his teammate got hurt/ Instead of shrinking at that, he excelled and is near the league lead in scoring as a result. Perhaps he has made the players around him better as well, while Ovechkin hasn't been able to do that as adeptly?
2) We disagree with regards to a specific goalies save % being the lynch-pin of when he can be considered for the Hart. Marty's .922, with the defense he has in front of him is plenty impressive enough to get voters' attention.
With Ovechkin, Washington remains in the playoff race right now. Without him, they would have been eliminated long ago. He produced more wins than Malkin did, he just didn't have the "ability" to have as good teammates.

As for the goalies, there is a very close race between several with no one who has clearly stood out against the pack. For goalies, showing how many wins they have produced is far more of a science than for other position players. By comparing their saves percentage (adjusted for shot quality - in as much as we can believe that data) to that of the average goalie we see how many extra goals they prevented and can convert that pretty well to wins. A goalie would have to be closer to a .930 to have as many goals prevented as the NHL's top scorers have scored.
PSH - I agree with you on Ovechkin's value, but I don't know if you can compare goals prevented exactly with one scorer's goal production. One reason of course is that the league gives away up to three points for every goal scored (the scorer plus two possible assists). It would be comparable to baseball giving out RBI both to the man who drove in the runner, and the previous batter who advanced him from first to third with a single, in addition to giving the runner himself a run for crossing the plate. You can see for yourself how that complicates the math.

Another reason is similar to why Ovechkin is still valuable even if his team doesn't win as often.

Consider: it's possible to have goalies with comparable full-season rate stats, and similar goal support, with different records because of how those goals are distributed. Kipprusoff may go 4-2 while Nabokov goes 2-4, each allowing 12 goals on 150 shots - but Nabby held his opponents consistently to 2 goals each game, while Kipper had two shutouts, two one-goal wins, and then a pair of five-goal duds. Who's the better player over those two weeks - the guy who consistently gave his team a good chance to win (which they couldn't convert) or the guy who gave his team no shot twice? And which is more valuable than (say) Olli Jokinen, who has a great two weeks (6 g, 8 a) while his team goes 1-5? Olli's 14 points are more than either Kipper or Nabby's 12 GA; maybe less than the 15 tough saves each made, but do we take tough saves minus soft goals that a "replacement level" keeper would have stopped, or even goals that they normally would have had?

Over a full season that tends to even out but I still don't think that simply looking at goals prevented vs. goals produced is the most reliable measure. I like the idea but there has got to be some tinkering. One save may be the difference between winning your game, or eventually forced into a losing shootout. I'm big on sabermetrics, but hockey is the toughest of the four major sports to break down in that fashion.

I didn't fully explain myself. I am comparing the goals prevented by a goalie with the goals created by an offensive player. There are a few different formulations of goals created that have the same motivation behind them. The conclusion is the same, this season, the best offensive players created more goals than any single goalie prevented.
You, sir, are an idiot. Thomas or Luongo? And LATELY you have begun to consider Brodeur? Brodeur has been head and shoulders above the other NHL goaltenders all year! By the way, I hate the Devils, but this is obvious to even me. And Thomas or Luongo?? HAHAHAHAHAhahahaha..... Thanks for making my day.
Wow look at the chirpy little birdy who won't even put a real name next to his comment.
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