Monday, March 24, 2008

Yet Another Look At The Vezina Race

I think the NHL award that should be the closest in voting is the Vezina Trophy for best goaltender. I last picked Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils as my pick. Previous to that I had picked Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks. Also clearly in the race are Jean-Sebastien Giguere of the Anaheim Ducks and Ilya Bryzgalov of the Phoenix Coyotes. I could imagine circumstances where any of those four players play some strong games for the rest of the season, while other contenders struggle, that could lead to any of the four deserving the Vezina. I am changing my pick back to Roberto Luongo. He has a better saves percentage than Brodeur (.922 compared to .920) in almost the same amount of work (Luongo has played 66 games compared to Brodeur's 70. Luongo faces more shots per game).

I think it is interesting that in a post about the MVP James Mirtle picks Brodeur but not Luongo as a candidate. I would say that at this point, Luongo has been the better of the tow, but time exists for that to possibly change.

No Evgeni Nabokov? As of today he has better stats then Brodeur in every catagory except sv%. Don't forget that Brodeur won the Vezina in '03 with a sv% of .913 which is probably around where Nabokov will end up at the end of the season.
Saves percentage is an extremely important factor to me in determining how well a goalie is playing. It is the statistic best linked to any sabermetric analysis of hockey. Nabokov has played a lot of hockey on a good team and that will give him good statistics in less meaningful more team depedant places (wins, shutouts, GAA).

I am not making a prediction as to who will win the award. I am discussing who should win the award. Who will win is not as interesting a problem to me. It is based more on goalie reputation sometimes then actual goal performance.

Brodeur winning with a .913 saves percentage was a big mistake Vezina selection. There is no logical way to show he was the best goalie in the NHL that season. If Nabokov is selected it would be the same.
I'm going to have to disagree with you, save percent is just as team dependant as any of the other goalie stats that are collected. I don't know how closely you follow the Sharks but they are excellent at taking away shooting lanes and blocking shots, Nabokov does not get to pad his sv% by making numerous "easy" stops per game. Only Detroit allows fewer shots then SJ and if you look at the stats of Hasek and Osgood from the past 2 seasons you'll see that they have the same pattern, a low save percent and low gaa.
What you are arguing defies common sense. Saves percentage is team dependant in that it does not take into account shot quality. Some attempts have been made to this - of course like everything they are imperfect.

What you appear to be arguing is despite San Jose allowing few shots, their defence sucks and leaves Nabokov to stop all the high quality shots (and he face more high quality shot than goalies who face more shots per game). That is the only way to make up the difference in saves percentage. However, you are also arguing that San Jose has a good defence at the saem time (and hence would not give up high quality shots).

There is no evidence whatsoever to support the assertion that San Jose allows more high quality shots than similar teams. It isn't true.

Nabokov may be a good goalie, but any Vezina chances he has are largely a product of playing a lot of games behind a good defence, as opposed to being a Vezina worthy goalie.
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