Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Vezina Race Again

I have written a few times recently about the Vezina race for the best goalie in the NHL. I think it is a very close race primarily between Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks and Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils. When I last wrote about it, I picked Luongo as the leader. I have also picked Brodeur as the leader for a short time before that. I have basically picked Luongo as the leader off and on throughout the season, with periods where Brodeur and Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins led.

I think Brodeur has moved back into the lead. He has a saves percentage lead over Luongo (.920 to .918), a GAA lead (2.16 to 2.35) and a wins lead (43 to 35). Part of the difference is due to the fact Brodeur plays on a better team and likely faces lower quality shots, but I think the difference is large enough that it supports Brodeur having had the better season so far.

At this point, Jean-Sebastien Giguere of the Anaheim Ducks is a likely third nominee. He has a better saves percentage (.923) than either of the two leaders but in far less work (57 games played). The Vezina race is close enough that I may change my mind depending upon results in the remaining few games, but for now I give Brodeur the lead.

Luongo certainly doesnt deserve the Vezina & you can't really go wrong with Brodeur, so I'll go with that. (And next year may be Pricey's)
Why doesn't Luongo deserve it? He has had a very good season.
Luongo is tied for 11th in SV% and GAA. I'm not saying he does or doesn't deserve it, but I do question a little why Nabby isn't in the conversation, ranked as #3 in GAA.

If you think SV% is the best indicator to goalie performance, then why aren't we talking about Breezy, Backstrom, or Vokoun?
"Why doesn't Luongo deserve it?"

Well, on statistics alone hes just barely in the top 1/3 of the league, and, so far, he hasnt proven himself to be a "Big Game" goalie, the way Brodeur for example has.....and lately, Luongo has been mediocre at best.

Luongo VS other NHL goalies:

2007-2008 Wins (35) GAA (2.35) Save % (0.918)
Overall 7th Tied for 10th* Tied for 11th*
* among goalies who meet minimum games played standard.
>>The only stat he really excells in is wins but, that could be inflated since he plays so many of the games; leaving few for his backup.
Quite honestly, Luongo is experiencing a monumental collapse during these last few games of the season. I know there are external factors in Lu's life that may be affecting his presence on the ice. But his team may miss the playoffs because of it.

It seems hard to imagine that a team that doesn't qualify for the playoffs would have their goalie win the Vezina when there are so many other good candidates on playoff-bound teams. It certainly hasn't happened lately, that I can think of.
Allow me to correct myself based on more up-to-date information: Luongo's team will not be playing in the playoffs. Again, I'm not blaming their failures solely on him. Nobody can bear all the blame, although everyone shares at least a bit, and Lu probably more than most.

It is time for Nabokov to be talked about along with Brodeur. Luongo should not be in the discussion in my opinion.
If we look at goals saved its quite clear Brodeur and Luongo are well ahead of the pack. That's the short reason why the Vezina race should come down to those two.

Ideally, the Vezina goes to the goalie with the most win shares (were there a formalism to properly calculate that). Whether his team makes playoffs or not is irrelevant.
I agree that's the theory of it. It's not the reality of it.
As for goals saved, according to my calculations, and I may have done them wrong, is Brodeur(24), Giguere(22), Thomas(22), Luongo(18).

It's basically SV% weighted by games played.

You are correct and I am wrong. I calculated goals saved for the goalies about a week or so ago. At that time, Luongo had a .921 or .922 saves percentage. At that time Brodeur and Luongo were the two clear leaders of the pack.

I lazily assumed that it couldn't have changed that much in the meantime. Thank you for checking the numbers and showing me I am wrong.

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