The New Jersey Devils stand at 10-8-1. Not bad. Myself and I'm sure other fans think it should be better. There's been plenty of talk about the offense, the defense, the powerplay, the penalty kill - but what about goaltending? How's it been this season? With Martin Brodeur's shoulder injury in late October - both he and Johan Hedberg have played about the same amount of games. How have they compared?
A few days ago, David Fine put up a FanPost on turning the page on last season's woes. I commented, and did mention a few things that continue to plague the Devils this season as well. One thing I failed to mention was goaltending, which Triumph44 replied. Looking back at the games, I couldn't really make a definite decision. They've been great in wins, awful in some losses - streaky is probably the best term. Looking at some advanced stats and doing a little research have given me some conclusions.
After the jump is some stats and some more on both goalies.
First off - here's a stat that's going to anger you. Per Behind the Net, the Devils have the lowest save percentage at 5-on-5. 0.893 is horrible. They let up 3 goals per 60 at 5-on-5, which is 29th in the league. However, they are the 5th best at giving up shots at 27.7 SA per 60. This tells me the defense is doing it's job for the most part by limiting shots on goal. but when opposing teams take shots that hit the net - it's going in 11.7% of the time. Are the defenders leaving the goalies out to dry, or are these just blunders by Marty and Moose?
It's pretty clear who the better goalie has been this season. Of course - Marty has had to deal with an injury that made him leave one game, and miss the next six. It tough enough to get into game shape and speed to start the season, let alone do it twice in so many months. Hedberg played well, yet the team went 2-3-1 in that stretch. Marty has been good as of late - he's getting more playing time since coming back.
The difference in save percentage really scares me. Yet this is overall. The Devils have managed to have a stellar penalty kill and a not so good powerplay (that let's up shorthanded goals to make it worse). How do Marty and Moose compare at even strength? (Just note - the behind the net data I stated above is just 5-on-5 - the data below is all even strength).
The save percentage at even strength doesn't change things much. The total save percentage is 0.901. Hedberg actually faced a Max Talbout penalty shot in the beginning of the month, which counts as an even strength shot and goal. If you eliminate that - his save % increases slightly. Marty faces a little more than a half a shot more per game than Hedberg and let's up a little less than a goal per game. Should we be happy with Moose's stats, or disturbed about Marty's? In Marty's last three games, he's got a 0.899 save % at even strength - so his stats are improving. Maybe this is why I couldn't come to a conclusion about how the goaltending's been.
So has Moose been better than Marty this year? The stats say yes. But I don't think by that wide of margin the stats suggest. First, it's still early to make this call. Goaltending overall hasn't been the strongest suit, but it's most definitely not the weakest. The defense and goaltending just need to be sharper and more consistent. I feel both of them have let up some softies, yet at the same time, stopped some remarkable shots. I don't think either goalie at this point has deserved to be the #1 or #1A and I don't think either goalie has deserved to not be #1 or #1A.
I think DeBoer feels the same way. John pointed this out in a preview, but Pete DeBoer and his staff will be looking at their own stats and records on the two goalies to make a decision on who to start. Before the Boston game, DeBoer said this to Gulitti:
"We looked at the schedule, we looked at the history against these teams in these buildings and it was a combination of a lot of different factors," DeBoer said. "Back-to-back we’re going to use both guys. That’s something we talked about right from Day 1 of the season, so it wasn’t a matter of wins or losses. It was more looking at other factors."
Did they compare team vs goalie stats? Did they compare player vs. goalie stats? We won't know. But this suggests they are going to use both weapons they have. I mean, why not? At their age - it's smart to give each a nod when back-to-back games are scheduled.
As Devils fans - we never really had the chance to question who will start this game and who will that game. It's been Marty. Now the organization and coaching staff have a choice in net. I'd be very interesting on how their games match up in 10 games down the road, 20 games, and so on becuase it looks like they are going to share the helm
So I ask you Devils fans - who has been better so far? Should there be a definite #1 and #2 goalie or #1A and #1B? Should they share the starting role? Do you like DeBoer's strategy? How do you feel about the stats? Let us know - Thanks for reading.