Johan Hedberg made a lot of big stops in February. But how many of the 14 goals he allowed were soft? (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Whereas December and January weren't good statistical months for Johan Hedberg, February was the opposite. The Moose was fantastic in February. His performances in the month were superb. It was wonderful to watch him actually go into games and dominate. Martin Brodeur left the February 6 game against Montreal with an injury, Hedberg came in relief and he completely ran with the opportunity as the Devils actually won a whole lot of games.
|February 2011 - Johan Hedberg||10||588||7||1||1||14||1.43||247||233||.943||2|
With a stat line like this combined with how he did in each game, no wonder he was the ILWT Devil of the Month of February. Just look at that save percentage: 94.3%! In a word: brilliant!
Still, there's good reason to look at the 14 goals he did allow in February. Just because Hedberg put up a great February - and don't misunderstand me, it was great - doesn't necessarily mean he was without fault. While the numbers are a big turnaround from December and January, in reviewing the goals against in both months, we learned that most of the goals then weren't his fault. What about in this month? Did he let in any soft goals among those 14? How was he beaten? What errors led to some of these goals against, if such errors are applicable? Let's review these goals allowed in February and talk about it after the jump.
About the Review
The main thing I'm looking for in this review are "soft goals," those goals against that should have been stopped by the goaltender. Here's how I am defining a soft goal. The goalie must have seen the shot coming; the shot was not deflected or change otherwise in motion; the goalie was in position to actually make the stop; and the goaltender made an uncharacteristic mistake that led to the goal. If all were true, then I deemed the goal as "soft." In fact, the very last bit alone can make the difference between a soft goal or not (e.g. first goal against by Hedberg).
I've added a new column to the chart called Skater Error. Did a Devils skater do something seriously wrong on the play that led to the goal? If so, their name (or names) end up on the chart. I could be picky and call them out for every goal, but I'm only highlighting who's actions or lack thereof contributed to the goal against. There will be goals where multiple skaters screw up, so you may see more than one name. I'm tracking this to see who was commonly at fault, assuming it means anything. As with the goals against themselves, feel free to discuss this too.
Lastly, I have provided links to the video I looked at for each goal from NHL.com. These links will auto-play the video, so be forewarned.
The 14 Goals Allowed by Johan Hedberg in February 2011: A Chart
|Date||GA#||Where Beaten?||GA Description||Soft Goal?||Video Link||Skater Error|
|2/4/2011||47||Right side past blocker||Steve Bernier cuts in for a shortside shot. Hedberg stops it, but Chris Higgins is first to the rebound and puts it in.||No||Link|
|2/4/2011||48||Through the legs||Chris Wideman fires a slapshot from the center point and it finds it's way through the traffic and Hedberg. PPGA||No||Link|
|2/4/2011||49||Low, around Hedberg's left||Mike Santorelli intercepts a soft pass by Kovalchuk and rushes up ice. Hedberg dives early and Santorelli curls around for the easy goal. SHGA||Yes||Link||Kovalchuk|
|2/4/2011||50||Past Hedberg's left arm, between arm and left post||Rostislav Olesz enters the zone, sees Hedberg out but not against the left post, and fires it through the space. OTGA||Yes||Link|
|2/6/2011||51||Deflected over Hedberg's left shoulder||Scott Gomez drops a pass back for P.K. Subban on a counter-attack. While Devils get back, Subban unloads a slapshot that deflects off Kovalchuk's stick and beats Hedberg high.||No||Link|
|2/8/2011||52||Through the legs||Jeff Skinner comes down the right wing, fires a seemingly harmless low shot, and it goes in between Hedberg's legs. PPGA||Yes||Link|
|2/8/2011||53||Low, past the stick of the fallen Hedberg||Eric Staal fires a long shot that's saved, the rebound bounces loose, and Jeff Skinner puts it past the diving stick of Hedberg. PPGA||No||Link|
|2/10/2011||54||Low, under a diving Hedberg||Phil Kessel gets pass right at the crease, Hedberg stops him, and Kessel fires the rebound to the top of the crease. Nikolai Kulemin slides the puck in past a diving Hedberg.||No||Link||Salmela|
|2/11/2011||55||Low, on Hedberg's left flank||Hedberg makes a stop on a Niclas Wallin shot from the point. The rebound gets to Patrick Marleau at the crease and he puts it on Hedberg's flank||No||Link||Fraser|
|2/16/2011||56||High, past Hedberg's glove||Jiri Tlusty picks off a soft clearance by Andy Greene behind the net. He feeds Sergei Samonov at the crease for a one-timer past Hedberg's glove||No||Link||Greene|
|2/16/2011||57||On Hedberg's right flank||6-on-5 situation, Eric Staal somehow threads a pass to Tuomo Ruutu at the right side of the crease. Ruutu one-times it on Hedberg's right flank||No||Link|
|2/19/2011||58||Low, past Hedberg's right pad||Jamie McBain fires a long wrist shot, Pat Dwyer deflects it to make it go low and past Hedberg's right pad||No||Link|
|2/25/2011||59||Past Hedberg's glove||Right off a faceoff win by Steve Stamkos, Martin St. Louis fires a shot from the high slot through several bodies and past Hedberg's glove||No||Link|
|2/25/2011||60||Top right corner, past/over Hedberg's glove||After a faceoff, Dainius Zubrus kicks a puck to Simon Gagne in the high slot and he blasts it into the top right corner||No||Link||Zubrus|
I counted 3 out of the 14 goals allowed in February to be soft. One way to look at it is that even when Hedberg was on his game, he blew it a few times. Another is to say that while the soft ones were regrettable, it speaks to how well he played in February - even with the errors he made a lot of stops, a bad goal against didn't ruin his run. A third way is to say that a pattern is forming: that Hedberg could be good for 2-4 soft goals in a month's work; though that's weakened by the varying amount of time he played in each month. A fourth way is to point out that Hedberg actually played more minutes in this month than any other this season and only gave up three soft goals against, his lowest percentage since November. Anyway, it's 3 out of 14 and regardless of how you see it, let's talk about them first.
Interestingly, two of the three soft ones came in that first game Hedberg played in: February 4 against Florida. While Moose made some important stops, his errors in positioning cost the team late. While Ilya Kovalchuk's turnover was awful, Hedberg coming out of his net and making the first move just made it easy for Mike Santorelli on a shorthanded breakaway in GA #49. Hedberg topped that error by just not hugging the post when Rostislav Olesz came in down low, giving him the space to score GA #50 and win the game. Feel free to sign, groan, and moan as I did when I saw that live and again on video for this post.
That night would be his only "off" night - and even then, those first two goals against (GA #47, #48) weren't his fault. Hedberg became incredibly hard to beat as no team was able to put more than two past him for the rest of the month; a total of 10 goals allowed in 9 games. I repeat: Hedberg was awesome in February.
In that stretch, only one of those ten were soft: GA #52. I'm not sure how Jeff Skinner caught him while entering the zone, I'm not sure why Hedberg didn't have his stick down on the ice, but a mostly harmless shot just squeaked in. Incidentally, all three soft goals came in non 5-on-5 situations: one shorthanded, one in overtime, and one on a power play.
Hedberg was more let down by plays at the crease for goals against than soft ones. Some were just bang-bang plays where no Devil was really at fault, like Jeff Skinner's power play rebound goal (GA #52) and Tuomo Ruutu on Hedberg's flank with the extra man on the ice (GA #59). You can point a finger at a skater on others: like Andy Greene's lack of coverage on Chris Higgins (GA #47); Anssi Salmela being behind the play en route to Nikolai Kulemin scoring an easy one (GA #54); Mark Fraser ineffectively covering Patrick Marleau (GA #55 - and this got Fraser benched in the game); and Greene making a poor clearance along the boards which led to a pass behind the net for a point-blank one-timer (GA #56). The main takeaway from this is that a goalie can be beaten when even just one skater doesn't respond quickly or makes a mistake of their own. Even one who has been playing as well as Moose did in February.
The rest of the list is rounded out by deflections (GA #48, GA #51 - inadvertently off Kovalchuk's stick shaft, GA #58) and two shots right off faceoffs. Incidentally, those two came in that final game for Moose in February at Tampa Bay. GA #59 came from a Lightning win on the draw, which went to Martin St. Louis who fired a laser Hedberg didn't see. Hedberg did see the shot on GA #60, but it was a surprise for him as the shot came off a kicked puck by Dainius Zubrus that went right to Simon Gagne. That's why I didn't fault Hedberg for the goal. While it was an accident by Big Z, since it set up the goal, I named him on the error.
All the same, Hedberg had a very good month statistically and once again, the majority of goals against were not his fault. Since he didn't get lit up, it's easier to see how well he did from this standpoint.
Location of Goals Allowed
All locations are relative to Hedberg himself, not necessarily where the puck goes into the net. It's pretty simplistic, but it'll do for general information.
Hedberg wasn't beaten high too often in the month. The only ones that got him "high left" were that fluky GA #50, the soft GA #51, the point-blank one-timer GA #56, and the shot off the faceoff GA #60. Not exactly indicative of a height issue. Since there were a few rebounds and deflection goals, I struggle to agree that he was weak low either. Just that he got beaten down there quite a bit. I am likely biased with how well he did in the month overall, though.
This is the penultimate month for this review of the goals allowed by Johan Hedberg. He didn't play a single minute in March. So next week will feature his April performance and a summary of all previous posts.
Now that you've seen a deeper look into Hedberg's extraordinary performance in February, what do you think of it? Do you see it from a more negative point of view, or a more positive one? Have you noticed any trend across all of the months so far? Do you agree with what I called soft, what I didn't call soft, and who I named as a skater making a notable error? Please give your answers and other thoughts about this month's review of goals against in the comments. Thanks for reading.