For a very good reason, a lot of people are talking about the Devils netminders lately. Both Martin Brodeur and Cory Schnieder have played very well. They are a big reason for the improved on-ice performace and results for the Devils team this past few weeks. From Nate's shocking tell-all insider expose published earlier in the week to TG's on-the-road interview of the tandem yesterday afternoon in Anaheim, the press coverage has certainly intensified.
Both Brodeur and Schneider have virtually identical goals against averages and save percentages. The only difference between the two is record, and it is a stark contrast. Brodeur (6-3-2, 1.98 GAA, .919 sv%) has all the wins, while Schneider (1-5-3, 1.98 GAA, .918 sv%) has toiled in futility thus far.
In the comments section of the recap of Saturday night's victory over the Penguins, John succinctly demonstrated the bad luck that Schneider has endured so far. The Devils are actually playing better by possession and shot metrics when Schneider is in net than Brodeur. A quick glance at this stats page from extra skater clearly shows that the Devils Corsi for % is actually much higher in front of Cory during 5v5 play. So, the team is getting more attempts on net and driving play forward better in front of Schneider. The main difference is merely the team shooting percentage. While 10% of the shots are going in while Brodeur plays, just 3.1% of the shots are going in in front of Schneider. That is a huge difference, and could easily explain the differences in won-loss records. When looking just at tied score situations, the difference is even more drastic. Based on this alone, if Cory keeps up his level of play, things will go better for him soon.
There was a specific comment that Schneider made to Gulitti yesterday that stuck in my mind. Schneider said, "I think we’re generating chances. We’re getting some looks. We’re running into some good defensive teams and some good goaltending..." This comment checks out on the surface when I think back through my mind. I seem to recall Schneider facing some of the tougher teams the Devils have played so far. So, although this comment passes the 'eye test' I want to take a closer look at exactly who each goaltender has faced so far. We've already established one clear reason for the different records. Could there be another?
Here are the game by game splits for each goaltender starting with Brodeur. The charts indicate the team played against and the team record, the goaltender faced and his record, as well as the goaltender's stats.
Well, it appears Cory's story checks out. First off, the records of the teams he has faced are much better than the team's faced by Brodeur. Interestingly enough, the specific won /loss records of the goaltenders faced and their winning percentages is very very similar (.535 winning %, .587 nhl points % [Schneider] vs .537 winning %, .570 nhl points % [Brodeur]). The counting stats, however, are very different.
I decided to show two averages - one of them is weighted to take into account how many games each opponent has played. The other total is a straight average. Either way you slice it, Schneider has clearly faced tougher goaltending overall. The most obvious difference is in the goals against average. Using the weighted average, Schneider's opponents are giving up barely more than 2 goals a game. (2.14) this is nearly half a goal (.41 to be exact) per game less than Brodeur's opponents.
The save percentages are pretty telling too. Schneider's opponents are making more saves and teams are shooting at a lower percentage against said opponents. It's no surprise, therefore, that the Devils players are shooting at a lower percentage when Schneider is in goal.
Using the weighted averages again, teams are shooting right around 7.7% against Schneider's opponents so far this year in all situations. The Devils are shooting merely 4.5% against these same opponents, so puck luck is clearly an exacerbating factor here. Turning to Brodeur, NHL teams are shooting 8.8% against his opponents so far. The Devils team is shooting 10.8% so far against these same opponents. In he games that Brodeur plays, the Devils are getting some favorable shooting results, about 2.0% higher than the league average so far against the same goaltenders.
Cory's right. He's faced the tougher teams, and the tougher goaltenders overall in terms of stopping shots (not really in terms of win percentage - which I guess shows he's not the only one getting unlucky at times).