After it seemed like the Edmonton Oilers were settling down on their goaltender usage, this past week was a bit of a curveball. Backup goalie Stuart Skinner excelled in his two appearances; starting goaltender Jack Campbell continued to be consistently inconsistent.
Pacific Division goals saved above expected
We can look at goaltending performances using goals saved above expected (GSAx), which gives a more objective way to assess whether they are performing above or below expectations. Are goalies making saves they wouldn’t be expected to, or are they letting in goals that they should be saving.
Each week on Thursdays we’ll look at the past week of goaltending performances, and also look at the whole season-to-date. Below is are plots of GSAx for Pacific Division goaltenders over the past week from October 26 to November 1 as well as over the season-to-date. All data is from NaturalStatTrick.com.
Teams are arranged by total team GSAx. This week, those honours go to the Vegas Golden Knights. Also, every goaltender who’s made at least one appearance in the past week will be plotted on their team’s x-axis.
Essentially, goaltenders to the right of the plot with positive GSAx have outperformed expectations, whereas goaltenders to the left with negative GSAx have underperformed. The additional use of colour details a goaltender’s relative workload as well: the higher the shot count, the brighter yellow a goaltender is; and the lower the shot count, the darker blue.
Oilers goals saved above expected
Check out the full set of Week 3 GSAx visualisations for the four NHL divisions here.
This week was entirely dominated by Skinner. He was by far the best goaltender in the Pacific Division. He had a GSAx of 4.14, nearly double the next best goalie in Spencer Martin and his 2.20. Skinner’s weekly GSAx would have easily had the Oilers in first place if it wasn’t for Campbell’s GSAx of -2.70 pulling them down.
The Golden Knights led simply cause both goaltenders were net positive, neither Logan Thompson nor Adin Hill had particularly strong weeks. Just good enough, and sometimes that’s all it takes.
The only other team with positive GSAx were the Vancouver Canucks, where the duo of Martin and Thatcher Demko combined for 0.01 GSAx.
The Calgary Flames and San Jose Sharks were sunk by bad performances from Dan Vladar and Kaapo Kahkonen, respectively.
The raw GSAx numbers
The table below shows the same data used in the visualisation for clarity, and is sorted in order of highest to lowest GSAx. Skinner is first overall by a large margin, while Campbell is 14th out of 16 goalies.
Season-to-date goals saved above expected
Skinner’s latest week propelled him to the top of the Pacific, overtaking Thompson for first overall. So far, it looks like the three best goaltending teams might end up being the three locks for the Pacific playoff spots.
When looking at the season as a whole, Skinner’s ascent to the top is impressive given his usage is relatively low. He’s not facing as many shots as Campbell, yet is making way more saves. That’s even more true when looking at the entire Pacific.
Some of the division’s worst goaltenders are facing far more shots than their counterparts, like Demko, John Gibson, and Jonathan Quick. However, Skinner has been consistently good in his limited usage, so far disproving the notion that goaltenders can be streaky if they don’t get a string of consecutive starts.
Going ahead with the goalies
The Oilers are enjoying a five-game win streak as they start the month of November. Truth be told, a big portion of that has come from the Oilers’ offence giving Campbell run support, and Skinner giving the offence goaltending support when they aren’t firing on all cylinders.
Edmonton has an interesting goaltending dynamic right now to say the least.
Stay tuned each week for the latest goaltending GSAx updates!