The Golden Knights have taken the top spot in the Pacific Division goals saved above expected chart this week, usurping the Calgary Flames who held last week’s title. Logan Thompson and Adin Hill both took a huge step forward, and both were right around the right side of the charts.
Last week’s second best team, the Anaheim Ducks, split their goalie starts, with both Anthony Stolarz and John Gibson playing two games and both facing over 80 shots combined. They fell down two spots from second to fourth.
The Calgary Flames took the second spot this week, and while their goaltending has been highly criticized, both netminders finished right around the zero GSAx mark, saving exactly as many shots as they were expected to this week.
For the Edmonton Oilers, it’s been the same story week after week: Stuart Skinner is playing very good hockey—Jack Campbell is not so much.
There were some really strong performers this week, and some that really, really struggled. Let’s dive into it!
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 November 30 to December 6 as well as over the season-to-date. All data is from NaturalStatTrick.com.
Teams are arranged by total team GSAx. The Vegas Golden Knights had the best team GSAx this week. 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 8 GSAx visualisations for the four NHL divisions here.
This was a big week for Adin Hill of the Vegas Golden Knights. He was the only netminder in the division to have a GSAx above 2.5 this week, which is a big statement in a division with as many strong netminders as the Pacific has.
The four goalies who played heavy minutes, Stuart Skinner, Logan Thompson, Anthony Stolarz, and John Gibson all were right around average, sitting either just above or just below average. Skinner was the only netminder this week to face over 100 shots in the division, seeing a whopping 108. He started three games this past week, the only goalie to do so.
The biggest dropper this week was the Vancouver Canucks’ Spencer Martin. He was on the right side of the GSAx chart last week, but took a huge step backwards this week with a -3.59 goals saved above expected. Yikes! What’s perhaps toughest is that it wasn’t just one game this week; Martin featured in three and still really struggled. The Canucks desperately need to figure this one out and fast.
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 was second while Campbell was 15th out of 17 goalies.
Season-to-date goals saved above expected
The season has passed the quarter mark, and the week-over-week GSAx picture continues to fluctuate quite a lot, especially in the Pacific Division.
The Pacific Division has a ton of fluctuation still at this point in the year, with some teams really struggling of late. The Canucks desperately need to figure out their netminding situation with only Collin Delia on the right side of the GSAx chart right now.
No team has all of their goalies with positive GSAx numbers so far this season, but the Vegas Golden Knights are the closest, with Adin Hill trending in the right direction this week. He is just shy of even right now and one more good week should send him over the edge.
The Los Angeles Kings continue to be the worst in the division, with Pheonix Copley being the lone bright spot right now. After sending Cal Petersen to the AHL, the Kings are trying everything they can to show they can be the real deal this season. If they want to be a playoff team again this season, they will need to figure out their goaltending situation and figure it out very quickly.
Is Skinner starting to steal the net for the Oilers?
Stuart Skinner is starting to quietly take over the net in Edmonton. After the struggles that Jack Campbell has faced this season, Skinner has quietly shown that he can be the goalie for the Oilers’ night in and night out, and that has been a huge difference-maker for the team. He was one of just two goalies in the division to play three games, and was among the best performers of the week.
However, there is no way the Oilers can just ride one goalie for the rest of this season and beyond. They need to do everything they can to get Campbell going this season. At a cap hit of $5 million for this season and the next four and a modified no-trade clause, it’s hard to see the Oilers being able to do much if they cannot get him to at least be able to be a tandem goalie for the team.
Stay tuned each week for the latest goaltending GSAx updates!
Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire