Welcome to the Edmonton Oilers’ show! The northernmost team in the Pacific Division took the top spot in this week’s Goals Saved Above Expected race, usurping the Vegas Golden Knights in the process. Stuart Skinner continues to be among the best goalies in the league, and far and away the best goalie in the division.
Their rivals down the QEII, the Calgary Flames, kept the second spot in the Pacific, with a decent performance from Dan Vladar and an excellent one from Jacob Markstrom, who was the best goalie in the Pacific this week.
Last week’s champions the Vegas Golden Knights had a very forgettable week, dropping to second last in the division. Adin Hill and particularly Logan Thompson could not do much to keep the Knights afloat. Thankfully they were inches better than the LA Kings, who continue to be at the bottom of the table. Let’s break it all down!
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 are plots of GSAx for Pacific Division goaltenders over the past week from December 7 to December 13 as well as over the season-to-date. All data is from NaturalStatTrick.com.
Teams are arranged by total team GSAx. The Edmonton Oilers 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 9 GSAx visualisations for the four NHL divisions here.
Yikes this was NOT a great week for the Pacific Division’s goaltenders. Only five goalies were on the right side of the chart this week, and only two goalies were very much better than expected.
After a very rough start to the season, Jacob Markstrom is right back where he was expected to be, on the right side of the GSAx chart. The Vezina Trophy finalist finished the week stopping a whopping 5.80 goals above expected. Just absolutely incredible numbers.
On the flip side, this was a forgettable week for Jonathan Quick. The LA Kings’ netminder posted an abysmal -4.95 GSAx, allowing almost five more goals than expected on just 67 shots. And while LA is a banged up team right now, those numbers are downright terrible for a team that should undoubtedly be doing better.
What is perhaps most interesting is the number of goalies who were right around the mean this week. Nine goalies fell between +0.52 and -0.52, meaning they were right around average. This is a sign that the model is doing what it is supposed to do and that the goalies in the Pacific Division are doing just about the same. Over time, almost every goalie should regress to be around this point.
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 sixth out of 17 goalies.
Season-to-date goals saved above expected
As we close in on Christmas, the Pacific Division is starting to regress towards the mean, but one goalie stands tall against the rest.
A number of teams are starting to see their goaltending regress towards the mean this season. Vegas’ Hill and Thompson are joined by Markstrom and Dan Vladar in Calgary, and James Reimer, Aaron Dell, and Eetu Makiniemi in being right around zero GSAx, exactly where they should be at the end of the year.
Only the Seattle Kraken, Anaheim Ducks, and Los Angles Kings do not have a goalie at or above zero GSAx. This is expected for the first two, who were expected to struggle this season. Joey Daccord being the best goalie for the Kraken was not something that was an expected bet at the start of the year, but the former Arizona State Sun Devil has been very impressive in limited minutes this season for the team.
This was not expected however for the Kings, who were more likely to be in the top-three in the Pacific Division this season. They have sent Cal Petersen down to the AHL, and were able to clear him through waivers quite simply because his performance to this point has been pretty marginal. Expect them to regress positively in time, as they have too much talent on their roster for their goalies to look this bad.
Skinner in a class of his own
Stuart Skinner continues to lead the pack in the Pacific Division, rocking a GSAx of over ten this season. He has been a major difference-maker for an Oilers team with a high powered offense, but that has struggled on the back-end. The rookie netminder is just 31 games into his NHL career, and looks like he should be in the conversation for the Calder Trophy this season. He is truly in a class of his own this season.
On the other side for the Oilers is Jack Campbell, who has been among the worst in the Pacific this season. He is battling with Thatcher Demko and Jonathan Quick for that dubious title, and all three were expected to be much much better this season. The Oilers are going to need him to be much better or the next four years of his $5M contract with a modified no-trade clause are going to be a boat anchor for the organization.
Stay tuned each week for the latest goaltending GSAx updates!
Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8
Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire