Skinner remains the best goalie in the Pacific — Visualising GSAx Week 11

Who would have thought that the Anaheim Ducks would jump up to first place in this week’s Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx) Rankings! Carried by a monster week from Lukas Dostal, who was shelled to the tune of over 40 saves a night, the Ducks took the top spot in this week’s rankings.

Last week’s champions, the Los Angeles Kings dropped to third, as the Edmonton Oilers took second on the back of Stuart Skinner. Jack Campbell did not see a single minute of icetime this week, as his younger counterpart is starting to wholly steal the crease in the Alberta Capital.

The San Jose Sharks ended at the bottom of the Pacific Division this week as James Reimer could not stop much of anything for the team. The Ducks were the only team with a goalie below -2.5 GSAx this week. Yikes!

Let’s dive right into the full breakdown!

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 21 to December 27 as well as over the season-to-date. All data is from NaturalStatTrick.com.

Teams are arranged by total team GSAx. The Anaheim Ducks 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 11 GSAx visualisations for the four NHL divisions here.

This was a shorter week, as teams were on holidays for Christmas, but there was enough NHL action to get a good idea of how the team’s respective goalies did. The top two and bottom three teams rolled with just one goalie this week, with very different results.

On the top end, Dostal in Anaheim and Skinner in Edmonton, were both excellent for their teams, with Skinner being particularly impressive in the Oilers’ 2-1 victory over the Calgary Flames earlier this week. He stopped 46 of the 47 shots that the Flames threw at him in that one.

On the other side were James Reimer of the Sharks, Logan Thompson of the Vegas Golden Knights, and Martin Jones of the Seattle Kraken. All three were less than average in their performances, with Reimer being substantially worse than the other two. Jones probably deserves a bit of a pass here, as he only saw one game of action this week, but the other two faced 51 and 62 shots respectively this week. Not great from either team.

The three teams in the middle played two goalies apiece with generally decent results. The Flames and Vancouver Canucks ended up getting just around average goaltending between their two netminders, while the Los Angeles Kings, who have been a goaltending nightmare for much of this season, saw above average results from theirs.

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 out of 11 goalies while Jack Campbell made no appearances.

GoalieTeamGPShots AgainstGSAx
Lukas DostalANA2862.86
Stuart SkinnerEDM31032.62
Collin DeliaVAN1331.89
Jonathan QuickLAK1241.47
Pheonix CopleyLAK2550.71
Jacob MarkstromCGY2450.61
Dan VladarCGY132-0.67
Martin JonesSEA137-1.34
Logan ThompsonVGK376-1.46
Spencer MartinVAN262-1.47
James ReimerSJS251-3.07

Season-to-date goals saved above expected

We’re still starting to see some regression to the mean across the board, but the two poles of very good and very bad are really showing through this season.

Most teams and most goalies are starting to regress to the mean. The Flames’ two goalies net out to just below zero, and the same with Eetu Makiniemi and Aaron Dell in San Jose.

This is however where we are starting to see the younger goalies across the division starting to steal jobs from veterans in their organization. Dostal has established himself as the better of the two goalies in Anaheim, Thompson is pushing Adin Hill for the starting job in Vegas, and of course Skinner in Edmonton has started to steal the net completely from Jack Campbell.

Six goalies are sitting right at the bottom of the GSAx chart this week in the unenviable -10 category. Campbell in Edmonton and Kaapo Kahkonen in San Jose are thankfully both being balanced out (at least a little in the San Jose case) by the other netminder(s) in their organization. San Jose has struggled with injuries, in particular to Reimer this season, and Kahkonen has not been able to hold down the fort in his absence.

Things have been noticeably worse for the Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings, who have gotten generally nothing from both of their goalies. Thatcher Demko and Spencer Martin have both been awful for the Canucks this year, and Demko in particular has been a big issue for the Canucks, at one point seen to be the future in the crease for the team.

Los Angeles has continued to be at the bottom of the chart, struggling to get saves all season long. And while Phoenix Copley has been good for the team in a small workload, having Cal Petersen in the AHL now and relying on a nearly 37-year-old Jonathan Quick is not a recipe for success.

Oilers goalies continue to see wide disparity in results

Once again Stuart Skinner has been the pride of the Pacific Division. He has been far and away the best goalie in the entire division, and the only netminder with a 10+ GSAx this season. Nobody in the division is close to touching him at this point, and he deserves to be high in the Calder race this season.

This is a problem for the team, who have paid Jack Campbell $5M a season for the next five years. It is hard to think of the Oilers moving this contract, not only because of the contract, but because they acquired him on the back of the team struggling for years without a bona-fide NHL starting netminder. The team desperately needs to get Campbell going even if that means giving Skinner a bit of a reprieve from the net, and even if that means the team struggles a bit on the scoresheet.

However for a team fighting for a playoff spot closing in on the midway point of the season, it’s hard to see them going this route anytime soon. It will be a big disaster if the Oilers do not make the playoffs this season even if that gets Campbell going. The team needs to be a playoff team every year that they have Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on their lineup come hell or high water. Whatever is ailing Campbell, the Oilers need to figure it out and figure it out fast.

Stay tuned each week for the latest goaltending GSAx updates!

Previous weeks:

Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10

Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire

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