Thursday, May 6, 2010

Rank the Goalies

Barry Melrose said this morning on ESPN radio that he thought, of all the teams remaining in the playoffs, Boston was playing the best.  He is clearly expressing his opinion and most opinions have validity at some level.  Unfortunately, Barry's doesn't.

San Jose has won six games in a row after being down 2-1 in the first round against Colorado.  Pittsburgh is 6-2 after losing their opening playoff game to Ottawa.  While Boston has won four games in a row, three were on home ice, and the last three wins have come against a seventh-seeded Philadelphia Flyer team that is missing Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne and is backstopped by Brian Boucher.  In the first round they beat a Buffalo team whose leading goal scorer missed three of the six games.  Yes Boston is playing well, but there has to be some grade for degree of difficulty--even if it isn't the Bruins' fault.  I think you can make an airtight case that at least two teams are playing better at the moment.

Now that I've skewered Mr. Melrose for his stance, I'll take one of my own.  Feel free to begin the skewering.  Here is my ranking of the eight goalies that are left in the playoffs.  This isn't based on stats.  It also isn't necessarily a reflection of how far a guy's team is going to go in the playoffs.  It's the order I would take the netminders FOR THE REST OF THIS YEAR'S PLAYOFFS, all playing with an equivalent team.

  • 8.  Brian Boucher (Flyers): He tries hard.  It's nice he won a playoff series for the first time since 2000.  At 33 he's unlikely to ever be back this way again.
  • 7.  Roberto Luongo (Canucks): He won a gold medal with Canada, but he's never gotten past the second round of the playoffs.  He is the most overrated player in the NHL.
  • 6.  Jimmy Howard (Red Wings): The 26 year-old rookie had a great regular season, but the playoff stage looks a little too big for him at the moment.
  • 5.  Evgeni Nabokov (Sharks): Another who has never risen to the occasion in past playoffs.  He was a sieve when it mattered in the Olympics.  Why will it change now?
  •  4.  Tuuka Rask (Bruins): I'm sure Bruins fans wouldn't trade him for anyone on this list (they aren't so smart to begin with though).  At 23 he may have actually been the best goalie in the league this year although his name isn't in the converstaion because his team was terrible most of the season.  He's the reason they are in the playoffs.
  •  3.   Jaroslav Halak (Canadiens):  See above.  Flip a coin.
  •  2.  Marc-Andre Fleury:  Proven winner.  Only Cup holder in the group.
  •  1.  Antti Niemi (Blackhawks): The other 26 year-old rookie also had a big regular season, seizing the starting job from Cristobal Huet.  He's a wild card, but he reminds me of a young Dominik Hasek, who got his first playoff taste with the Hawks back in 1992.  He's the only goalie with two shutouts so far this playoff season.  I just don't think he knows better.
That's my list.  I think it is interesting that the West may have three of the four best remaining teams, but only one of the four best remaining goalies.  I think we'll see numbers 1 & 2 in the Final, but not just because of their goalies.


Backtofoulke said...

This post is hilarious ..... one part ESPN chat regurgitation and one part a commerical for The 412. Did Scott Burnside consult on this? ( I think that 3 of 4 best teams are out west was lifted directly from a chat I read yesterday.)

This sentence is my favorite: "At 23 he may have actually been the best goalie in the league this year although his name isn't in the converstaion because his team was terrible most of the season. He's the reason they are in the playoffs." His name isn't in what conversation? This conversation? The Vezina conversation? I think among the 1693 people in North America who get the Center Ice Package, he is being discussed.

*Let's be honest here, 6-3 against Ottawa and Montreal is not exactly 6-3versus Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany. And when do you just get to throw out losses that don't support your thesis. "I'll just throw out that first Ottawa loss as an anomaly and start my data set at game two."

*The winner is a guy who reminds you of Dom Hasek? He's 8th in playoff GAA and 7th in save % so what exactly is the resemblance? Height?

Thats all for now ......

The Hammer said...

Thanks for taking the time to comment. Now take the time to read. Melrose was discussing hottest teams right now. Now is most recently. Ergo I took the most recent games.

And while I appreciate your plagiarism charge, even a Boston fan can realize that the lowest seed in the west is a fifth and the second-highest in the east is a sixth. Just by seeding it would suggest that three of the best four teams are out west. See if you can follow the logic.

And yea it would be the Vezina conversation. I figured you could follow that too. I'll be sure to bang you over the head with a Louisville Slugger next time to bang the point home. Seeing as you abandoned the Bruins for the previous ten years I thought I'd use a baseball term to make it easier for you.

Back to Foulke said...

I was very careful to use the word regurgitate instead of plagerize as I didn't want to levy such a strong charge. But let the readers judge:

From Tuesday's Burnside chat:
"But you are right in that all four teams left in the Western Conference right now are probably at the very least on a par with Pittsburgh, the top seed remaining in the Eastern Conference, if not ahead."

I apologize for claiming you reurgitated. I should have just left it at Burnside-esque.

Ergo? You didn't take the most recent. You took the most recent "eight" that fit your argument. Not nine and not three. You tossed the low (game one Ottawa) and ignored Pitt's game two loss. Let's compress the sample to just three games because what we care about is now. Pitt is 2-1 and Bos is 3-0. That seems like a better sample, right? Or is eight the perfect number?

I didn't abandon the Bruins. To abandon implies I was there in the first place. I was never there. And I am only faking it now. To prove it, I posted 2300 words on the Red Sox and baseball today and couldn't find even 200 words for last night's Bruin victory.

Thank you!

Happy Chappy said...

Just look at the point spread. I'm not sure what planet Backtofoulke is on.

I thought the post was hilarious, too. But I'm not being cynical or sarcastic when I say that. Everyone looks at the absolute stats, but never looks at the stats that matter -- adjusting saves by degree of difficulty or saves that matter given series record, etc. The Hammer did that.

Now as for the plagiarism charge, what the f*$! was that about. You repeat a quote and then don't compare it to something anyone's read or cares about? It's a fricking blog post. Hammer knows his stuff and is in the conversation, but he's got his tongue firmly planted in cheak as opposed to his head up his shine hole. Bring it on!

Now my one beef with you, Hammer, is your ranking of Naby. Disclaimer - I'm a Shark fan from the South Bay. Unfortunately he's the weak link now that Patty, Heater and big Joe (the new, cool Joe ... Pavs that is, not Thornton) have their game back. I think you're being overly generous by ranking him so high. I'd put him 7 at best, and not just because of his olympics performance. He gave up a 3 goal lead in the second game and we've had to come from behind in the last two games. The Sharks are finally winning in spite of/not because of their goal tending. Worries me as we get past the wings and probably have to face Niemi and Fleury if we can keep our game going and can get past the Hawks (my prediction is they beat the Cannucks in 6 or 7).

The Hammer said...

I'm pretty sure saying "that 3 of the 4 best teams are out west was lifted" implies that I "lifted" it. Lifted=lifted. But, since you know I don't read Burnside I'll assume you're just bustin my chops.

As for the games, I just took each teams' best and most recent streak. Different for each team. But, good to know the Boston police are on the case.

Hopefully the Pens and Bruins will get to settle it on the ice--like '91 and '92.

Doug said...


You've got wonderful kin, but the Pens' success in 2009 is a shabby metric for Fleury in 2010. If tallies of past Cups was the best metric for the remaining goalies, you'd have to put Chris Osgood at the top of the list. But you don't because that would be silly. So is your promotion of Fleury.

In reality, Fleury has been a C student this postseason, as his .897 save pct on a measly 243 shots should have made manifest to you. By contrast, Halak is .933 on 314 shots and Rask: .928 on 290. A little research would have gone a long way, my man.

And lay off Barry. His mullet and shaggy goat should be more than enough to command your respect, even if you're probably right that he is overrating my beloved B's.

ThereItIsJake said...

Enjoyed the post but Fleury and Niemi are mediocre goalies playing on high-scoring teams.

I do agree that Luongo is ridiculously overrated, though he did save the Canucks in Round 1 with huge saves at the start of the 3rd period of Game 4, when a loss would've put Vancouver on the brink. Having said that, I think his problem is he can't stand pressure. He was tight in the Olympics anytime Canada played a quality squad. He's great when they play mediocrity.

At this point, I would take Halak, then Rask, then throw the rest in a hopper and just pick them out randomly, except for Boucher who I wouldnt take at all, I'd just go with an empty net.

Happy Chappy said...

Hammer - you should revisit your ranking of Naby. Five fricking goals on 9 shots in the first 10 minutes. Absolutely attrocious. "Throw out the tape and start over" like McLellan said. Not to take anything away from Franzen or the Wings, but you can't win a cup with that kind of play in net. Hopefully the Sharks can get their offense working again on Saturday.

Pens fan in Chicago said...

Hammer... I hope to see you back in Chicago for the Cup finals... Thanks for the beer at the Billy Goat... Tough loss for the Hawks, but I think your #1 ranked goalie will bounce back and win game 6... Where do you go after the game? Go Pens!