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Statistical analysis: Which 22-year-old goalie gives the Caps the best chance to win?

Statistical analysis

Before training camp began, many thought Semyon Varlamov, despite having an injury-plagued 2009-10 season that limited him to only 26 regular season games, would be the front-runner to mind the net for the Washington Capitals. That may have changed when the club signed Michal Neuvirth to a two-year extension worth $2.3 million. In what is sure to be a back-and-forth battle most of the season, the question is: Which 22-year-old netminder gives the Caps the best chance to win?

Despite the small sample size of NHL games, a quick look at the stats show there is a close race to be the Caps' No. 1 option in net. Varlamov brings the credibility of the 2009 NHL playoffs with a respectable .911 save percentage and 2.52 goals against average over 32 games at the NHL level. Neuvirth has led the AHL's Hershey Bears to consecutive Calder Cup championships while posting a .910 save percentage and 2.80 goals against average in his 22 NHL starts.

To gain better insight into those numbers, we can use Quality Starts to measure which young goaltender did his job of stopping shots, independent of whether or not the Caps' offense scored enough goals for them to win the game. A team will win approximately 70 percent of games in which its goalie has a Quality Start.

A goaltender is considered to have a Quality Start under one of two conditions:

  1. His save percentage in the game is higher than the median save percentage for the league, which was .913 in 2008-9 and .917 in 2009-10.
  2. His save percentage is at least .885 AND he gives up less than three goals in the game.

Looking at the Quality Start metric for Varlamov and Neuvirth over the past two NHL seasons, we start to see some separation:

GoalieQuality StartsNon-Quality StartsQS%

Not only has Neuvirth given the Caps a better percentage of quality, but he also did it against stiffer competition: Five out of 11 (45 percent) of his Quality Starts came against eventual playoff teams, while only three out of Varlamov's 16 (19 percent) were against playoff-bound teams. Plus Neuvirth had the added pressure of four of his Quality Starts coming during the Caps' 14-game win streak.

The question of "Team Varly or Team Neuvy?" will take time to answer, but so far, Neuvirth looks like he has earned the right to be the Caps' top choice in net to start the season. And if his contract extension is any indication, the Caps may agree.

Neil Greenberg became interested in the mathematical side of sports in 1990, when he discovered Bill James and his statistical analysis of baseball. Over the past few years, he discovered a similar community focused around hockey and started to apply those methods to the Caps in an attempt to better understand the game. Neil also writes for Russian Machine Never Breaks, and you can follow him on Twitter here.

By Neil Greenberg  | September 26, 2010; 5:37 PM ET
Categories:  Michal Neuvirth, Semyon Varlamov, Statistical analysis  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Capitals defeat Predators, 2-1
Next: Another round of Caps cuts on the way


this is what happens when you have some geek who has too much time on his hand play with numbers... quality starts?

Greenberg, any relation to Mike Greenberg?

THIS is hockey, NOT starting pitching in baseball!!!

Posted by: joek443 | September 26, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Comments like the one above are why people have moved to JapersRink.

Good analysis Mr. Greenberg.

Posted by: GMUCAPS | September 26, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Seriously - we're not in 8th grade. Calling someone a geek . . .

Pretty sure geeks rule the world. It's called being an adult.

Posted by: stevie_in_gp | September 26, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

The question of "Team Varly or Team Neuvy?" will take time to answer, but so far, Neuvirth looks like he has earned the right to be the Caps' top choice in net to start the season. And if his contract extension is any indication, the Caps may agree.

This more than anything proves that he has NO idea what he's talking about. I doubt very seriously that he has ever watched either one of these guys actually play a full game. All this guys looks at is STATS.

Neuvy may become the number one goalie on this team at some point but NOBODY in their right mind can say that he has earned the right to be the number one goalie on this team right now.

Number one goalie is the one who gets the most of the ice time in the playoffs and Neuvy has yet to play a single minute in the post season

Posted by: joek443 | September 26, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Also as far as the contract situation, I'm sure in his mind, Varly believes he's the number one goalie on this team and justifiably so. Which means he wants more than $2.3M for two years.

tbe fact that Neuvy signed the extension has nothing to do with the confidence the team has for either one of them.

Posted by: joek443 | September 26, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

this stat reminds me of the QB ratings in football...

according to that stat Dave Krieg is a better QB than John Elway!!!

Posted by: joek443 | September 26, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

I have watched Neuvy do some amazing things in the playoffs. Don't sell him short Joek443... He is going to be the more steady goalie. Not much bothers him. And he is the more technically sound goalie between him and Varly.

Posted by: jbears1 | September 26, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse


Yes, all he is looking at is stats - read the headline: Statistical analysis. In case you don't know what statistics mean, it simply means a branch of mathematics dealing with the collection, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of masses of numerical data. Thus, it doesn't involve actually observing the subjects in question and consequently making a subjective observation. If you would like a subjective observation or evaluation, please skip the columns and read the comments section. For us stat lovers, this is a great read.
Thanks Neil, nice work

Posted by: jakopz | September 26, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

hey jbears1,

I'm not selling anyone short. I said Neuvy may become the better goalie between the two.

but you gotta question the insanity of anyone who says that Neuvy has EARNED THE RIGHT to become the number one goalie right now.

Posted by: joek443 | September 26, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

You're such an ignorant fool if you think Neil's never seen either goalie play. I'm sorry his opinion does not mirror your own, but his opinion is grounded in as much fact as yours is. I personally disagree with him and prefer Varlamov for his size and NHL experience, but Neuvirth is a flat out warrior, and he's got a great character for the position that I think, in the end, could be better in the playoffs.

I hope each goalie gets a good look in the regular season so we dont get another overly rapid goalie switch in the playoffs yet again.

Posted by: zeile_d | September 26, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

hey jakopz,

I'm saying this stat is CRAP, about as useless as the Caps' record on any particular day of the week.

Posted by: joek443 | September 26, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Also, he's won 2 championships in the AHL. Sure, they're not Stanley Cups, but he's competed for and subsequently earned championships. That's more than Varlamov.

Posted by: zeile_d | September 26, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse

hey @joek443 Im pretty sure not only has he seen them both play numerous televised games , he's also seen them play live..... how do I know this? cause we were at the same game....
you know what they say when you ASSUME something

Posted by: green52fan1 | September 26, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse


Every time you post you prove your ignorance. Keep it up.

Posted by: jeets | September 26, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

hey zeile_d,

for this team Varly is the better fit. Neuvy's style is more suited for a better defensive team than the Caps.

This team hangs their goalie out to dry like a readheaded step-child.

Posted by: joek443 | September 26, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Nice story.

Posted by: ahorne1982 | September 26, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

hey green52fan1,

if he's seen them play and still says Neuvy has earned the right to be the number one goalie then he's more clueless than I first thought.

Posted by: joek443 | September 26, 2010 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Dude if you don't like his analysis then simply don't read them....

Posted by: green52fan1 | September 26, 2010 6:34 PM | Report abuse

have you applied for the GM job yet as I advised?

Posted by: jeets | September 26, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Dude if you don't like his analysis then simply don't read them....

how would I know that before I actually read it??

you sound about as coherent as Greenberg's analysis.

Posted by: joek443 | September 26, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse


do you really have nothing better to do this afternoon??

Posted by: green52fan1 | September 26, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Joek443 - here is the clue

"Statistical analysis: Which 22-year-old goalie gives the Caps the best chance to win?"

Nuff said...

Posted by: jbears1 | September 26, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

yeah, I'm watching the same ole' Deadskins losing to the Rams!!!

Posted by: joek443 | September 26, 2010 6:47 PM | Report abuse

I feel like I've read something exactly like this before. Oh wait, I have ...

Posted by: washcapsfan1 | September 26, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Has anybody else noticed that the team plays better defense when neuvy is in net? Just something I've noticed. Wondering if anyone else feels that way.

Posted by: Dizruption | September 26, 2010 6:51 PM | Report abuse

jbears1 - here's a clue

So far Greenberg's stats say Jeff Schultz is the better D-man than Chris Pronger and Neuvy has earned the right to become the number one goalie for the Caps.

wonder what stat he'll come up with next week..."The Caps are better than the '80's Oilers" maybe???

Posted by: joek443 | September 26, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

BMCAT regardless of what is going on Joey...

Posted by: jbears1 | September 26, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse

@joek443 - As a personal friend of Mr. Greenberg, I can assure you that he has watched many, many Caps games, in person, and I find your assertation that he doesn't know what he's talking about extremely insulting. I am greatly offended by your words, and will repeat what many have said: if you don't like statistical analysis, don't read it.

As for Michal Neuvirth, I let his record with the Caps - and the Bears - both teams I have watched repeatedly over the last few years - stand. "No playoff experience?" I assume you mean no NHL playoff experience, as you're talking about the Calder Cup MVP from the 2008-09 season, and the #1 goaltender in Hershey in 2009-10 when he wasn't minding the net in Washington.

You, sir, are the joke. Get over yourself.

Posted by: irockthered | September 26, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Redskins stink up the joint against one of the worst teams in the NFL, playing without their only proven offensive threat (Steven Jackson) for most of the game. Another 4-12 season coming up for Danny's boys.

Thank God for the Caps!

Posted by: zmega | September 26, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Comments like the one above are why people have moved to JapersRink.

Good analysis Mr. Greenberg.

like i said, someone keeps pissing in joke443's cereal every morning.

Posted by: MNMNT | September 26, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

I always find it funny when people see stats that don't support their viewpoint and then go ahead and say "those stats are stupid" as a way of somehow trying to dismiss the stats to try to prove to themselves that they were correct with their initial viewpoint. They refuse to believe that their initial viewpoint may have been incorrect or may not have seen the entire picture.

Statistics are not 100% but they do give an unbiased viewpoint at a situation. That's why it's good to look at a variety of different statistics and see if they support a point of view. The statistics exist for a reason, trying to figure out what exactly they mean is what's important.

Dismissing statistics as "stupid" is the reaction of a 5-year old child who refuses to believe they may have been incorrect.

Posted by: sgm3 | September 26, 2010 8:13 PM | Report abuse

hey irockthered,

how did Jim Carey do in the NHL playoffs after his sterling career with the Portland Pirates???

Posted by: joek443 | September 26, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

hey sgm3,

NOT all the stats are the same... some are useful and some are simply useless.

Some stats like the QB ratings in the NFL say Dave Krieg is a better QB than John Elway.

Anyone who has actually watched those guys play would disagree... even the biggest Dave Krieg fan would dare say he was better than John Elway!!!

Posted by: joek443 | September 26, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

hey sgm3,

NOT all the stats are the same... some are useful and some are simply useless.

Some stats like the QB ratings in the NFL say Dave Krieg is a better QB than John Elway.

Anyone who has actually watched those guys play would disagree... NOT even the biggest Dave Krieg fan would dare say he was better than John Elway!!!

Posted by: joek443 | September 26, 2010 8:20 PM | Report abuse

joke you are correct not all stats are the same. Here is a stat for you though....

Posts by joek443, alias joke.....myriad

Intelligent posts by same

Posted by: fromthebeginning | September 26, 2010 9:05 PM | Report abuse

joke you are correct not all stats are the same. Here is a stat for you though....

Posts by joek443, alias joke.....myriad

Intelligent posts by same

Posted by: fromthebeginning | September 26, 2010 9:06 PM | Report abuse

sorry for double post...dang work comp

Posted by: fromthebeginning | September 26, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse


I don't believe Greenberg posted anything comparing Schultz to Pronger in his statistical analysis. That was me, and I am certainly not Neil Greenberg.

Nor did I actually say that Schultz was better than Pronger, just that there were a significant number less goals scored while Schultz was on the ice compared to when Pronger was on the ice.

Also, after Carey's stellar 1 season with Portland, he followed that up by winning the Vezina trophy in the NHL, to answer your question.

And I am not convinced that your premise that Varlamov's style fits this team better is true. If the analysis that most people have of the Caps team is true in that the team has troubles against teams with a strong forecheck that can get extended pressure on the Caps Defensive Zone, they really need a guy who will always be in position, no matter where the shots come from, rather than a guy who can get out of position and be constantly scrambling to recover and not be ready to cover the shot from the guy who the D left by himself on the back door.

I think that is more of a problem than needing a guy who can make that flashy save. But that is just my opinion.

Posted by: piratusus | September 26, 2010 9:09 PM | Report abuse


I understand your point. Maybe its too soon to make a call, thats why they'll be dueling all year.

But take it easy on the stats analysis. I agree stats dont tell the whole story but in my many years, I've found personally and professionally that numbers dont lie.

Galileo had some numbers that argued against the consensus that the earth was flat...he lost his head but turned out to be right...I think

Posted by: justbrewit | September 26, 2010 9:22 PM | Report abuse

In reality I don't know that either tender has done enough to "cement" the #1 spot. I think the nod goes to Varly because he's played more games and more importantly the majority of the past 2 playoffs. I don't believe at all this business of "x" goalie is better suited to our style of play etc. IF healthy Varly is the better more athletic goalie. Neuvy is very solid and steady. Two different types of goalies but Varly has shown the ability to make the highlight reel saves and Neuvy just hasn't yet. I'm not saying he hasn't made any really really nice stops because he has but Varly has played more and has had more of an opportunity against NHL talent not AHL talent.

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | September 26, 2010 9:30 PM | Report abuse

There's no need to completely trash the guy - it's interesting to look at these numbers.

That said, I think the sample size is way too small to be drawing conclusions off the differences in percentages.

Posted by: CF11555 | September 26, 2010 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Since when has there been quality starts in hockey?!

Bash me all you want but I agree with joek.

First of all, its a small sample size. 28 starts for Varly and 16 for Neuvy, you need to see more starts from these guys in the NHL for these statistics to be relevant.

It also unfair to compare Neuvy's success in the ahl to varlys in the nhl. Id much rather take Varly right now because he has proved himself in the playoffs.

I like the Neuvy signing because Varly has shown he is injury prone.

It is clearly Varlamov's job right now, and his to lose.

Posted by: digster1013 | September 26, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

I'm just glad the Caps have them both signed.

Posted by: FloridaCapsFan | September 26, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

@Floridacapsfan - true but I don't see both of them being with us for the long haul. Both will be/are starting goalies in this league and whoever is the backup will be dealt at some point. The backup will be too valuable as an asset and get too much in return to keep them both. That will be a good problem to have over the next 2-3 yrs.

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | September 26, 2010 10:40 PM | Report abuse

The battle for #1 goalie may well last more than one year (unless we hoist the Cup next June). Consider the last time this happened with the battle between Olie Kolzig and Byron Dafoe. As I recall, a lot of people favored Dafoe because Kolzig was too inconsistent. Ultimately, Olie distinguished himself and Dafoe found his way to the Bruins where he had good success for a period of time. I think it is too soon to tell which of these goalies (if either) can take the Capitals to the Promised Land.

As far as the stats go, I enjoy the analysis. Sometimes they reveal things hidden to the subjective eye. I look forward to the future articles.

How about this stat for consideration...shot on goal differential? I saw that article and the results blew me away.

Posted by: bill_in_damascus | September 26, 2010 10:40 PM | Report abuse

I believe joek has a good point on this.

But, he has such a rude way of expressing himself.

Anyway, I found the stats interesting, but I also remember Varly has a better won-lost record. I few weeks back I was discussing a similar type argument and I compared Nolan Ryan to Jack Morris. Ryan had incredible stats but in his career won only one post-season game, in relief, in the NLCS, for the Mets in 1969. Morros OTOH always won when it counted.

The above stats seem to show Neuvy is better, so why is Varly's won-loss better? And didn't Varly have a better save percentage last year.

Maybe I can make a point that joek443 was rudely trying to make, and that is you can always use some of the stats to support any argument you want.

joek, I don't know what someone did to you when you were a kid, but it really seems like it messed you up for life. Get over it, please.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | September 26, 2010 11:07 PM | Report abuse

Another point in this article that I disagree with it the "meaning" of Neuvy signing the contract. I had posted, not that I mean anything at all, but in my spreadsheet for 2011-12 cap, I had put Neuvy at $1M and Varly at $3M. I had also written that they would get about $4M between them, so if an injury or something, one goes up and the other goes down. I saw the Halak contract (which is high for having two UFA years) and the Niemi and so forth. Now, I ASSUMED Varly is the starter-to-lose the job based on who got the call in last two playoffs. Plus, from my stats (W-L record), Varly is better. And, he has a huge ego from what I can tell. So, I ASSUMED it would easier to sign Neuvy since he would be getting, likely, back-up money and because Varly thinks he's going to be the next Roy and wants to be as such.

Signing Neuvy was easy, just like signing Poti was easy. Neuvy knows he's #2 for now, but he'll try to become #1, and, either way, the money ain't bad.

Varly though will likely be the #1 and that means signing him will be harder. GM probably wants him to take the same deal, and the only word in response will be "Nyet."

btw, struggler, thanks for that d-man data. I think it shows maybe we should cut Green and Schultz some slack, but I usually do, I've never bashed either, and even put company G and S in the Doofus Brigade for Green and Schultz bashers. That said, we still need a physicality in our D that we don't now have. I don't care what the stats say, we need that element to win 16 playoff games.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | September 26, 2010 11:17 PM | Report abuse

This would be an appropriate question to ask in April with a meaningful and relevant sample size.

Posted by: TCJR2000 | September 26, 2010 11:57 PM | Report abuse

@Tom - yes Joke probably had a rough childhood so it kinda makes ya feel sorry for the guy in a way.

I too was shocked that he was making a valid point. A blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while I guess.

I have done some research Tom that I think you'll be interested in. It's just a matter of me taking the time to type it up now. Also I sent you an email regarding the trip and some other things.

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | September 27, 2010 12:08 AM | Report abuse


I agree completely with your well thought out post. My big concern with anyone touting Neuvy as the better option for our starting goaltender is his lack of NHL experience. He came up when the Caps were hot on a record breaking level. The whole team was playing really well and that had to have an effect on how his numbers looked. And I'm not sure how someone with a worse save percentage has a higher percentage of quality starts when that is 1 of 2 determining factors. The other being whether he gave up more than 3 in a game. That makes it seem as though Varly has faced a higher number of shots and has a higher save percentage, and if that were true then yes, joek,this particular stat is ineffective in grading goalies.

I can remember two games being huge outliers for Varly last season, the 3rd period of the first Toronto game and his first game back from injury against the Sens. Other than that I thought he was consitent and very good. I can't think of any outliers for Neuvy, making him more consitent but with a lower ceiling. And I haven't had any problem with how Varly has performed in the playoffs when the pressure was on, the jury is still out with Neuvy on that regard.

And on a side note, Neuvy needs to take a new picture that they use in NHL11 and on telecasts, he looks like he's confused and doesn't understand what a camera does.

Give Neuvy some time in the NHL before we annoint him the better option. But I think that every Caps fan would agree that whichever one wins us a Cup is the better option.

Posted by: GreenerLife | September 27, 2010 12:09 AM | Report abuse

GreenerLife: How could I possibly disagree at all with a post that starts out by telling me my post was well thought out?

Bottom line is what Varly did in '09 playoffs trumps anything else either of them has done, AHL, Jrs, KHL, whatever. Varly is #1 FOR NOW.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | September 27, 2010 12:40 AM | Report abuse


You expressed my opinion better than I could. It's hard to take the author seriously when it's clear his stats were selected to support a predetermined point of view. Any comparison between the two that highlights Varly's injury history with no mention of Neuvy's three injuries in his first full season in Hershey is biased. Also, were these "quality starts" against teams that had trouble scoring or were missing key players? Were the Caps missing key players? There are too many variables to draw a conclusion. At the end of the day, I don't care if it's Varly, Neuvy, or Toskala in net as long as the Caps win the Cup.

Posted by: ablake70 | September 27, 2010 1:30 AM | Report abuse

After seeing what the deadskins did in the gateway city, I am very happy that the Caps make the playoffs every year and they have a very good chance for the Cup (as good as any team in the NHL). Now go get that rugged, skating blueliner GMGM!

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS1 | September 27, 2010 6:19 AM | Report abuse

Geez people especially Joe. You need to work on your English skills.

Neil wrote "LOOKS LIKE " Neuvy has earned the right to start and that the Caps "MAY" agree. He used conditional clauses.

I realize that numbers freaks some people out but really statistical analysis is a crucial element to all sports, and there is no need to overstate what Neil wrote. He merely underscored why management is confident in Neuvy. In no way did he suggest that management had lost confidence Varly. We got ourselves a bang-up competition between the two and we have to wait and see who takes the top spot.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | September 27, 2010 7:51 AM | Report abuse

Before I even begin this post I would just like to say I have no stats to back this up, it is just my opinion......

After watching all of these goaltenders for numerous years now I have to say that I believe Neuvy will have the longer and steadier career in the NHL than Varly. Varly relies entirely too much on his athleticism and will continue to injure himself and beat his body to a pulp IMO. Neuvy on the other hand relies on positioning and therefore doesn't have to kill himself to make the same save that Varly would.

This all being said I think that Holtby is the ultimate future number one for this team. He has the positioning, athleticism (not as much as Varly for sure though) and a bit of a mean streak that just makes me think he is the next Kolzig for this team. Like I said, no stats to back this up......just a feeling I have and just my opinion.

Posted by: PhilR | September 27, 2010 8:09 AM | Report abuse

@tominsocal - interesting post, but what has lead you to believe that Varly has a huge ego, and how do you determine it is ego rather than trying to show confidence (or false bravado) that is a general characteristic of most #1 goalies?

Posted by: ds_kelly | September 27, 2010 8:40 AM | Report abuse

@joek443 - I would hardly call one year with Portland a "sterling career." Less than one year, really, as the 1995-96 season was split between Portland and Washington, and Portland finished that season 46-22. While Portland did make the finals, they lost to Rochester. Since 1995-96 was Carey's only season with Portland, it's not comparable to Neuvirth, who has had the time to properly develop himself at the AHL level, and has nothing more to prove there, having won two Calder Cups in a row.

The Caps have a lot of talent in net. Time will tell who comes out the #1 goalie; I personally see a 1-1A tandem, rather than a clear #1. IF Varlamov doesn't get hurt again.

Posted by: irockthered | September 27, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Woo woo, finally get to see a preseason game tomorrowwwwwwwww. F U Comcast...yay season tix.

Less than 2 weeks before our season opener....OH YEAH!

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | September 27, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

ds_kelly: My impression of Varly re: ego is from comments you read, that he makes, he has a real self-assurance. Maybe that isn't "ego," at least not in a bad way, but it gives me the impression he feels he will be a top goalie and then would want that money. Some of it is reading between the lines.

I have no stats to back that up. :)

Posted by: tominsocal1 | September 27, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Whew though. Today’s posters were particularly ignorant and inflammatory. Although I don’t know why I was surprised. There is a group at CI that foams at the mouth whenever statistical analysis is discussed. They are of the school that hockey unlike every other sport in the world should somehow be immune from statistical analysis. And today they needed work on their reading comprehension as well.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns on Japers Rink

I'm so glad you took the time to enlighten the ignorant posters on this blog! LOL! Mr. Greenberg started with an opinion, cherry-picked a stat to support his opinion and now we should all realize that it is fact. I thought the purpose of stats was to draw a conclusion from the available numbers, but now I know I can just throw out the ones that don't support my position. Thank you, oh knowledgeable one!

You know what I think is ignorant? Someone taking comments from this blog and posting them on another just to prove how smart they are. I may not agree with all the posters here, but at least I have the courtesy to keep the discussion here instead of ridiculing them on another blog like some grade schooler.

Posted by: ablake70 | September 27, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Nice to see so many Caps fans drooling for the beggining of the season. I'd be happy for either goalie from a political standpoint. Just want to get the puck moving. Sick of football already, pro basketball sucks and baseball is over. Yes, I'm a Washington homeboy, or I wouldn't be sick of the Redskins already. The hype never matches up, so bring on a team that we know is ready. Let's Go Caps!

Posted by: coastallp74 | September 27, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

"but Varly has shown the ability to make the highlight reel saves and Neuvy just hasn't yet. "

True, but goaltending can be like IT support - the highlight reel saves that impress so many managers (or fans) are often really evidence of poor preparation.

Posted by: zimbar | September 27, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

"but Varly has shown the ability to make the highlight reel saves and Neuvy just hasn't yet. "

The ONLYreason for that is cause that is varlys style of play.reckless.So he has to make that highlight reel save cause he puts himself in that situation or position i should say to have to make the big save when in reality most of his big saves could be made by a regular style save by a more poise goaltender. i.e,neuvy! Neuvy has way better poise and rebound control and better positioning than varly.thats why neuvy hasnt made to many highlight reel save cause he doesnt put himself out of position to have to make it look spectacular.
I have been sayn this since day one when i was at the game where neuvy played his first start in tampa and have always stuck by feeling that neuvy will be the caps' #1 goalie.I do like varly and i'm not taking anything away from him,its gonna be a great battle for the top spot but i have to say i'm with team neuvy.But no matter who it is i'm in total support of em and know the caps have a bright future in goal!GO CAPS!!!

Posted by: gratefuldid | September 27, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Those stats may be an interesting read but I don't think they tell the whole story on a goalie. Not everyone is going to agree with such a statical analysis and I would hope that the writer of the blog had some clue that he was not going to receive all glowing comments before volunteering to write a blog for the Washington Post. Don't see the need for people who know the blogger to have to jump to the blogger's defense or be insulted if someone questions the blogger's opinion. Agree with ablake70 that if you don't agree with the comments at CI then post it here. I read but rarely post at that other blog as I do find that there is a somewhat holier than thou attitude there.

Posted by: NovaCath1 | September 27, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Good god, not this guy again. His last article was a bore fest and this one is even worse.

Posted by: madflava | September 28, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

The biggest issue is one you admit- a small sample size. With Theodore your starting goaltender for most of last season these numbers are hard to quantify. If they split duties this year you will have a larger sample size.

Washington is brutally difficult to quantify because their GVT numbers are so off-the-charts (because they scored so many more goals than any other team- a nice "problem" to have that a lot of teams would like to have!) over last season or factoring in GVT numbers of the opposition.

You can also weigh how many lead changing goals each gave up (that tied the game or broke a tie). In other words, a goal conceded in a 1-1 game carries more weight than one when a team is up 5-1.

You also need to look at how much support each goaltender received. If goaltender A gets over 3.5 goals/game support and goaltender B gets 2.5 goals/game of support you have to factor this in.

The save percentages are aribtrary; if a team doesn't get that many pucks on the net (either blocked or missed) you're punishing a goaltender because the other team doesn't shoot as much.

Other things you don't look at:

-Stolen wins (typically where the goaltender wins the game with a save percentage higher than .950/.960); Halak had at least three of these last year in the playoff series.
-Save percentage at even strength, on the PP, and shorthanded (see above).

The statistical breakout is a good component but you can't use one single metric, but it's a nice starting point.

Hockey insiders (and math using a pythagorean breakdown) will ultimately tell you that goal differential is the single biggest factor in determining a team's success over an 82-game regular season.

Posted by: jcurrin | September 28, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

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