To take a break from the trade-deadline hoopla, I wanted to just touch on easily the best Ranger this season, Henrik Lundqvist. He's a Vezina candidate, and the likely favorite if the voting was for some reason to be this afternoon. But with my updates on the team metrics, I keep saying he's due for a natural slide simply because of the unbelievable level that he's playing at:
I won't beat this topic up, but all I have to say if the season ended now his save percentage (0.941) would be the highest of the post-lockout Vezina winners. He's due for a natural slide (even down to a HORRIBLE 0.930), but if you want some more quick info go back to the last metrics piece and read the first few paragraphs.
Now I won't lie, I don't know as much about Goaltending advanced statistics and their applications as I do about Forward-skating stats. For all-things goalies, please visit the fantastic blog Brodeur Is A Fraud, if only for the title itself. What I have learned about goaltending statistics, and which I applied to Lundqvist, is the following:
1) Sample Sizes are VERY important to evaluating a goaltender. I think its something like the first 60-100 games of a goalies career is basically useless. Quick examples off the top of my head? James Reimer (chart from Mirtle) and on the flip (good) side, Carey Price.
2) While Save% is far from perfect, it is like all other averages (like Shot%) with a decent sample size, it has highs, lows, and will regresses to its mean. I feel as though predicting and scouting a young goaltender is extremely difficult, so by applying some logic (good team, bad team?) and the usage of historical Save%, at least we have a better idea of what's going on.
So, will King Henrik falter in March and April (AND BEYOND??)? Good news, I'm starting to think I might be wrong... sort of.
So far through February, Lundqvist is posting a 0.953 Save percentage. Absurd, even if only for eight games. Basically I wanted to look at two things. First off, Lundqvists' season-by-season and month-by-month trends in his save percentages, and then his year by year Even-Strength and Penalty Kill save percentages Luckily, this is easily found on hockey-reference.com and NHL.com, I just had to throw it together.
First up, the season-by-season and month-by-month. It's messy, because I'm lazy, but just concentrate on the two black trend-lines.
(click to enlarge)
Besides a couple of real anomalies, Hank sticks between .910 and .930 on a month-by-month basis, which confirms that he's a decent and proven goalie. The bottom black line is Lundqvist's career 2-month moving average, and what it says moving forward is that from Feb. to March he stays about the same and from March to April he sees a slight uptick. The only argument I have with this is that April is obviously the end of the season, where the sample size in games drop. But after six full seasons, I'm inclined to believe the King can keep the Lundsanity up from March until April.
Let's backtrack a second, though, to the Feb. to March change. The good news is that he's been very consistent in the month of March, never going below a slump level of 0.910, while posting some good 0.920+ months. The bad news? Well, that would involve this season and where we started all of this, as he's currently posting a 0.953. Could that stay? Sure. Will it stay? When is the last time you heard of a goalie consistently posting a 0.950 Save%? This is where I'm torn on the whole issue, as his season trend-line (upper, black line) says its possible, but when we apply logic its doubtful to say the least.
So on a side note, I also just wanted to dig a little deeper and see what was driving Henrik this season, in terms of Even Strength or PK:
(click to enlarge)
Both of those worry me, but it also just shows how well he's playing. The PK is more of an issue than the Even Strength, only because the Rangers skaters have been playing better since Game 11 as George and I have eluded to in the past couple of months.
So, for the 8 AM summary crowd, here's the gist. Henrik seems to play well in the spring, which is great news and that means he probably can keep up this fantastic/Vezina level of play. Hopefully it does continue, and that he doesn't burn himself out. Mark my words though: next season could (should) be different, though (see Tim Thomas or Ryan Miller or almost any goalie who approached 0.925 or above).
Oh, and for the record I do not want Nash and instead would like to see Wolski in the game besides Fedetenko.