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03-20-2012, 10:09 PM
Lafleurs Guy
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Originally Posted by Roke View Post
Agreed that Price is good-to-very good right now. I have a couple of non-major concerns though. I don't have the links and I don't even remember which blog it was but they looked at goaltender save percentage and it actually peaked at quite a young age, about 24 as I recall (interestingly goal scorers also peak fairly young these days). I wish I remembered the blog... think it was a Leafs one... too much good writing out there these days to keep track of it all.

Secondly, I think the team effects on save percentage are probably smaller than one would think intuitively. Thomas Vokoun played on some awful teams but it didn't affect his save percentage that much. The Vancouver Province hockey blog had a post about Nick Backstrom's 'performance' under Jacques Lemaire compared to post-Lemaire coaches. His overall save percentage dropped, but his even-strength save percentage was the same. The author said the overall save percentage drop could be a result of Minnesota being a worse team and taking more penalties and allowing more powerplay goals against.

The penalties/special teams save percentage story for Backstrom makes at least intuitive sense to me and it accepts at least in part the team factor thing. When I've bothered to look at the Vezina candidates in past years (the exception being Tim Thomas who seems to be an exception to puck-stopping in every aspect) the guys who break into the top-3 tend to have very little change in even-strength save percentage, with the big leaps being made on special teams before those numbers regress.

I had them laying around so I figured I may as well post them. I should have included a chart with overall save percentage to help show my point that the big gains since 2005-06 have been mostly due to fewer powerplay goals against. The next time I decide to play around with Excel I should take a look at even-strength save percentage for individual goaltenders - there's a lot less variance in it which makes it probably a better measure of goaltender talent. Even then when looking at goalie statistics we're basically judging them based on something crude like RBIs, and NHL goaltenders are generally so close together in talent that you can't tell much.

In Price's case, his outstanding technique gives some hope for a bounce back to where he was last year. I haven't chimed in on the original topic, but I think we do over-glorify goalies in Montreal these days and don't take into account the amount of goaltender talent league-wide.

Even The Hockey News' future watch issue had Price as the only young face of the franchise, omitting Subban & Pacioretty entirely. At best I would say Price is the 4th-most important player on the team (behind Subban, Plekanec, and Pacioretty) in terms of driving results. That's not to say he's terrible or not important, but it's more difficult to find players like the aforementioned trio than it is a good goaltender (unless you have goalie myopia like Brian Burke).
Goalies are mission critical to team success. Look at what Belfour did for the Leafs. They were great with him because he'd stand on his head and they could go all out scoring. Now look at them. You put a decent netminder in there and they make the playoffs easily this year.

Our club doesn't score and right now has a very green blueline on its roster. We're currently 18th in goals per game and that's the best we've been in years. When you aren't scoring and have a green defense you're toast.

Consistent goalies who can log heavy icetime are not easy to find. Not many goalies can log the games that Price does and still put up good numbers. And he's doing it on a crap team. Yes, Subban is a great young player and so is MaxPac. But there's a reason Price was put on the cover of that story you were talking about... we're talking about a young player with a resume few can match when compared to by age.

Imagine what that guy would do behind Weber and Suter or Lidstrom or Chara... Imagine what he could do if our club could actually score some goals. He plays on below average teams that rely heavily on goaltending to make the playoffs. He's our best player (not saying much right now) and I don't think there's a GM out there who would disagree with that.

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