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11-14-2012, 09:45 PM
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Esposito's Losing streak

Originally Posted by Hockey Outsider View Post
I'd be interested in hearing if anybody has any comments about how Esposito performed during the sixteen game playoff losing streak - what did the newspapers say at the time?

A quick glance at the numbers shows the following:

Offense: Chicago's offense was horrific. The team scored 21 goals in 16 games (1.31 goals per game in any era when the average was roughly 3.40 goals per game). When a team scores around 62% less than the league average, I'd say the offense deserve a significant amount of the blame (even if only the goalie will personally get "credited" with a loss).

Defense: Esposito was hammered with 519 shots in 965 minutes (32.3 shots per minute). Only once did he face less than 24 shots; half the time he faced 35 or more.

Goaltending: Esposito stopped 88.1% of the shots he faced (457 saves on 519 shots). Does anyone have the playoff average save percentage for this era? That's a brutal number by today's standards but it might have been fairly respectable by the standards of the late seventies.


Despite losing 16 consecutive games, Esposito played brilliantly at times.

- April 15, 1976 - the Canadiens (#4 offense in the regular season) outshoot Chicago 39-31. Esposito allows two goals, but Chicago only scores once.

- April 7, 1977 - the Islanders (#6 offense in the regular season) outshoot Chicago 35-19. Esposito allows two goals, but Chicago only scores once.

- April 18, 1979 - the Islanders (#1 offense in the regular season) outshoot Chicago 40-22. Esposito stops all but one shot, but Chicago gets shut out.

In all three of those games, the Blackhawks appear to have been outplayed, but Esposito appears to have played extremely well by the standards of his era. These games don't prove that Espo was a great playoff goalie of course; but it does show that his 16 game losing streak was, at times, clearly the fault of his teammates rather than his own play.

If we assume Espo wins those three games where he clearly played well, his 16 game losing streak is cut to no more than a five game losing streak, which we've seen before for goalies of this calibre:

- Belfour - ten game losing streak comprising last four games in 1992, all four games in 1993, first two games in 1994. Even if use the same standard I used for Esposito and give Belfour credit for winning the games where he played brilliantly (specifically, May 30th 1992 and April 20th 1994) he still has a nasty six game losing streak, longer than Esposito's.

- Hall - seven game losing streak comprising last two games in 1959, all four games in 1960, first game of 1961.

- Plante - five game losing streak from 1971 to 1973, though that's admittedly at the end of his career).
Offense. Offense was sufficient for the team to finish three of the regular seasons in question. If the Hawks are allowed 25 SOG per game for the 16 games that means they scored 21 on 379 shots or the opposition goalies combined for a .948 SV% better if the shots were higher.

Defense. Same defense as the regular season producing reasonable results.

Goaltending. Over 16 games why is it only the opposition goalies that step-up? Over the course of his career such a string should have balanced somewhere.

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