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When do goalies peak?

View Poll Results: At what age do NHL goalies peak?
Younger than 23 1 1.85%
24-25 1 1.85%
26-27 6 11.11%
27-28 19 35.19%
29-30 15 27.78%
31 or older 12 22.22%
Voters: 54. You may not vote on this poll

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Old
07-17-2004, 08:45 PM
  #1
mudcrutch79
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When do goalies peak?

Iím doing a little research in light of the Conklin resigning. Iíd just like to get peopleís opinions on when they think goalies hit their peak. Iím going to post some stuff based on my research shortly, and Iíd like to see how it compares with the collective thoughts of the board.


Last edited by mudcrutch79: 07-17-2004 at 09:03 PM.
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07-17-2004, 09:07 PM
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mudcrutch79
Iím doing a little research in light of the Conklin resigning. Iíd just like to get peopleís opinions on when they think goalies hit their peak. Iím going to post some stuff based on my research shortly, and Iíd like to see how it compares with the collective thoughts of the board.
I'd say as a general rule its post 30 yrs old, this of course assumes health.

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07-17-2004, 09:20 PM
  #3
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I would have agreed with you several years ago, lowetide, however I think some recent goaltending events have shown that a goaltender doesn't so much peak but plateaus.

From about 30 to 37 or so, goaltenders are at their 'prime' lately. Think of the best goaltenders in the league: Almost all of them are in their 30's (Nabokov and Luongo if you really like him would be exceptions). Consider the last cup winning goaltenders: Khabibulin, Brodeur, Hasek, Roy, Belfour - all thes guys are 30 or older, some being very old. Other goaltenders all of a sudden go crazy later on too - Dwayne Roloson last year was UNBE-FRICKIN'-LEAVABLE and was doing everything Roberto Luongo was going but got zero hype - Sean Burke has suddenly gone in the tank, but was a Vezina nominee several years back. Even Chris Osgood is probobly playing better than he was as a Wing.

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07-17-2004, 09:25 PM
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Thompson
Even Chris Osgood is probobly playing better than he was as a Wing.
I think you are stretching it there.

Osgood was one of the best goalies in the league when he was with Detroit... he had people wondering why he wasn't chosen by Team Canada for the 1998 Winter Olympics.

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07-17-2004, 09:31 PM
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Thompson
I would have agreed with you several years ago, lowetide, however I think some recent goaltending events have shown that a goaltender doesn't so much peak but plateaus.
Okay, I'll accept that as logical. Goalies who stay in the league long enough to figure out how to deal with the wear and tear AND retain their ability plateau at 30-ish and have a long period at that level.

This is probably true going farther back too, although the shortened careers of Parent and Dryden might obscure it.

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07-17-2004, 09:36 PM
  #6
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Jay,

Other than Cup winners, what basis is there for saying that goalies peak in the 30-37 period?

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07-17-2004, 09:36 PM
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by York16
I think you are stretching it there.

Osgood was one of the best goalies in the league when he was with Detroit... he had people wondering why he wasn't chosen by Team Canada for the 1998 Winter Olympics.
I don't know I think I'd actually agree with Miz here. I am not a fan of Osgood at all. I always thought he was very overrated because he had the benefit of playing behind a very good Detroit team.

I wouldn't say Osgood ranked in the top-ten in the league among goaltenders last year, however, he was very good for the Blues when they needed him. Especially down the stretch... I was very impressed with his play and was a little surprised that the Blues gave up on him. However, I think he's an easy scapegoat (actually so is Lalime now that I think about it).

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07-17-2004, 09:48 PM
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrMackey
I don't know I think I'd actually agree with Miz here. I am not a fan of Osgood at all. I always thought he was very overrated because he had the benefit of playing behind a very good Detroit team.

I wouldn't say Osgood ranked in the top-ten in the league among goaltenders last year, however, he was very good for the Blues when they needed him. Especially down the stretch... I was very impressed with his play and was a little surprised that the Blues gave up on him. However, I think he's an easy scapegoat (actually so is Lalime now that I think about it).
I, too, am not much of a fan of Osgood, but I still think he was one of the NHL's better goalies when he was with Detroit. When he first went to Long Island, he still was playing well.

I can see where you two are coming from, but I still think he was better when he was with the Wings. One thing that can't be argued, imo, is that Osgood was a lot more consistent when he was with Detroit, great team in front of him or not. Yeah, he turned in some good games down the stretch with the Blues this season, but he wasn't that great earlier in the season, or against the Canucks in the playoffs in 2003.

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07-17-2004, 10:19 PM
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mudcrutch79
Iíd like to see how it compares with the collective thoughts of the board.
I didn't vote because I don't have have any idea, really.

However since no internet discussion board remains interesting without a little controversy, for kicks I'd like to give a shot at arguing 24-25 or 26-27. Here's how it goes.

They're old enough and have seen enough rubber to get their game together and learn the NHL players. They've gotten their act together in the early part of their 20s where the goalie learning is best done: older goalies adapt as the game changes if they're good, but the young ones have the advantage of not having to unlearn the stuff they'd drilled into their game over the course of a decade. And physically they're in a sweet-spot period: in their teens their reflexes are fastest and by 26 they're on a slow decline; meanwhile in the early 30s their cardio endurance is at its peak but its closing in on it by 26, 27.

The fact that older goalies earn cups can be explained by the fact that most 26 year olds just reaching their peak don't have the history and reputation to land on the cup contenders: they are understandably risk averse and want "proven winners".

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07-18-2004, 12:13 AM
  #10
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Alright, let me begin by apologizing, both for the fact that this is going to be long, and for the fact that this is going to be somewhat stats-laden. I promise that it is highly accessible despite having a ton of numbers and still a lot of fun.

This whole question in my mind of when goalies peak was driven by the Oilers recent signing of Conklin to a three year deal, a deal that just makes no sense to me. The deal starts at 1.5 million dollars and presumably goes up from there, which leads me to think that weíve likely committed 5 million bucks to a 27 year who has proven absolutely nothing.

So then I say to myself, well isnít the prevailing wisdom that goalies mature later, and their big seasons occur in the late 20ís/early 30ís? The poll Iíve done here seems to indicate that, with most of the votes as I write this being for goalies peaking at age 29 or later. If so, maybe this isnít such a bad deal for the Oilers. I set out to test this theory, using goalie stats from 1987-88 forward. In honour of my good friends over at battersbox.ca, a cuttlefish to anyone who knows why I chose that date.

A brief explanation of what Iím using to assess the goalies is probably necessary. Iím using a version of save percentage that is normalized to the season in question, and then multiplied by 1000, to give me a number that was easier on the eyes. In essence this tells me what a goalies save percentage is relative to the league as a whole. This is a much better way of looking at it than by save percentage alone, as the NHL average save percentage, over the course of a Pat Roy, rose from .880 in 1987-88, to something like .909 in 2002-03. The essential information in valuing these guys is determining their worth relative to the league, so I felt that this was the way to go. If someone has a different way that they feel it should be done, Iíd be open to it.

An example of the above. Tommy Salo, playing in 2000-01 had a .904 save percentage, which when divided by the league average of .904 and multiplied by 1000 gives us 1000, as that was the league average. By contrast, Grant Fuhr had a .897 save percentage in 1990-91, but because the league average was just .886, Fuhr was a more valuable goaltender, and after we multiply .897/.886 by 1000, we get 1013. Raw numbers are misleading. (Fuhr had a tiny sample in 1990-91, but this is just an example.)

Anyway, at least one thing has become clear, which leads me to believe that Kevin Lowe has just signed yet another big contract with a middling talent.

1. Goalies peak way earlier than is generally thought.

In order to determine when a goalie peaks, I had to establish some controls. I decided that I would look only at goalies who had at least 4 seasons where they had faced at least 400 shots, and who were no older than 25 in 1987-88 and no younger than 30 in 2003-04 so as to catch both ends of the spectrum. I might underrepresent goalies who peak in their 30ís a bit because of this, but I assure you, it will be minimal.

This left me with 64 goalies. I then determined when they peaked by looking for the season in which they had their greatest save percentage relative to the league. The answers are in the chart below.

As you can see, by age 26, 32 of the players in question had had their career seasons in this regard. By age 28, 48/64 and in terms of people doing after age 30-just 11/64 players peaked then. Of the players who were actually peaking then, we arenít exactly dealing with the NHL elite-this tends to be more of the backup goalies.

In terms of relating this to what the Oilers have done with Conklin, it seems to me that Lowe has undertaken a real risk, with a pretty low probability of a decent return. I suspect that Conklin could well be one of the guys who hits his peak a year or two later (his save percentage was hammered a bit by the lousy PK), but when you consider that weíre likely gonna lose next year to a strike, Lowe seems to have tied up a fair chunk of money in a guy little upside. It seems fairly likely to me that Edmonton could end up with a guy who is league average in terms of save percentage. Why we needed to give this guy, who had relatively little leverage such a sweet deal, Iíll never understand.

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07-18-2004, 12:43 AM
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mudcrutch79
Anyway, at least one thing has become clear, which leads me to believe that Kevin Lowe has just signed yet another big contract with a middling talent.
Well my immediate reaction was that after the last Salo contract I didn't think Lowe would sign a goalie to any lengthy term, nor did I want him to.

However I quickly became much less concerned about it after it was revealed Conklin's third year is a team option. Even if it turns out to be a mistake, the numbers are not totally out of whack for a backup goalie and Conklin should be at least that.

Quote:
1. Goalies peak way earlier than is generally thought.
Is there a #2?


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07-18-2004, 01:49 AM
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mudcrutch79
If so, maybe this isnít such a bad deal for the Oilers. I set out to test this theory, using goalie stats from 1987-88 forward. In honour of my good friends over at battersbox.ca, a cuttlefish to anyone who knows why I chose that date.
Is it because Ron Hextall won the Conn Smythe in 1987 even though the Flyers lost?
I always wanted a cuttlefish.

Quote:
The answers are in the chart below.
I'm not getting a chart. It looks like the post just cut off in the middle.

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07-18-2004, 08:58 AM
  #13
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Just to clarify... Patrick Roy had an .900 sv % in 87-88 and .920 in 02-03.

But I think there is more than just sv% to look at... it doesn't really tell the full story.

For Instance, Khabibulin's sv% has dropped the past few years.... but he's a better goaltender now than he was 5 years ago. He controls his rebounds significantly better, allowing fewer 2nd and 3rd shots (which can boost your save%, but also can result in more goals against).

I think the ultimate stats are wins... including playoff wins...

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07-18-2004, 09:32 AM
  #14
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Alright, I have a bunch of information that I thought Iíd get up here. First of all, the guys who have been exactly average, just so we have some idea of what weíre talking about. Surprisingly, there are a lot of big name guys on that list. I found it interesting that DiPietro hit average for the first time last year, while the guy that they dumped to get him, Luongo, hit that point two years earlier in his development. I donít yet know what it means in terms of ceiling, but it certainly seems like Luongo developed more quickly than did DiPietro.

Code:
1987-88	29	Doug Keans	658	748	0.880	1000
1988-89	31	Greg Millen	1238	1408	0.879	1000
1989-90	23	Bruce Hoffort	140	159	0.881	1000
1990-91	30	Brian Hayward	597	674	0.886	1000
1991-92	28	Frank Pietrangelo	254	286	0.888	1000
1991-92	27	Chris Terreri	1342	1511	0.888	1000
1992-93	30	Jon Casey	1490	1683	0.885	1000
1993-94	21	Chris Osgood	894	999	0.895	1000
1994-95	26	Mark Fitzpatrick	325	361	0.900	1000
1995-96	25	Stephane Fiset	909	1012	0.898	1000
1996-97	25	Byron Dafoe	1066	1178	0.905	1000
1997-98	26	Tommy Salo	1465	1617	0.906	1000
1997-98	26	Felix Potvin	1706	1882	0.906	1000
1998-99	22	Tomas Vokoun	945	1041	0.908	1000
1998-99	21	J-sebastien Aubin	276	304	0.908	1000
1999-00	20	Roberto Luongo	660	730	0.904	1000
1999-00	23	Tomas Vokoun	821	908	0.904	1000
1999-00	33	Mike Richter	1642	1815	0.905	1000
2000-01	28	Chris Osgood	1183	1310	0.903	1000
2000-01	22	David Aebischer	486	538	0.903	1000
2000-01	29	Tommy Salo	1677	1856	0.904	1000
2001-02	28	Peter Skudra	461	508	0.907	1000
2003-04	22	Rick Dipietro	1149	1261	0.911	1000


Last edited by mudcrutch79: 07-18-2004 at 09:37 AM.
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Old
07-18-2004, 10:42 AM
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgbone
Just to clarify... Patrick Roy had an .900 sv % in 87-88 and .920 in 02-03.
Sorry that I wasnít a little more clear on that point-my point was that the league wide save percentage had risen 29 points from 1987-88 to 2002-03, so in assessing a guy like Pat Roy, you need to consider that. Looking at it with the concept of relative save percentage, itís clear that his peak value *relative to the league* was when he was 24. One of the really fun things about looking at things this way is that we can get an idea of what a guyís value to his team was in terms of goals above the average goaltender, and then in applying the poisson distribution, a rough approximation of what his value was to his team in terms of points.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgbone
But I think there is more than just sv% to look at... it doesn't really tell the full story.
For Instance, Khabibulin's sv% has dropped the past few years.... but he's a better goaltender now than he was 5 years ago. He controls his rebounds significantly better, allowing fewer 2nd and 3rd shots (which can boost your save%, but also can result in more goals against).[/quote]

Iím sorry, but I just canít buy this. There are a couple of reasons for this. First off, for Khabibulin to have allowed enough extra shots and goals off of rebounds to boost his save percentage while at the same time increasing his goals against, heíd have to be giving up an extra 10-12 shots per game by my calculation, and letting in only one of them. Letís look at his most recent season.

Code:
YEAR	SV	GA	SH	SV%	RSV%	S/G	GAA
2003-04	1287	127	1414	0.910	999	25.92	2.33
What would it have taken for him to get to that career best 1016 relative save percentage he enjoyed a few years back? Letís look at what heíd need to do to have a higher save percentage-weíll look at various possibilities of shots against, how many goals heíd be giving up with a 1016 relative save percentage, and what his GAA would be.

Code:
SV	GA	SH	SV%	RSV%	S/G	GAA
1388	112	1500	0.926	1016	27.50	2.05
1481	119	1600	0.926	1016	29.33	2.18
1573	127	1700	0.926	1016	31.16	2.32
1583	127	1710	0.926	1016	31.35	2.33
1666	134	1800	0.926	1016	33.00	2.46
So by my calculation, in order to actually increase his GAA while carrying a .926 save percentage, heíd need to see an extra 5.43 shots, each and every game. That is a massive increase in shots, and I simply cannot accept that a goalie has that kind of ability to change his game, in a few short years. I donít think itís credible to assume that a sudden ability to control rebounds is at the root of the decline in his save percentages, both unadjusted and relative. It seems far more likely to me that the Lightning as a team are giving up fewer shots, which is good because Khabibulin is likely not the goaltender that he was a few years ago. I took a quick look at Khabibulin versus the other TBL goalies as well, and unless they all improved their ability to control rebounds as well, Iím even more likely to attribute this to the team. I should add a caveat here, I have yet to fully consider the impact of things like penalty kills and what not with this, but it seems to me that itís unlikely that TB was a heavily penalized team-it certainly doesnít square with my recollections of watching them play.

To make myself crystal clear on this point, the numbers suggest that a newfound ability to control his rebounds is not at the root of the decline. I might be more open to believing this as well, if this decline wasnít evident with the vast majority of goalies that I looked at. I guess maybe the vast majority of goalies in the league become better at

Quote:
I think the ultimate stats are wins... including playoff wins...
Well, itís tough to argue with this. I assume youíre the kind of guy who blames the goalie for all the losses then as well. Boy do I wish that I was the GM in TB and you were the GM in FLA, because Iíd give you Khabibulin for Luongo in a heartbeat.

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07-18-2004, 11:28 PM
  #16
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Interesting stuff, mudcrutch.

Its a really valid thing to try and decypher. Really tricky though IMO. Tricky because while goaltending has become easier because of the larger equipment ... shooters have become better because of the better sticks as well. So its hard to say how much of the improvement has come from the equipment and how much from the fact that the goalies are better now. And the young goalies coming up are better trained from a young age.

If you have read of Allaire's stuff (you'd like it, they are more into probabilities and percentages than either of us! ) ... you can appreciate that the young guys coming up are going to be more effective puckstoppers ... which might cause most of the veteran goalies to be declining 'relative to the league' ... but not in fact declining realtive to their own past performance.

Also you have a lot more professional coaches now, fewer ex-players ... and these guys tend to play the young goalies more if the back-up is getting the results, rather than tough it out with vets like the old-school coaches would.

Does that make sense? I'm not dissing your post, its excellent. I just think that somehow this factor has to be addressed. Because intuitvely I feel it is really significant.

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07-19-2004, 12:17 AM
  #17
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Just like some players get shielded from top opposition on a per shift basis (as illustrated Igor's recent thread) I think it's well established that back-up goalies face less top teams than the vets do on average. Therefor I don't think it's really fair to compare starter minutes to backup minutes.

I think that an obvious distinction here would be at what age goalies typically assume a #1 role on a winning team, or even better, the avg age of vezina winners..

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07-19-2004, 12:32 AM
  #18
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Originally Posted by Oi'll say!
Just like some players get shielded from top opposition on a per shift basis (as illustrated Igor's recent thread) I think it's well established that back-up goalies face less top teams than the vets do on average. Therefor I don't think it's really fair to compare starter minutes to backup minutes.
If you're looking at wins and losses I'm sure that's fair to say. Or if its a goalie that only played a dozen or so games ... it could very weel be that they faced a lot of poor shooting teams

But for the most part ... if you're looking at save%, it won't make much of a difference for most guys. There just isn't that much difference in shooting%, exp EVshooting%, for most teams.

Quote:
I think that an obvious distinction here would be at what age goalies typically assume a #1 role on a winning team, or even better, the avg age of vezina winners..
Ya, the #1 role thing certainly tells you when they gained the confidence of the coaching staffs. And most coaches are a helluva lot smarter about hockey than most fans. With every passing year though you're seeing coaches become more and more willing to run with the young goalies. Probably Keenan started that trend ... but its a clear trend.

Still, I like mudcrutch's methodology ... it's pretty tough to poke holes in it for the most part. And it has real value to hockey mgmt if it can be shown to hold water. Of course the whole <<are the goalies getting better or bigger>> argument rears its head again. It probably a bit of both, but how much of each? I don't really have any idea how to figure that out ... but there probably is a way.

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07-19-2004, 08:45 PM
  #19
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Originally Posted by York16
I, too, am not much of a fan of Osgood, but I still think he was one of the NHL's better goalies when he was with Detroit. When he first went to Long Island, he still was playing well.
Osgood is a much better goaltender now than he was with Detroit. Trust me. He just doesn't have the benefit of that Detroit team in front of him anymore. He carried the Isles when he first came over in October of 2001. And he carried the Blues to open last season AND down the stretch last year.

Quote:
Originally Posted by York16
I can see where you two are coming from, but I still think he was better when he was with the Wings. One thing that can't be argued, imo, is that Osgood was a lot more consistent when he was with Detroit, great team in front of him or not.
A popular misconception. Osgood is actually getting MORE consistent with age. He's always been a "streaky" goaltender. When he was with the Wings, he'd go into month-long, (sometimes longer), slumps. And we're not just talking "slump", we're talking about a "slump" of nearly disastrous proportions. The Detroit roster could usually manage to win games in front of him even when he wasn't playing well. NOW his slumps are usually limited to a 2-3 week span, MAXIMUM, and nowhere NEAR as "bad" as they used to be. Instead of being downright "Bad", he's mostly just "ineffective" when he's slumping. BUT, he hasn't had the luxury of that Detroit team in front for a few years now. When he's slumping the team in front of him, (both Isles AND Blues), were not strong enough offensively to win games unless he was 100% on top of his game.

Quote:
Originally Posted by York16
Yeah, he turned in some good games down the stretch with the Blues this season, but he wasn't that great earlier in the season, or against the Canucks in the playoffs in 2003.
He was one of the best goaltenders in the League, right up until late December, when the Blues went on that scoring binge which saw them netting an average of 1.75 goals per game for a TWO MONTH SPAN. Osgood was playing FINE, until the lack of offense started to wear on him mentally. He started trying to do TOO much, knowing that he'd need to let in no more than ONE goal per game in order to win. And with the way the Defense was playing in front of him, he was getting NO help whatsoever.

Osgood posted GAA's of 2.27 in Oct., 2.09 in Nov., and 1.74 in December. During Jan. and Feb., the Blues, as a TEAM, hit a MAJOR slide, and throughout January and February, were scoring an average of 1.75 goals per game. Osgood posted GAA's of 2.89 in January, and 2.49 in February.

When Coach Q was fired, "meetings" were held with Osgood, Pronger, Demitra and Tkachuk - ALL were told that they would have to "pick up" their game, or risk missing the post-season. They did. ALL of them.

Osgood posted GAA's of 1.97 in March and 2.00 in April.

As for 2003 against the 'Nucks.....

After coming off of an injury which had kept him sidelined for almost 2 months during the regular season, Osgood had 9 games to get back into "game shape" with a NEW TEAM before the playoffs started.

He played well enough in that series, considering the fact that he was not only not FULLY recovered and back at his peak from the injury he suffered in late January, but he was injured again, (pulled hamstring), in game five against the Canucks.

Again.....

Osgood is a BETTER goaltender now than he was when he was with Detroit.

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07-19-2004, 09:23 PM
  #20
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Just did a quick calculation checking the age's of goalies when they won the Vezina since 1982(first year it wasn't a statistical award and given to just one goalie) and the average age is 27.6. Obviouslly this isn't taken into accounts your average goalie though as these are all guy's that were considered the best. Also, the average could be affected by the unnorm (Jim Carrey) and the only time Barraso won it was when he was 19...(not quite sure what that means though...) Another point is that some of the goalie won it more than once, and in Roy's and Hasek's cases' multiple times. Take this for what it's worth, but I certainly do think that it does hold some weight for the peak age being around their late twenties.

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07-19-2004, 09:32 PM
  #21
igor*
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie
Just did a quick calculation checking the age's of goalies when they won the Vezina since 1982(first year it wasn't a statistical award and given to just one goalie) and the average age is 27.6. Obviouslly this isn't taken into accounts your average goalie though as these are all guy's that were considered the best. Also, the average could be affected by the unnorm (Jim Carrey) and the only time Barraso won it was when he was 19...(not quite sure what that means though...) Another point is that some of the goalie won it more than once, and in Roy's and Hasek's cases' multiple times. Take this for what it's worth, but I certainly do think that it does hold some weight for the peak age being around their late twenties.
Cool. I had voted 29-30, sounds like I'm definitely on the high side.

Another way to look at it is guys who had shorter careers ... what age range did they tend to happen in.

For forwards it seems like its usually in the 24-28 yr old range that mid-level guys are bonafide NHL regulars, Dmen I'd guess maybe a couple of years older than that. Goalies ... more of a mixed bag, or at least it seems that way intuitively.

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