Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Two Goalie Problem

With the current stare of affairs in the NHL there is a  concept of the 1A / 1B goalie.  Maybe not a new concept.  By this they mean there are two net minders sharing roughly equal time.  It used to be that there was one starting (primary) goalie and one backup goalie.   The starting goalie was expected to play about 60 games.  The back up the rest.  So approximately 22 games a season.  That formula has work for years.  With the 1A / 1B concept you guess it.. each goalie would play about 41 games each.

Now lets take a closer look at the 1A / 1B concept.  There is in theory a lot of advantages.  Back to back games for one.  Its almost a given you would start one on one night and the other on the other night.  If one of the goalies needs a maintenance day they can "rest" a day.  The other goalie simply starts two in a row and they can adjust the rotation accordingly.  They can also pick the right goalie to play certain teams.

A perfect example of the 1A / 1B concept is the Florida Panthers.   Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya both share net minding duties.  Both are veterans.  Roberto Luongo gets a few more starts then  Al Montoya does.  One interesting side note about Al Montoya is that for his level of play and experience, he has only played in 129 NHL games.

A couple  other notable success stories (with varying degrees of success) with the 1A / 1B concept are.  Blues with Jake Allen and Brian Elliot.  The Ducks with Frederik Andersen and John Gibson.

Now for the problem.  When it does not work, it really does NOT work.  Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen of the Stars are an example.  Antti Niemi with a season record of 22 Wins, 12 Losses and 6 OT.  With a SV% .903 and GAA  of 2.72.  Kari Lehtonen so far at 16 Wins, 8 Losses and 1 OT.  With a SV% .906 and GAA of 2.93.  Yes I know that they are currently in a play off position.  But with those SV% and GAA do they have what it takes?

In contrast lets look at Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya numbers.  Roberto Luongo is currently at SV% .925 and GAA of 2.24.  Al Montoya is at SV%.910 and a GAA 2.59.  That in part maybe be why he starts less then 50% of the games.  But still more then a traditional back up goalie would.

So at first look the numbers are way off. Consider that Kari Lehtonen had a SV% .903 and a GAA 2.94 for last season.  Those are NOT Stanley Cup numbers.  At a reported 5.9 million last season!  So my conclusion is that they they are in a play off spot because of great offense in spite of lack luster goal tending.

So I would say that the 1A / 1B concept is NOT working out with the Stars.   Lets briefly look at one of the other two pairs that were mentioned.

Jake Allen is at 20 Wins, 13 Losses and 3 OT.  With a current SV% .922 and GAA of 2.26.  Brian Elliot 17 Wins, 7 Losses and 6 OT.  With a current SV% .929 and GAA of 2.14.

The Blues are right on the heels of the Stars.  They are tied with 83 points each.  As you can see there is better goal tending going with the Blues.  

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