Do The Thrashers Have Large Talons?

Friday, February 02, 2007

What is Wrong with this Team Pt. 2: Goaltending

NHL.com Stats section lets you break down goaltending Save % by game situation which is a great tool for analysis.

The Thrashers #1 goalie Kari Lehtonen has played well this season. I've seen some complaints about him on message boards, but if you compare him to the average starting goalie (minimum 20 games played) he fares well in most areas. Kari's even strength save % ranks him 10th out of 39 goalies who have played 20 or more games. He ranks 10th in Short Handed SV% and 15th in overall SV%. The one are that lags behind is his SV % when the Thrashers are facing the other team's power play and in this situation is just average 20 out of 39 goalies.

My personal bias is that his pedestrian SV % while facing the other team's PP unit is more a matter of our defense failing to protect him against point blank back door chances than anything else. I've lost count of the number of times the opposition has gotten a goal on him after giving our defense the slip behind Lehtenon's back.

Situation Lehtonen Hedberg League Median
Even Strength .925 .916 .920
Power Play Against .863 .762 .863
Short Handed Against .948 .688 .915
Total .910 .881 .908

There is a huge drop off when Hedberg starts his SV % is below that of the NHL median starting goaltender in every facet of the game. He has been particularly brutal in the special teams situations allowing 5 goals on just 11 Short Handed shot attempts and he's also bad when the Thrashers have been trying to kill off the opposition's power play allowing 10 goals on just 42 shots against. Ouch! I think Coach overplays Lehtonen at time, but after seeing these numbers I think I know why he does it.

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