Do The Thrashers Have Large Talons?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Analysis: Lehtonen's Strengths and Weaknesses

I rarely write much about goaltenders. Unlike forward and defense I've never played the position and I lack knowledge about technique. As a defenseman I have a gut feeling about whether a particular shot is likely to result in a goal or a save so I will write about "bad" goals now and then. Well, today I'm going to write about Kari Lehtonen by using some super cool data that Java Geek has on his blog. He takes shot on goal data and breaks down each starting goaltender's save percentage depending on where shots were taken from and what part of the net the shots were directed at. He has some nice intuitive graphics that help the reader quickly and easily grasp what he is looking at.

His data from last season shows that Kari had a high save percentage (.949) on shots from the "outside" roughly the area above the face off dots in the offensive zone minus the high slot region (if you want to see the graphic click over and scroll down). In fact his SV% on "outside" shots is higher than Brodeur and basically equal to Luongo and Kiprusoff. Kari's second strongest SV% is on shots from low right or left side of the net minus the slot area (.895). His right and left doorstep numbers are close to the league average SV% on all shots. The highest scoring areas of the ice are the high slot (.865) and low slot (.807) parts of the ice. Kari actually has an above average SV% on low slot shots on goal. Kari's low slot numbers were .807 which is actually stronger than Kiprusoff's.763 and Luongo's .784 in the same region of the ice. The Thrashers could lower their goals against significantly if they simply lower the number of high quality shots they allow from the high and low slot parts of the ice. I am curious to see how the revamped defense does this coming sesaon.

If we move on to the second set of analysis done by Java Geek he displays SV% in the 5 areas of the net. Lehtonen's SV% looks like this:
Net Area Lehtonen Brodeur Luongo Kiprusoff Kolzig
High Stick .835 .836 .883 .843 .855
High Glove .872 .889 .856 .905 .778
Low Stick .920 .945 .933 .923 .927
Five Hole .896 .900 .894 .880 .863
Low Glove .918 .929 .918 .902 .910

If we compare Lehtonen's numbers to some other goalies it is pretty obvious that his weakest area is the high stick side. His five hole numbers are pretty good when you consider that he is a big guy and naturally has a big five hole--which he can close very quickly. While Kari puts up his highest SV% numbers on the low stick and glove side, other elite goalies have even higher numbers--especially on the low stick side. This suggests to me that despite being able to cover the bottom of the net when he is in the butterfly position pucks some saveable pucks are still eluding him down low. To get his numbers up into the elite level he probably needs to perform even better on both the low and high stick side. His glove numbers are solid, especially compared to Kolzig (note to Thrashers shooters aim for the glove versus the Caps!).

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