The Weakest Link

Robert Cleave
July 27 2011 12:08AM

             

 

 

I'll confess a certain level of amusement over the handwringing going on in the comments here, when it's blatantly obvious that the biggest impediment to the Flames reaching the playoffs last season was a player that has received no mention at all. It's a bit odd, really, that people are willing to agonize over the mediocre play of middling types like Stajan while never, ever discussing the elephant in the room. 

The primary reason the Calgary Flames watched the playoffs from the comfort of their homes was the substandard play of their number one goaltender, full stop. Miikka Kiprusoff seems to get an astonishing amount of slack from the local media and fans, but even a cursory examination of his 5v5 work last year should have given people the hint. The Flames were one of the stingiest teams in the league 5v5, allowing shots at a rate of 27.5 per 60, 4th best overall, and yet somehow finished 16th in 5v5 goals against. 

I've collected a wide range of data from Hockey Analysis to show just how badly served the skaters on the Flames were by their alleged elite goalie last year. First, here are the 5v5 shots for/against percentages for the regular goalies in the league when they were in net. I've included everyone that played at least 1500 minutes at 5v5 in 2011/12, covering 32 goalies, with the major starters and 1A types captured.

 

    Shots %     Shots %
1 ELLIS, DAN 0.539 17 BRYZGALOV, ILYA 0.497
2 CRAWFORD, COREY 0.533 18 LUNDQVIST, HENRIK 0.493
3 BRODEUR, MARTIN 0.532 19 ELLIOTT, BRIAN 0.492
4 NIEMI, ANTTI 0.529 20 RINNE, PEKKA 0.490
5 FLEURY, MARC-ANDRE 0.528 21 ROLOSON, DWAYNE 0.488
6 KIPRUSOFF, MIIKKA 0.524 22 BUDAJ, PETER 0.485
7 HOWARD, JIMMY 0.519 23 PAVELEC, ONDREJ 0.484
8 LUONGO, ROBERTO 0.514 24 VOKOUN, TOMAS 0.484
9 PRICE, CAREY 0.514 25 ANDERSON, CRAIG 0.480
10 MILLER, RYAN 0.513 26 WARD, CAM 0.472
11 HALAK, JAROSLAV 0.512 27 LEHTONEN, KARI 0.466
12 NEUVIRTH, MICHAL 0.507 28 DUBNYK, DEVAN 0.462
13 QUICK, JONATHAN 0.506 29 REIMER, JAMES 0.460
14 BOBROVSKY, SERGEI 0.504 30 KHABIBULIN, NIKOLAI 0.459
15 THOMAS, TIM 0.500 31 HILLER, JONAS 0.452
16 MASON, STEVE 0.498 32 BACKSTROM, NIKLAS 0.433
 
 
When Kiprusoff was in net, the Flames were outshooting their opposition by a fairly healthy rate, which runs contrary to the myth of a goalie battling insumountable odds. In other words, Kipper wasn't exactly bombarded compared to his brethren. With that sort of shots ratio, the club should have been in pretty good shape 5v5.
 
So, what went wrong? The answer to that might be found in our man's 5v5 save percentage:
 
  
    5v5 SV%     5v5 SV%
1 THOMAS, TIM .949 17 MILLER, RYAN .926
2 RINNE, PEKKA .935 18 QUICK, JONATHAN .925
3 LUONGO, ROBERTO .934 19 ROLOSON, DWAYNE .924
4 REIMER, JAMES .933 20 ANDERSON, CRAIG .921
5 BRYZGALOV, ILYA .933 21 DUBNYK, DEVAN .921
6 NIEMI, ANTTI .931 22 VOKOUN, TOMAS .920
7 BACKSTROM, NIKLAS .931 23 NEUVIRTH, MICHAL .919
8 PRICE, CAREY .930 24 HALAK, JAROSLAV .918
9 HILLER, JONAS .930 25 KIPRUSOFF, MIIKKA .917
10 WARD, CAM .929 26 HOWARD, JIMMY .915
11 LUNDQVIST, HENRIK .929 27 BUDAJ, PETER .914
12 LEHTONEN, KARI .929 28 MASON, STEVE .912
13 PAVELEC, ONDREJ .928 29 BRODEUR, MARTIN .911
14 CRAWFORD, COREY .928 30 ELLIS, DAN .907
15 BOBROVSKY, SERGEI .927 31 KHABIBULIN, NIKOLAI .901
16 FLEURY, MARC-ANDRE .927 32 ELLIOTT, BRIAN .900
 

That really isn't up to snuff for a goalie that's carrying the 5th highest cap hit amongst goalies, at least in my view. As an aside, a drop of one percent is likely worth about 12-15 goals against 5v5 for a regular goalie, since most of the main guys face between 1200-1500 5v5 shots.

Now, one of the common refrains is that the Flames ran up shot totals when they were chasing the game. With that noted, here are the shots for/against % when the game was tied for the same approximate cohort of goalies. For these next two tables, I'm using the filter of 750 5v5 tied minutes played during 2011/12 on Hockey Analysis, which gives me 27 goalies in total:

 

    Shots %     Shots %
1 HOWARD, JIMMY 0.547 15 ELLIOTT, BRIAN 0.503
2 BRODEUR, MARTIN 0.544 16 QUICK, JONATHAN 0.501
3 CRAWFORD, COREY 0.544 17 BRYZGALOV, ILYA 0.499
4 BOBROVSKY, SERGEI 0.537 18 PAVELEC, ONDREJ 0.492
5 FLEURY, MARC-ANDRE 0.532 19 VOKOUN, TOMAS 0.491
6 KIPRUSOFF, MIIKKA 0.530 20 LUNDQVIST, HENRIK 0.490
7 NIEMI, ANTTI 0.529 21 ROLOSON, DWAYNE 0.489
8 THOMAS, TIM 0.526 22 NEUVIRTH, MICHAL 0.478
9 RINNE, PEKKA 0.525 23 ANDERSON, CRAIG 0.465
10 LUONGO, ROBERTO 0.518 24 HILLER, JONAS 0.462
11 MILLER, RYAN 0.513 25 WARD, CAM 0.460
12 MASON, STEVE 0.506 26 LEHTONEN, KARI 0.454
13 PRICE, CAREY 0.506 27 BACKSTROM, NIKLAS 0.424
14 HALAK, JAROSLAV 0.505      

 

Again, Miikka wasn't all that hard done by. The Flames actually controlled more of the shots when the game was tied than overall, and Kipper had the 6th best support of his peer group. Honestly, if your team is sporting a 53% shots for/against ratio when the game is tied, average goaltending should do the trick unless you have a season like New Jersey where nothing was going in the other team's net for the first two months. At any rate, here are the SV% numbers in that game state for the same crew of goalies:

 

    5v5 tiedSV %     5v5 tied SV %
1 NIEMI, ANTTI .944 15 QUICK, JONATHAN .930
2 RINNE, PEKKA .944 16 BACKSTROM, NIKLAS .927
3 WARD, CAM .940 17 MILLER, RYAN .926
4 HILLER, JONAS .940 18 FLEURY, MARC-ANDRE .924
5 THOMAS, TIM .939 19 BRODEUR, MARTIN .923
6 ROLOSON, DWAYNE .938 20 HOWARD, JIMMY .923
7 ANDERSON, CRAIG .936 21 LEHTONEN, KARI .923
8 PAVELEC, ONDREJ .936 22 PRICE, CAREY .921
9 HALAK, JAROSLAV .935 23 VOKOUN, TOMAS .921
10 BRYZGALOV, ILYA .935 24 MASON, STEVE .917
11 CRAWFORD, COREY .935 25 NEUVIRTH, MICHAL .911
12 BOBROVSKY, SERGEI .934 26 KIPRUSOFF, MIIKKA .910
13 LUONGO, ROBERTO .933 27 ELLIOTT, BRIAN .906
14 LUNDQVIST, HENRIK .930      

 

Oy. When the game was tied, as his team helped him more, he gave them less. The Flames were a middle of the pack SH% team at 5v5 overall and tied, by the way. Kipper had the 14th best SH% support overall and 13th best when the game was tied, so I have a hard time accepting any sort of argument that his team shot nothing but muffins while he faced unstoppable bullets. 

What should worry people the most is that Miikka Kiprusoff has been underwhelming for several years running by that last metric. I ran a four year composite of SV% for goalies that had played at least 3000 EV tied minutes since 2007/08. There are 19 goalies that met that threshold: 

 

    07/08 to 10/11 5v5 tied SV%  
1 RINNE, PEKKA                              .941  
2 THOMAS, TIM                              .937  
3 BRODEUR, MARTIN                              .935  
4 WARD, CAM                              .934  
5 LUONGO, ROBERTO                              .933  
6 QUICK, JONATHAN                              .931  
7 VOKOUN, TOMAS                              .930  
8 ROLOSON, DWAYNE                              .929  
9 BACKSTROM, NIKLAS                              .929  
10 MASON, CHRIS                              .928  
11 NABOKOV, EVGENI                              .928  
12 BRYZGALOV, ILYA                              .928  
13 MILLER, RYAN                              .926  
14 FLEURY, MARC-ANDRE                              .925  
15 LUNDQVIST, HENRIK                              .925  
16 MASON, STEVE                              .924  
17 KIPRUSOFF, MIIKKA                              .919  
18 PRICE, CAREY                              .919  
19 TURCO, MARTY                              .913  

 

Please note that included in that run was a .935 number in 09/10, which was 6th best amongst his peer group. As well, Kipper had the 5th best shots for/against ratio of those 19 goalies working in his favour, as well as the 5th highest team SH% in front of him during that 4 year run, so again, the team was giving him a reasonable amount of support in terms of shots and shooting percentage. 
 
There's no nice way to put this, really. Miikka Kiprusoff has been at the heart of the failures of the Flames since 06/07. I'll be the first to acknowledge that he had a very good 09/10 in the midst of this bad run, but that season is looking more and more as if it were an outlier rather than a bounce back year after being freed of the Iron One.
 
I have no problem in presuming Mr. Azevedo's reportage from rookie camp is on the level, which suggests that Jay Feaster might not have been completely sincere in his past professions of belief that his number one stopper was of elite status. That's the correct approach in my view, because no matter what people want to believe or what his cheerleaders might care to suggest, Miikka Kiprusoff hasn't been within hailing distance of elite during the last several seasons.
 
That leaves the club with a fairly intractable problem for this year, since they weren't able to move Kipper and they haven't yet begun the dismantling of the club that next summer might well bring. Absent him pulling out a season from the depths of time, his recent work strongly hints that Miikka Kiprusoff will hinder whatever good the Flames' skaters are capable of achieving in 2011/12. 

 

 

1a1030a8151ca7a0d81aea58f0fb1dbc
Robert Cleave is a perpetually grumpy Winnipegger.
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#1 loudogYYC
July 27 2011, 12:24AM
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Robert,

I've been reading your articles and what you have to say about the Redhead. I admit I'm a big fan of Kipper, but numbers don't lie and he's getting worse.

My question to you is: do you see a big turnaround in his game IF he plays less than 60 games next season, or do you think he's the next Marty Turco?

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#2 Justin Azevedo
July 27 2011, 12:36AM
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I'll have my thesis on the subject up tomorrow at Matchsticks, but basically I completely agree with you: http://hockeyandbooze.tumblr.com/post/7934611662

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#4 Craig
July 27 2011, 06:38AM
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Considering these stats, and acknowledging the small small sample size of Henrik Karlosson, is there any way to see if the Calgary Tower would be doing a bettr job? If he can play even 10 more games and have a decent even strength save % that could help significantly.

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#5 Ryan Popilchak
July 27 2011, 07:30AM
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Great post Robert. Couldn't agree more. We all loved Kipper for the cup run in '04 and a run of stellar seasons, but we've been in denial for a while.

I was encouraged by the fact Feaster and Sutter said they felt Karlsson could be a starter in the league. Hopefully they give him some extra minutes this season to find out.

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#6 Scott
July 27 2011, 08:50AM
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I don't fully disagree with you, but no matter how great the Flames outshoot the opposition, when you end up having the likes of Getzlaf and Perry bearing down on Staios and Mikkelson, Kipper is hard pressed to get defensive support. Outside of Gio and Reggie, our defensemen were pretty laughable last year. I won't use the lack of back checking forwards either, because it's hard to compare that against other teams to determine who did and who didn't have that support. But overall team defense let this team down last year, even with all the bright offensive work this team did.

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#7 John F
July 27 2011, 09:10AM
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While much of the discussion with many of the regulars is most often focused on the perceived lack of scoring,the facts don't support what many seem to feel is the issue with the team. On the other hand there has been a feeling that without Kipper we would have fared much worse. During the 2010/11 season it became increasingly apparent that contrary to the general fans feeling that the Flames were a team that lacked scoring and was "old and slow" I always contended that the problems resided primarily (but certainly not only)with the quality of goaltending. Your analysis would appear to bear this out. I understand why down the stretch this past spring why Brent would rely exclusively on Kipper but I believe that and some key injuries cost the team a more legitimate shot at the post season. The past 2 years the team missed the playoffs by only a few points and better goaltending would have made the difference. Kipper is a bit of a "sacred cow" in this city but I think your analysis clearly shows there is a need to begin to move into the post Kipper era, with at least moving to a 1A/1B system barring a major turnaround in his performance.

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#8 Rain Dogs
July 27 2011, 09:17AM
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Interesting post, but I have some questions. Specifically about sample size vs skill, shot quality, luck, team.

Before that, I will say that to my eye Kipper didn't have a great year last year, but neither did the team.

1. Sample size: We've got Kipper at .917 for this past season and .925 (6th) for his time in Calgary. I'm not sure why we're panicking about a .008 difference comparing a small sample to a large one?

2. Shot Quality: According to this article:

http://www.puckprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=540

There is a correlation between the teams doing more outshooting and the higher quality of shots against. Surely, we'll see outliers, but your list of Howard, Ellis, Kipper, Brodeur, Niemi, Fleury and Crawford and compare them. Niemi appears an outlier and then consider those other goalie's teams/standings.

Is it a more open game and goalies getting "hung out to dry?"

3. Next, Luck.

according to this article:http://www.puckprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=558

No skill in goaltending, it's all luck. Perhaps better said there isn't much disparity in goaltending currently and skill gets you to .900 and the distinction between .900 and .940 is more luck and team together than skill? Or why we need large sample sizes to reduce the noise.

4. Team. Calgary is a middling team with ever decreasing skill on defense and increasing age up front. Now that Regehr is gone to we expect Kipper to be better or worse? As the team gets worse and older, do we really expect Kipper to get younger and better? If worse, than what does it say about quality of team? Quick back-checking teams seem to eliminate those second and third chances... that doesn't sound like Calgary.

As well, if we've had so many backups over the years and not one has been within reaching distance of Kipper. WHY?

That is the closest control we've got the back-up. If Kipper were on Boston (with two goalies with excellent sv%) do we assume his sv% to be the same as on Calgary? On Edmonton? I don't. Luongo and Schneider same ev sv%

So Karlsson. He sported a .905evsv%. That's what ~1million dollar goaltending gets us. Why did we re-sign him?

If Kipper is the weakest link, then is Karlsson the weakest, weakest link? But two more years? Surely Irving could do better? Or McL. Or ...

Maybe there is more to it than only sv% (the one-stat-small-sample-size-argument). Maybe it has a lot to do with the whole team, shot quality, back pressure and bad luck.

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#9 Luc
July 27 2011, 09:18AM
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Scott wrote:

I don't fully disagree with you, but no matter how great the Flames outshoot the opposition, when you end up having the likes of Getzlaf and Perry bearing down on Staios and Mikkelson, Kipper is hard pressed to get defensive support. Outside of Gio and Reggie, our defensemen were pretty laughable last year. I won't use the lack of back checking forwards either, because it's hard to compare that against other teams to determine who did and who didn't have that support. But overall team defense let this team down last year, even with all the bright offensive work this team did.

I think that he was suggesting based on the shootin numbers of the team, that it wasn't in fact completely inferior defending that was leading to his lackluster numbers. Kipper has been a decreasing asset for a number of years now and people ( read GM ) need to realize it.

Woulda looked good in a Philly uniform......

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#10 ALL THE WAY IN
July 27 2011, 09:18AM
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Ouch Bobby. Very Ouch. Thanks for the persecptive, but why do you think people (Flames fans) think he is so good, if he is so bad?

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#11 Rain Dogs
July 27 2011, 09:28AM
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Oh yeah and this

"Miikka Kiprusoff hasn't been within hailing distance of elite during the last several seasons."

isn't correct. He had elite numbers in 09/10 finishing with a raw .920sv% and a .928evsv%

remember... Toskala (3.5mil) was .880 raw and .902evsv% the same year?

Sure, last year wasn't elite, but his largest sample (7 years) is .925 and the last two years is .923.

Maybe he is a .923 goalie on Calgary trending down with a team going the same direction. Or maybe he's slightly worse.

There will be a time when we move beyond Kiprusoff. He's still given us the Best to 6th best goaltending in the league from 03/04 to today by career numbers.

Last season wasn't good and hopefully he can bounce back.... but look at the Flames, seriously, I doubt it.

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#12 Kevin R
July 27 2011, 09:38AM
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I'm a huge Kipper fan, end of story, and I do agree to some extent with Rain Dogs but I think reality is somewhere in the middle. Anyone remember that 1st round playoff against Detroit when Playfair was coach and Kipper was absolutely un freaking believable even though we got absolutely pounded in Detroit. He also individually won the 2 games in Calgary to tie the series 2-2 leading to that debacle in game 5 in Detroit. What does Daryl due that summer, brings in Mike friggin Keenan, one of the worst coaches on the planet from a goalie standpoint. Since then, this analysis totally sums up Kipper. I believe Kipper can be a money playoff goalie yet, but unfortunately it breaks my heart to say not with the Flames. This guy needs a change and a significant reduction in work load to Karlson is the prelude to a trade next summer (short of any miraculous Flames run in 2011-12).

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#13 Kent Wilson
July 27 2011, 09:42AM
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@Rain Dogs

The back-up comment is an interesting one and worth investigation.

That said, what the rest of your questions suggest to me is it doesn't make any sense to spend 5.83M on goalie.

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#14 Scott
July 27 2011, 09:49AM
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@Kent Wilson

I think in regards to this team and where it's headed, that it does not make any sense to spend that kind of money on a goalie.

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#15 Rain Dogs
July 27 2011, 09:57AM
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@Kent Wilson

Yes and No.

I think what we both agree is it makes no sense to pay 5.83M on today's Miikka Kiprusoff

But when he lead the league three consecutive years in evsv% it sure did, right? Maybe even more money!

It also doesn't make sense to pay 7 million on today's Jarome Iginla and 6.5 on today's Jay Bouwmeester.

As well, we know what 900k goaltending gets us - Karlsson, McL, McClennan

We know what 3 million got us - Toskala.

I'd LOVE it if we could take 2.83 million out of Kipper's contract and spend it and more on a third defender since we don't have one, but that's not reality. Probably Kipper looks at his results and feels like he's not earn(ING) his money, but certainly feels like he earn(ED) it.

Here's a question: Who can come in for half the price of Kipper and guarantee a playoff spot on THIS TEAM.

I'd love to have that goalie, but I'm not convinced that goalie exists when he's placed in Kiprusoff's skates especially when we just look at a chart of numbers from completely different teams.

I'll be watching Vokoun and Bryzgalov with a LOT of interest this year.

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#16 Eric
July 27 2011, 10:21AM
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Let's try reducing his minutes and putting more of the load on Karlsson or Irving - whoever can handle it - before we talk about dumping Kiprusoff; or for that matter, blaming the team's failures on him. We're not far removed from a time when he would single-handedly win 10-15 games a year by standing on his head. But it has long been pondered how Kiprusoff would benefit from a 55-60 game schedule, rather than 72-74. Tim Thomas just won his second Vezina trophy with just 57 games played. The year of his first Vezina he played a mere 54. Luongo is another example, he was down to 60 games this year from 68 and was voted as one of the top 3 tenders in the league. This is what Brent Sutter must do with our aging Finn.

This theory also makes sense if we ever hope to replace him. Henrik Karlsson, Leland Irving, and Joni Ortio all show promise. However, they will never fully develop if they are not given quality NHL time. 7-12 games a year will not cut it, lest Jay Feaster aspires to create another Curtis McElhinney. Again, using Vancouver as an example, Cory Schneider played a career high 25 games this past season, and it's a general consensus in the hockey world that the Canucks could trade him at the deadline for a very high yield. In our case, I think Flames fans would be happy simply seeing a replacement emerge for #34. The same way in our wildest dreams, one will someday emerge for #12.

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#17 the-wolf
July 27 2011, 10:42AM
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Definately hard stats to argue against, but Rain Dogs sure makes some good points too.

I've always been a Kipper supporter, but now, even agreeing with some of Rain Dogs comments, it's obvious the writing is on the wall and that Kipper's best days are behind him.

Just like Iginla, he needs to go.

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#18 FireOnIce
July 27 2011, 10:51AM
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The fact that from 07/08 to 10/11 both Steve Mason and Dwayne Roloson have outperformed Kipper at tied-ES% should be shocking enough to convince anyone that Kipper isn't as good as he needs to be.

Mason has been godawful since his Calder win in 08/09 and still outperforms Kipper. Roloson is like 100 years old. Hell, Kipper only barely outperformed Marty Turco.

Seriously, Kipper probably needs to lay off the smokes.

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#19 Flamin Cannot's
July 27 2011, 10:55AM
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I know this comment doesn't not belong in this thread...But why the hell didn't fat Jay trade Stajan and or Hgaman for a bag of pucks and keep Regher? Sure some teams won't take Stajan's salary but some would take Hagman...We would basically have the same amount of cap space minus 1.5 mill or so...

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#20 Vintage Flame
July 27 2011, 10:57AM
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Great article Bob. Knocked it out of the park once again.

There are a lot of interesting comments on this topic. Good read and some very valid points. Enjoyed reading Rain Dogs outlook especially. Made a very interesting comment about what goalie could come onto "this team" and guarantee we make the playoffs?

I remember earlier in the year I thought there were so many people completely out to lunch about their criticisms of Kipper, but then the more the season went on and the more his underlying numbers were discussed, the more I saw the light. I think the tell tale was when it was shown that during the 2nd half of the year when the Flames were on the attempted miracle run, Kipper had a Sv% of something like .818? [Correct me if I'm wrong please Kent.]

However I believe I see the other side of the coin as well, which brings me back to comments made by Scott, in that was a determining factor to Kipper's "decline" any way related to a decline in defensive cooperation and responsibility?

On the live chats, we were constantly moaning over a blown coverage or out of position Sarich or Staios or Babchuck or even J-Bo. Could Kipper's numbers be a victim of those circumstances at all? I'm not drawing conclusions. It's more of a question for Kent or Bob.. or anyone else for that matter.

So conflicted on Kipper now. Yes I would love to see the Flames be able to deal him and reduce the Cap hit from a declining aging goalie, but as Rain Dogs said, then what? What is our better option?

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#21 maimster
July 27 2011, 10:59AM
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Anyone doubting Robert's analysis needs to think back over the past few years and replay Kipper's play in their mind (using their mind's eye, not their mind's heart). How many times did you find yourself saying "that wasn't a bad goal, but I wish Kipper had been able to stop it".

Those goals are the difference between elite and mediocre. All goalies give up bad goals and all make great saves. It's the great unwashed middle that makes the difference. Kipper simply averages a goal allowed or so every couple of games that makes you think "too bad he couldn't have gotten that one". If you're an apologist, you'll say it was because the shot was just THAT good, or the defense messed up just A BIT too much. However, a realist wakes up after four years of it and says "wow, the numbers agree exactly with what I've seen".

I love Kipper and he's always going to be considered an all-timer in my mind for his part in raising the Flames from their 97-03 death spiral. But he's now simply average to below average. And the worst news for the Flames this offseason was the Flyers signing Bryzgalov and the Caps signing Vokoun - those were two teams I hoped tempted by memory and not results.

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#22 Vintage Flame
July 27 2011, 11:00AM
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Flamin Cannot's wrote:

I know this comment doesn't not belong in this thread...But why the hell didn't fat Jay trade Stajan and or Hgaman for a bag of pucks and keep Regher? Sure some teams won't take Stajan's salary but some would take Hagman...We would basically have the same amount of cap space minus 1.5 mill or so...

Well Hagman IS being shopped around so that answers that question. As for Stajan, he has a NTC so it's one thing to WANT to trade him, but he has to agree to it.

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#23 Flamin Cannot's
July 27 2011, 11:07AM
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Vintage Flame wrote:

Well Hagman IS being shopped around so that answers that question. As for Stajan, he has a NTC so it's one thing to WANT to trade him, but he has to agree to it.

My point is it would have been better to trade or waive Stajan and or Hagman and keep Regher...

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#24 ALL THE WAY IN
July 27 2011, 11:23AM
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If Kipper is so bad, why do a large portion of hockey fans regard him as a top 5 goalie in the league? Even my family in Edmonton and Vancouver say Kipper is a world class goalie and goodluck getting them to say anything nice about the Flames.

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#25 everton fc
July 27 2011, 11:52AM
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Haven't yet read all comments... But did read the article last evening and have a few comments/thoughts.

1. Is Kipper logging more minutes and games than the others he is compared to above? 2. If so... how much of a factor has this been in his supposed "demise"? 3. If we had a decent backup on a consistent basis... Would Kipper be in the top 5 in all these stack-ranked categories?? 4. Kipper will be 35 on 26 October. I have posted this before, but he'd be someone I'd shop and move, if need be. I like Kipper, and tend to think he is one of the better clutch goalies in the league, regardless of stat-data. But at 35, he's already well into the twilight of his career. Some team might have had an interest, or may have an interest.... Like say, the Panthers. 5. A look at the current defencemen in Florida also leaves room to perhaps move a d-man over there, with Kipper, at no expense to the Flames. Or, perhaps package Kipper with Hagman? Perhaps a guy like Mike Santorelli could come over... Or Weiss... Though Santorelli may give the same #'s... with a much cheaper price tag.

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#26 Jeff In Lethbridge
July 27 2011, 12:06PM
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Personally, I think Kipper was hung out to dry last season by the team.

When i think back to last year, the thing I remember most (as being frustrating) was how often our defense let apposing forwards gain middle ice/prime shooting areas.

I also remember a couple of occasions where i thought to myself that Kipper actually cost the team the game... which over the years has been rare for the finn.

however, for the most part I believe our poor defensive coverage accounts for a fair to large portion of Kipper's poor stats. that's what happens when you regularly allow shots from center ice, 10 to 15 feet out.

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#27 everton fc
July 27 2011, 12:11PM
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I thought our defence was average, at best, all season. The games I saw, Reggie looked to be the one really giving the opposition a tough time. Sarich was much malinged here, but did "giver", as well. Gio's minus # was a bit alarming; people tried to pin the blame on the pairing with Sarich. But Sarich was in the plus.

I know there's been analysis to "justify" Gio's minus #... But we did not look "tough" on defence last season. Bouwmeester stood out on the wrong side of the equation, many times for his price tag.

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#28 Kevin R
July 27 2011, 12:48PM
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everton fc wrote:

I thought our defence was average, at best, all season. The games I saw, Reggie looked to be the one really giving the opposition a tough time. Sarich was much malinged here, but did "giver", as well. Gio's minus # was a bit alarming; people tried to pin the blame on the pairing with Sarich. But Sarich was in the plus.

I know there's been analysis to "justify" Gio's minus #... But we did not look "tough" on defence last season. Bouwmeester stood out on the wrong side of the equation, many times for his price tag.

Well I think you just mentioned the 2nd elephant in the room. JBO & his 6.68mill contract. He plays lots of tough minutes but his success ratio could be handled by someone at a lot cheaper of a cap hit. So 2 players representing 12.0mill are not providing the performance numbers expected from players commanding the $$$ & % of cap hit. Was last year just a bad year? Lets see what happens this year and I think the tone & discussions by February pertaining to the future will be real interesting. I stand by giving Feaster this year before bestowing judgement on his GM abilities.

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#29 Emir
July 27 2011, 01:17PM
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@maimster

How many times did you find yourself saying "that wasn't a bad goal, but I wish Kipper had been able to stop it". Could not agree more. Ive been in Croatia/Bosnia for the past three weeks and had to sound off finally. The thing for me is that Kipper still has elite talent and still makes big time saves, but now more often than not he lets a soft one in and we always justify it by the big stop that he has made earlier. He just isnt as consistent in a single game as he used to be, if he can bring his consistency back he can easily be a top 3 goalie in the league. But thats hoping, realistically not much is changing. As for the 3 million dollar goalie being crap, well not these days. Heck you can have Vokoun for a million... BTW, I was seriouslly unimpressed when I got internet access after being gone for 2 weeks to see the garbage signings and trading our 5th for a POS on skates. not cool Jay...

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#30 Casey
July 27 2011, 01:37PM
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@Flamin Cannot's

Hagman was on waivers last year. Anybody could have had him (and his contract) for free. There were no takers. That means that Feaster would have had to *pay* another team to take him.

Hagman only has 1 year left on his $3M contract. Stajan has 3 more years @ $3.5M. If Hagman can clear waivers, then clearly Stajan would as well. The price to get another team to take Stajan off our hands would be much higher than for Hagman.

Feaster is damned if he does, and damned if he doesn't. He has Sutter's mismanagement to thank for that.

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#31 Casey
July 27 2011, 01:48PM
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ALL THE WAY IN wrote:

If Kipper is so bad, why do a large portion of hockey fans regard him as a top 5 goalie in the league? Even my family in Edmonton and Vancouver say Kipper is a world class goalie and goodluck getting them to say anything nice about the Flames.

No offense intended to your family, but I don't think you'll find a knowledgeable hockey fan anywhere that thinks Kipper is currently top 5 in the NHL. Maybe he was 4 years ago, but not right now.

His name does not currently belong with Price, Lundqvist, Bryzgalov, Miller, Thomas, Quick, Rinne, etc.

All stats aside, Kipper used to be "money". If the game was on the line, he made the big save. He won games on his own. He seems to have lost that intangible quality. Soft goals are now almost expected.

I'm a Kiprusoff fan, but I really think that it is a major stretch to call him anything more than top 15 in the NHL right now. That is still one of the best goalies in the world, but he is clearly not elite at the moment. I would still take him over Luongo... :-)

Could he rebound? Yes. He is only 34 and Thomas and Roloson are proof that he could still have several years left at the highest levels.

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#32 Vintage Flame
July 27 2011, 02:01PM
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@Casey

This is true. You also have to remember Vancouver fans think 7uongo is an elite goaltender, which he is clearly not.

He needs a super-team in front of him to win anything and on the Canucks he is the beneficiary of strong defense and forwards that keep the puck out of his zone. In short, the guy is junk.

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#33 Justin Azevedo
July 27 2011, 02:06PM
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@Casey

Chris Pronger has him as the third best goalie in the league. Perception is reality, right?

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#34 FireOnIce
July 27 2011, 02:33PM
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Sometimes I wish Kipper showed more emotion than he does. It seems to me that whenever the other team scores, whether it be the game winner, or the first goal, whatever, that he just sort of gets up, drinks vodka from his water bottle, and contemplates his intermission smoke.

Some might call that composure, but perhaps it really is a lack of emotion. At least with Karlsson we got the fist pump whenever he stopped a shootout attempt. Look at someone like Pekka Rinne - the dude gets out of position, lets in a bad goal, and freaks out. Tim Thomas does a similar thing. Those guys show heart, Kipper does not (at least in my eyes).

People try to pin the blame on one part of our team - the goalie, the defense, the forwards. In fact, I think it's all three - subpar goaltending, slow defense, and lazy non-backchecking forwards.

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#35 ALL THE WAY IN
July 27 2011, 02:58PM
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I think its Kippers unique ability to make outstanding, highlight reel saves at timely occasions that separates him from other goalies in his stat bracket. The knock that I can agree with is that "clutch" Kipper takes days off and looks he like a mid range goalie, but still shows flashes a brilliance within a 60min game that isn't measured by any stat shown. If Flames have a sub-par season, I say trade him, but don't trade my boy Iggy.

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#36 the-wolf
July 27 2011, 03:17PM
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Agree with comments that fans get distracted by the 'impossible' saves. He then lets in 1 or 2 soft ones, but we tend to think, yeah, but look at those other 'impossible' saves.

At the end of the day though, it comes down to it doesn't matter how, just how many and the stats seem to conclusively bear out that the odd brilliant save isn't enough to counter all the softies.

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#37 Michael
July 27 2011, 03:26PM
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We simply play the guy to much, every year they talk about playing the backup more, but every year they are in the hunt and need points... and Kipper ends up in the net.

In the past Kipper has made the Flames look better than I think they really were. Last year he had an average season and showed up the Flames for what they really are, a middle of the pack club.

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#38 Eric
July 27 2011, 03:33PM
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Casey wrote:

Hagman was on waivers last year. Anybody could have had him (and his contract) for free. There were no takers. That means that Feaster would have had to *pay* another team to take him.

Hagman only has 1 year left on his $3M contract. Stajan has 3 more years @ $3.5M. If Hagman can clear waivers, then clearly Stajan would as well. The price to get another team to take Stajan off our hands would be much higher than for Hagman.

Feaster is damned if he does, and damned if he doesn't. He has Sutter's mismanagement to thank for that.

I think there's a different set of circumstances right now as it pertains to Hagman. He is actually being shopped by Feaster at present. There are a few teams that will struggle to reach the cap floor this summer because of a shallow UFA pool. Right now, most teams are waiting it out to see what arbitration hearings will bring. However, I think come late August, Hagman might be one of the best possible options for a team that's a few million short of the league minimum. If it's a choice between an overpaid but still proven 3rd line guy a year removed from 25 goals, or someone who will be a liability, the Flames could suddenly be in the position to not just unload, but receive a mid level pick.

The landscape of this league changes so frequently, no one really knows what could become of Hagman or Stajan.

That said, if Hagman is still around by the fall, the demand will change once again. He will become an undesirable once more and likely go unclaimed on waivers and head to the AHL for most - if not all - of the season. It's completely a wait-and-see thing.

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#39 Sworkhard
July 27 2011, 03:54PM
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Kipper had a .900 sv% from the start of the season to Jan 19, then from Jan 22 to Mar 17 he had a .922 sv%. Then, from March 20 to the end of season he had a .893 sv%. His worst save % came when he looked tired and overplayed at the end of the season. If they can play him 55-60 games this year instead of 70-75, I think there's a decent chance he'll end up with a .917 or better save % for 2011-2012 all other things being equal. Given there is a correlation between Shots Against and Save % (lower SA = lower SV%), that would move him from about a 17th place (out of the 25 that played 50 or more games) to top 5-8 in my opinion. There is almost no correlation between SA and GA, but there is between SA and SV% indicating that scoring chance save percentage is probably a much better stat to look at for goalie performance than save percentage, regardless of the other circumstances.

For much of the season Kipper wasn't necessarily the weakest link, but he was the most important link, and as such, arguably didn't perform up to his contract.

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#40 Greg
July 27 2011, 04:20PM
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Couple of questions: 1) How much of his stats can be attributed to the horrific slump he hit in January last year? Ie, if you took that bad month or so out when even the fans and media were all over him, do his stats go back to middle of the pack? 2) are their any advanced stats that would help assess shot quality and could possibly be used to come up with a relative-sv% among goalies?

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#41 SmellOfVictory
July 27 2011, 04:51PM
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@Greg

Re: shot quality: The general rule of thumb is that shot quality does not differ significantly year-to-year or team-to-team in terms of what proportion of shots taken or given up are 'good' shots. If a team is bad, they tend to give up proportionately more shots overall rather than simply a greater proportion of high quality shots.

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#42 Potlicker
July 27 2011, 05:55PM
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Trade deadline people is better than Christmas. Tis the season when GM's go mad & overpay. It's when buddy Jay needs to blow the SOB up if we are bottom 3rd in the league. Iggy, Kipper, Sarich, Langkow, Joker, Bourque. No one is untouchable. You may want to grab your private parts but embrace the fact that Calgary has nothing to attract prime free agents, Edmonton is starting to have more attraction than Calgary because they now have pieces that can go the way of Chicago or Pitt. The quicker we can clear out the geriatric ward the quicker fans will become excited about the future of this hockey club. With the exception of Stajan, the day of salary dumps should be over for this franchise after 2011-12 season.

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#43 SmellOfVictory
July 27 2011, 06:32PM
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@Potlicker

Salary dumps will be entirely unnecessary for next offseason since most of the Flames' players are UFA. Any trade made at the deadline should be for assets, and only assets.

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#44 Sworkhard
July 27 2011, 06:51PM
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SmellOfVictory wrote:

Re: shot quality: The general rule of thumb is that shot quality does not differ significantly year-to-year or team-to-team in terms of what proportion of shots taken or given up are 'good' shots. If a team is bad, they tend to give up proportionately more shots overall rather than simply a greater proportion of high quality shots.

If it's true that a bad team will give up proportionally more bad shots, why do we care about scoring chances. We've seen it a lot that one team would outshoot the other significantly but the outshooting team would have fewer or similar scoring chances. To me sv% as a raw number doesn't mean much, as there is a correlation between sv% and shots against, but isn't really one for shots against and goals against. I'm sure if someone did the work, they would find that there is a lot better correlation between scoring chances and GA than SA and GA.

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#45 otto
July 27 2011, 07:06PM
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Shots on goal don't tell the whole story.In a game against Van last year(Jan 5)we lost 3-1 but out shot them 44-21 and Kent had the scoring chances at 13-10.Luongo padded his stats with 31 easy saves while 1/2 the shots Kipper faced were quality chances.

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#46 Rain Dogs
July 27 2011, 08:26PM
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@otto

+1....The problem with looking at sv% and comparing evenly across teams is assuming that all teams are equal environments - an unsafe assumption.

Boston. They allowed 32.7SA/game last year 29th in the league! Are they the 29st best defensive team? They're worse then the Islanders? No way. I'd assert that not all teams are equal, but how much difference exists: I don't know!

Comparing sv% across teams should be secondary information to comparing within the team. In fact, against career should preface against other teams.

BOS evsv% - Thomas .947, Rask .925, VAN evsv% - Luongo .934, Schneider .933

Why are they so high? Cause they're good teams! Team sv% vs goalie have any value?

Logically, this makes sense. Kipper always plays 10-15 more games than is the goal at the beginning of the season. If he was the weakest link.... then are the coaches insane?

This isn't Turco getting usurped by Crawford, This isn't Huet getting usurped by Niemi, This isn't Goalie B out playing Kipper. Instead of Kipper preventing us from being in the playoffs, what if Kipper is preventing us from being worse?

Comparing Miikka to any goalie on Boston (or other quality teams) doesn't really tell us anything except Boston is waaaay better than Calgary even without Thomas in net.

Ok, I already know that.

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#47 SmellOfVictory
July 27 2011, 10:35PM
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@Sworkhard

My understanding is that fenwick/corsi are strongly correlated with scoring chances, and since both are just indicators of shots taken, we can logically conclude that sv% (based on shots) is nearly as accurate as a true scoring chance/sv% measure.

Scoring chances are certainly better, but not by a wide enough margin to say "Kiprusoff was a good goaltender last season and that fact was just hidden due to the ineptitude of the team in front of him."

That's my understanding, anyway. Scoring chances may differ heavily from the shot count on a game-to-game basis, or even for streaks, but once you have a large enough sample size, like most things, they will even out. 82 games, or 2000+ shots per side, should be a large enough sample size for that to occur. (I'm admittedly half-assing my background info here, so I hope if I'm going the wrong direction with this, someone more dedicated/knowledgeable will correct my post)

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#48 Puffy
July 28 2011, 06:36AM
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Good information and all, however does it have indication of the quality of the shots/chances involved?

Who's not to say the Flames are good at blocking/limiting shots, but prone to second chance goals that should have been cleared away, or defensive breakdowns that lead to a 1v1, or odd man rush?

Also... the flames by the eye seem, to play like a team on the perimeter as opposed to by the hash marks, or in the circles. A lot of the games last year, the flames did not 'feel' dangerous on the attack, even when getting control and shots on net.

Even though I know the information provided is accurate, I don't think it paints the whole story. I do think Kipper has declined, but I definitely don't think he is the reason for the flames downfall.

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#49 ChinookArch
July 28 2011, 08:01AM
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Greg wrote:

Couple of questions: 1) How much of his stats can be attributed to the horrific slump he hit in January last year? Ie, if you took that bad month or so out when even the fans and media were all over him, do his stats go back to middle of the pack? 2) are their any advanced stats that would help assess shot quality and could possibly be used to come up with a relative-sv% among goalies?

This is pretty much what I was thinking. I'd really like to see his performance stats form January to the end of the year. I didn't see much of a differnce in his play, but the rest of the team sure raised their level of compete and confidence. I can only count 3 players that played consistently throughout 2010/11 on the Flames: Tanguay, Jackman and Kiprusoff.

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#50 Rain Dogs
July 28 2011, 09:18AM
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@SmellOfVictory

Even if this is true, there has to be a distinction amongst teams, and I've yet to see it enter that equation. That Puck Prospecus article I linked ^^^^ is quite elegant. It makes sense why Roberto Luongo could go from a awful FLA team to an increasingly excellent VAN team and see his sv% on average drop. Or how Minnesota would always be a counter attack team and say "we make our shots count" (as if they are trying harder?!?!)

Puck pursuit on the back-check (something CGY is horrendous at) Young... Fast... Tenacious.

Hypothetically. If one team plays five forwards and every other SA is a breakaway yet they get 40 SF a night, your goalie is going to have about a .788sv% and your team will have a impressive FOR/AGAINST %. (an extreme example that doesn't exist)

Higher shot ratio the better at any cost, and if the goalie lags behind, he's the weak link.

And defense does...? back-check pressure is important...?

Again, (sorry for repitition) if your primary comparison is vs all CGY tenders you start getting a truer idea of the "level" CGY goalies are facing. Do they ALL suck?

Kipper didn't have a great year but he doesn't play in a vacuum.

If we start seeing Kipper play less than we expect (like a Huet), vs his annual 10-15 games more than we initially plan (because we can't lose) then the numbers will be backed up. Until then, I remain skeptical his decline is SOLELY him and that his personal decline is as vast as numbers may suggest.

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