Photo Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Rittich comes out on top in midseason review of goals against Calgary

Calgary’s 2018-19 starting goaltending issue that persisted for what felt like forever has definitely sorted itself out. Onward from about 32 games into the season, David Rittich has taken the reigns as the Flames’ de facto number one goalie.

As the Flames enjoy their rest before closing out the season and ideally a deep playoff run, now was a good time to revisit a previous data visualisation on Calgary’s goaltenders that I made earlier in the season. 

Back then, after 18 games played, the Flames had given up 56 goals against. Now at nearly triple the games later, they’ve tightened up their goals against and are sitting at a comfortable 145, good for 12th lowest in the league. They’ll have to give up 23 goals in their next three games to match their 18-game pace.

So how have Rittich and Mike Smith been in net for the Flames? Rittich has played 30 games (27 starts) compared to Smith’s 25 (24 starts). Yet, with three extra starts, Rittich’s still given up fewer goals than his counterpart.

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With 145 total goals against, there’s definitely enough goals to compare the goalies with. The visualisation breaks down the how goals have been scored on the Flames’ goaltending tandem and tells the season story. Goals are broken up by situation, as well as danger (when applicable) as determined by Natural Stat Trick.

As previously mentioned, Rittich’s given up fewer goals than Smith, despite playing more games. They’re actually fairly close in terms of goals allowed, so the breakdown immediately shows what types of shots beat which goaltender more often.

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At even strength and on the penalty kill, Rittich tends to give up more low-danger goals than Smith does; however, the inverse is true for high-danger shots. Smith gives up the bulk of high-danger goals and this has been true for much of the season. Rittich has excelled in terms of making high-danger saves and has earned a good reputation for doing so.

Penalty kill

A total of 34 power play goals have been scored on the Flames’ 21st-ranked penalty kill. Despite Smith being better at low- and medium-danger shots, most shots on a power play tend to be higher danger, and Rittich undoubtedly has that locked down. His high-danger SV% on the penalty kill is better than Smith’s overall penalty kill SV%. That goes to show that Rittich’s been a big factor in preventing a lot of power play goals against.

Danger Rittich SV% Smith SV%
Low 0.818 0.880
Medium 0.865 0.920
High 0.815 0.645
Overall 0.835 0.802

Even strength

At even strength, the Flames have allowed 100 goals. While Rittich has given up more low-danger goals, his SV% isn’t too far from Smith’s. Both goalies are actually below league average, but stopping low-danger shots at a 95%+ efficiency isn’t going to cause much disdain.

The larger difference between the goalies is their medium- and high-danger performances. Rittich has been far better. Even with more playing time, Rittich has Smith beat in both SV% as well as total goals allowed in those situations.

Danger Rittich SV% Smith SV%
Low 0.956 0.964
Medium 0.949 0.901
High 0.863 0.797
Overall 0.930 0.901

Power play

Last time I made the visualisation, Smith had given up one low- and one medium-danger shorthanded goal. Now Rittich has given up two shorthanded goals of his own, but both of them were high-danger. However, giving up just four shorthanded goals against has the Flames right in the middle of league; they’re tied at 10th lowest shorthanded goals against with six other teams.

Danger Rittich SV% Smith SV%
Low 1.000 0.667
Medium 1.000 0.875
High 0.778 1.000
Overall 0.930 0.901

Other scenarios

Smith gave up one penalty shot goal to Andreas Athanasiou when they were in Detroit. The Flames have given up four empty net goals trying to mount a comeback, and two goals against were credited courtesy of their two shootout losses to Washington and Tampa Bay.

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The takeaway

It’s pretty clear now more than ever that Rittich has put together one of the best seasons for any Flames goaltender in recent memory. In fact, he might even be considered for the Vezina Trophy come June. The visualisation definitively shows that he’s been better than Smith, but he’s actually been much better than the majority of NHL goaltenders.

The Flames have comfort knowing Rittich is backstopping them to victory more often than not, and they’ll look to make a big splash to end the season. Wherever they end up in the standings and postseason, one thing is certain: we all owe Big Save Dave a big massive jumping hug.

  • Jobu

    Jobu was looking at club stats today. Flames are currently
    – MOST Giveaways in the NHL
    – 3rd MOST Takeaways
    – 3rd BEST in Faceoff Wins
    – 4th LAST in Blocked Shots
    – LAST in Hits
    – 3rd BEST in Faceoff Win Percentage
    – 2nd in Shooting percentage
    – 11th MOST PIMs per game
    – 7th best Goals Against per game
    – 2nd Best Goals for per game
    – 15th Best in shots for per game
    – 4th Best in shots against per game
    – 8th best PP
    – 11th WORST PK

    This tells Jobu a few things.
    – Despite not blocking shots, the number and quality of shots is still extremely low.
    – Were in the box too much. Byng Effect? Wideman Effect? Our PK isn’t good enough to take this many penalties… something to cleanup here.
    – The number of giveaways needs to be lessened, though this is likely a cause of Peters’ quick-up-ice approach. Number of takeaways balances this out somewhat.
    – We don’t hit – likely because Peters doesn’t want his players to be caught tangled up or out of position. This would also attribute to the number of takeaways as were playing the puck/pass more than the body.

    Food for thought (and comment).

    • Brian McGrattan's Salute

      Wow! Thanks for this. Very interesting. Worst at giveaways eh? That’s pretty nuts. We’re generally really good at takeaways, as you’ve pointed out, especially in the offensive zone. I wonder how many of our giveaways are from the neutral zone? It seems like when we’re having our off games, the major problem is inability to transition from the d-zone to the o-zone, from bad passes through the neutral zone. I know Peters has mentioned this poor transition game from time to time: when we’re playing our best games, we aren’t too bad at this.

      I want to point out that, if I’m correct in my observations here, TJ Brodie is a huge asset to a strong transition game. The nights he’s having a monster of a game, he is playing extremely well in the transition side of the game, and allowing us to break out from the d-zone. He is the guy who would be racking up all of the “third assists” if that were a stat. Obviously Gio is good at this too, as is Andersson, but really TJ is the one that to me excels the most at this, and is why he is such a great player to have on our team. When he is hustling out there, with his great skating and passing skills, we are a much better team.

      I also think this is another asset that we now have over the Gio-Hamilton pairing, is a strong first pairing that can just move the gosh danged puck so well. Dougie gave it away far too much from what I remember. I am hoping that Hanafin can learn a thing or two from Brodie. The way the latter plays should hopefully help with Hanafin’s transition game, as it needs some work. I think Hamonic has also been a stellar passer this season compared to last, which could be for a variety of well documented reasons.

      But man, when we don’t play well, I really think its a suffering transition game, among other things, that get us down.

    • withachance

      Most of the ones that jump out are the cause of one thing: the Flames as one of the better possession teams in the league, has the puck for majority of the game. Easier to give away the puck when you always have it. Cant really block shots when you have the puck (although losing Russell doesnt help). Cant hit the other team when you have the puck.

      Also shout out to Ryan on F/O front. Mans a beast

      • Albertabeef

        Wow “Cant really block shots when you have the puck” what a ridiculous comment. It’s not like this team has been possession monsters. On average we get 3 more shots than our opponents. Good teams tend to outshoot us at times as well. There are plenty of shots that the boys could block and do somewhat. If you want to be more accurate you could say the boys are going after the puck instead of standing in the shooting lanes blocking shots. That would not sound so ridiculous. However chasing can be less useful than blocking at times, blocked shots can also end up in your net too.

        • wot96

          When you are in the shooting lanes blocking pucks you sometimes don’t block the puck or don’t block it entirely. Some goalies hate it because it obstructs their view of the shot and the puck. And sometimes the defender tips the puck. I think Brodie has had two own goals that way this year, not blocking necessarily but tipping them, certainly.

          I’m totally okay with blocking being down.

          • Albertabeef

            155, like I said we average 3 shots more per game(51×3=153 so I was real close). However it really seems like 20 or more teams really suck this year as opposed to 10-15. We don’t often out shoot the good teams in the league yet. We are getting out shot 20 games a year instead of 70 lol, it’s an improvement.

        • Flames fan since 83

          Blocking shots can also increase injuries. Hitting also increase potential injuries. As does fighting. (ask Frolik).
          Injuries = games lost.
          Have the Flames have been lucky to avoid the injury bug…. or smart?
          Results (71 points and leading the West) speak for itself. I’m good with what we are doing.

        • withachance

          Yes, the team can always block more shots, they are last in the league. Im saying because the team style and ability to keep play away from the defensive end means theres less opportunity to block shots – i mean it literally makes logical sense.

          Not giving the boys an out, just saying, you look at the top 10 teams with the most blocked shots, and its OTT, DAL, PHI, EDM, CHI, ARI, NYR. Do you want to be fans of any of those teams – I dont. Only decent teams at the top are like SJS and PIT.

  • Garry T

    If Detroit is interested in a top 4 D, we might want to make a move on Anasthiou. Good cap deal and his size, age etc fills a slot in Calgary. Get on the phone Tre.

  • Heeeeere’s Johnny

    Totally agree Rittich is the man. The curious thing about this statement is that I base that on the soft goals Smith gives up and if low danger = soft then Rittich let’s in more of those. So I think what this really says is stop the f’ing puck!

  • Em Durp Em Hrudey

    Tre has been working the phones with the Red wings Ken Holland. No I am not “pals” with Conroy like another poster on here, but my source is pretty reliable as we played together in Europe and he does know the right people in the organization. The holding point on what could be quite the blockbuster trade is Ken Hollands ask of one of the flames top 4 D as well as their first pick. 1 player potentially from the wings is a rental and the other has decent term left at a decent cap hit for his “scoring” ability. The first trade the Flames do will be with the Wings….

        • Em Durp Em Hrudey

          Would the team really miss Brodie. He is a “good player”, but I personally feel replaceable. Everyone who plays with Gio looks pretty good. If Brodie and what should be a very late 1st can bring in another top 6 scoring winger and goaltending insurance I am all for it. 25th-31st pick is not theoretically going to land you a stud. I feel a late 1st rounder, which is a gamble, for a bonifide sure thing already in the dance player is a no brainer. Just my thoughts.

          • HOCKEY83

            Did you see Howard play the Flames when Smith was in net…He made smith look like Vasilevski. He was Horrible. His GAA and save% might be a little better but smith has the same amount of wins in 9 less games. No thanks on Howard. Flames already have an old crappy back up

      • freethe flames

        If the Flames were to move Brodie in a trade like you suggest I think the deal would be more complex than you suggest. First both brodie and Nyquist have some form of NTC. It’s probably easy to expect that Nyquiats would say yes to a cup but I can’t imagine Brodie going sure trade me to a team doing a rebuild while we are in a cup hunt.
        Secondly the deal would need for the Flames to get a D back; say Kronwell as a rental. Kronwell also has to waive his limited NTC; everything I have read suggests he wants to retire wing. We would either have to add a decent prospect or add a conditional pick to the picture. We win the cup and Detroit gets our 3rd next year we don’t win and they get a 5th. If somehow all that came together the Flames could look like this:

        Would that make them more of a contender?

      • Speed Kills

        Both Mantha & Anthousiou are very good young players, but I believe Anthousiou maybe more versatile, he is listed as “C, LW, RW”(LHS) as Mantha is listed as a straight forward “RW”(LHS).

        • Albertabeef

          Giving up a top 4 D and not getting one back would not be a smart move heading into the playoffs. We have some forward depth but after Vali comes back up there is nobody left. I hope our GM is smarter than that.

          • The GREAT WW

            I could see Shillington being the odd man out.
            He has been playing like a future top 4 D, so there is that…..

            You can never have too many good young D……….unless the expansion draft is around the corner.

            We only have 4 forwards worth protecting and a boat load of D to protect. So trading a young D for a young stud forward makes sense…


        • Jumping Jack Flash

          I want Mantha just for a punching bag for Hamonic…I still consider his action while Hamonic was completely defenceless to be gutless and cowardice…no thanks.

  • Eggy

    I’ve spent a lot of time on this website the last couple years or so but just decided to start posting. I love talking about big trades the flames could potentially make but at the same time any players that we give up that’s worth anything is glue on this team and very important. And any prospects and picks shouldn’t be in play unless it’s a low round pick for a decent player that would be useful come playoff time. What I’m saying is this team is playing some really good hockey so don’t mess with what’s working and don’t shorten our future for something that might not even make us better

    • Em Durp Em Hrudey

      Disagree Eggy, buts thats why this is an open forum. Every team that has won the cup makes a trade going into the playoffs, whether they are playing good or not. Already established depth forwards are more valuable than late first round gambles.

      • Albertabeef

        Washington made one minor defense depth trade two weeks before the deadline last year. That is pretty much all we need to do. See how everyone performs together in the playoffs and make major adjustments in the offseason.

        • Em Durp Em Hrudey

          Actually they made 3 trades acquiring 4 players. 2 of them minor leaguers the other 2 being Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek. Yes all minor trades, depth trades, but trades none the less…..none the less, now I sound like Cassie Campbell ?

          • Albertabeef

            Right, minor trades. They gave up a third and a fifth round pick for minor depth pieces. If Stone is healthy we won’t need it. A top-ish AHL D on a two way for a 5th-7th round pick I’m okay with. Someone who can finish the season on the farm and help when/if needed. Maybe sign AOM to an ELC as last resort insurance. He is 41 4 6 10 +11 on what has been a sketchy defense core. Quietly doing your job is a good thing for a young defenceman like him.

          • Albertabeef

            Sorry 3, I couldn’t find the third one. One could assume that was an AHL deal. They did not add a Stasny or Tartar, or anyone else to upset their mojo.

  • Sterls

    Trading Brodie at this point makes zero sense to me. Why would Tre to do that to Gio? Gio’s top three seasons he has had Brodie as his D pairing. Leave him be at least until the off season, don’t mess with that chemistry mid season. Even then, I don’t trade Brodie in the off season. Why mess with one of the top D-pairings in the league in the middle of stanley cup window?

  • freethe flames

    Just finished watching the Rangers Flyers game: Hayes would be a yes if the deal was right. Simmonds based upon that game and the two against the Flames would be a definite no.

    • Speed Kills

      Ya I watched the game too just to scout them out, Not sure there is a huge step up fix for the flames between those two teams, pretty meh as far as available players go anyways.

  • Em Durp Em Hrudey

    Philadelphia Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said Monday that captain Claude Giroux is the lone untouchable….what would it take to get Carter Hart? Insurance goalie for playoffs? Parson and Hart…..wow that would look pretty good down the road.

  • Jourflamesfan

    @The Great WW

    You asked me if I was stupid.

    My answer to you laddie is this…

    I’m not an Oilers fan.

    So no. I’m not stupid.

    Good evenin’ to ya then ?

    • Jourflamesfan

      Oh and btw.

      Some of the words that you use are so eerily the same words that the other WW uses like ‘dum dum’ for example.
      No one else uses those words except both of you.

      You throw a stone into a pack of dogs the one who Yelps the loudest, is the one who got hit.

  • Em Durp Em Hrudey

    So yeah, with the trade talk, the exposure of WW infact being both WW’s, and other posted stats we lost sight of the actual article. BSD is rocking it. I personally, as posted in previous articles have 100% confidence in this man. My only concern is if he is injured, who backs up Smith. I am one of the few that still believes in Smith, but have no faith in Gillies. I still think a veteran trade deadline popcorn eating goaltender is required…..or Carter Hart. Insurance exists for a reason.

        • Em Durp Em Hrudey

          Wow, give it up already. You are both WW and the imposter and now most know it. I am here to talk hockey, not play your stupid mind games. Just get help already. You obviously lack attention or have some mental issues you need to sort out. Good luck.

        • Em Durp Em Hrudey

          And honestly I did have no idea what a “fee fee” was either. After the Google search I now do. I am sure you have alot of custom made fee fees around your lonely house…you are disgusting btw. Sick sick man. Just get help.

          • I dunno’… the old WW (bigger head in avatar) was crotchety, cruel and condescending at times, but in the end worth reading and responding to. Vaginasal and hrudey complex seem to be about twelve and make my eyes bleed when I have to scroll through their drivel. They are “johnny-come-lateley’s” to the blog and I wish they’d clean it up or get the feck out!

          • Em Durp Em Hrudey

            Actually I have been on here a while, but Stajan is no longer on the team so I changed my name and Avatar. Not looking to bicker just wanted to clear that up. Not a newbie. Glad you support a guy who makes fake accounts to troll though. Keep up the good fight and try cold cucumbers on your eyes to help with the swelling.

  • TheWheeze

    I’m not a believer in blocking shots. How many guys go down with injuries from not letting the goal tender do his job. Shot blocking is for teams with crappy defense.