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Is Jacob Markstrom a legitimate Vezina Trophy contender?

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Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
5 months ago
Folks, if you’ve followed the Calgary Flames this season, there have potentially been three revelations about individual Flames players. They likely include some combination of surprise and excitement about the emergence of Connor Zary, the consistency of Blake Coleman, and the resurgence of Jacob Markstrom.
Markstrom’s superb play in net has led some to label him as a Vezina Trophy contender. But how much of a contender is he?
So there are two lenses to analyze Markstrom’s performance: traditional stats and fancy stats.
In terms of traditional stats, Markstrom has performed fairly well. He has a 13-11-2 record with a .912 save percentage, 2.59 goals against average and one shutout.
  • 11 goaltenders have more wins.
  • 20 goaltenders have more shutouts.
  • Of goalies with 15 or more appearances, 13 goalies have better save percentages.
  • Of goalies with 15 or more appearances, 13 goalies have better goals against averages.
In terms of traditional stats, you can credibly put Markstrom in the top 15(-ish) starting goaltenders in the league, and his performance more recently is arguably even more impressive. Since Dec. 1, he’s 7-4-0 with a .931 save percentage, 2.12 goals against average and one shutout in 11 appearances. Of goalies who’ve played 10 or more times since December began, he’s second in save percentage and fifth in goals against average.
So for the traditional stats crowd – and remember, general managers vote for the Vezina, so they may skew towards traditional stats – Markstrom is probably slightly outside the Vezina conversation for his overall season performance, but since December began he’s barrelling his way into it with some really strong work.
The more “fancy” stats are where Markstrom shines.
JFreshHockey posts a stat known as Goals Saved Above Expected on social media, among others. Effectively, that stat is intended to correct for quality of a team’s defending: some teams are a bit more porous defensively and allow a lot of quality chances, so Goals Saved Above Expected uses a formula to calculated expected goals against a goaltender and compare that to what they actually allowed.
Markstrom leads the league in this metric.
Similarly, Markstrom performs really well in High-Danger Save Percentage, focusing on chances that are judged to be highly likely to result in goals based on situation, location and shot type. Over at Natural Stat Trick, among goaltenders who’ve played 15 or more games, Markstrom ranks second in that category.
Is Markstrom back to his previous Vezina candidate form? Over the last six weeks, definitely yes. Has his season performance as a whole put him in the Vezina conversation? Not quite, especially in terms of traditional goaltending metrics, but he’s rapidly working his way up the leaderboards and forcing himself into the discussion.

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