No teams relied on their starting goalie more last year than Winnipeg, Columbus and Toronto. Connor Hellebuyck, Sergei Bobrovsky and Frederik Andersen played more minutes than any other goalies in the league. With the start of the NHL season just a few days away, our goaltending analyst, Charlie McTavish broke down video on these three goalies and here’s what stood out to him.
What the Stats Say: Hellebuyck finished top 10 in wins, save % and GAA and was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy. In looking at where he allowed his goals last season, he was particularity strong stopping pucks on the low, glove side of the net.
What Charlie Says: Above average on low shots because he plays a bit deeper and doesn’t move much. This results in minimum transition time from a push or the “initiation of movement”, to being set prior to the shot. You’re most vulnerable in the transition phase – hence why the leading grade-A scoring chance at 22% is when a pass is made across the center line – the goalie is then in transition and not set prior to the shot. Due to the fact that Hellebuyck plays a bit deeper, he doesn’t need to move as much or as far. This allows him to be set prior to the shot and execute optimally. Being 6’4″ allows him to easily cover the bottom part of the net when in his butterfly even at a shallower depth. HOWEVER, this is the same reason he is below average on higher shots…he simply plays deep and has to react to more shots with his hands.
What the Stats Say: Bobrovsky posted a save % north of .920 for the second straight season and finished top 10 in wins. There wasn’t an area of the net where Bobrovsky’s numbers deviated too much from league average. He was slightly below average in terms of the percentage of goals he allowed high glove but was above average stopping pucks low on the same side.
What Charlie Says: One of my favorite goalies. Has the tendency to get very wide and low, possibly making it slightly more difficult to react to well placed high shots. In general plays a fantastic goalie “system”. Almost every recovery is to his post and nobody sticks a reverse V-H, post position at full speed like Bob. Maybe Andrei Vasilevskiy but that’s about it. Best guess as to why low blocker is below average is that he can tend to play a paddle down position in tight and scramble situations, making it difficult to react to that side with his leg and possibly blocker hand.
What the Stats Say: Andersen faced more shots and made more saves than any goalie in the league last season. To post a .918 save % with that kind of volume is impressive. Like Bobrovsky, Andersen was neither outstanding nor deficient in a meaningful way in any of the 5 areas shown below. His biggest departure from league average came 5-hole, where he ranked 39th out of 51 goalies in the percentage of his goals he allowed there.
What Charlie Says: Andersen successfully walks a line of technical and athletic. He has a solid technical foundation but has the ability to be purely reactive when necessary. It would make sense that he doesn’t stray too far from league average in most categories. He’s consistent but can make a desperation save when needed. He almost never gives up a bad angle goal and is so good on his posts that the slightly higher than average 5-hole percentage may just be because when you can’t beat him on bad angles, more pucks are bound to go through the middle once he’s moving laterally. Set, I don’t see a weakness 5-hole but his commitment to guarding the posts may result in him getting square a little late when moving.