I see people overreacting to the Islander goal situation right now. Yes the goaltending #s are really bad, and the goaltending has been really bad. We even had our first “I’m not going to talk about the goaltending” comment from Cappy! Yet people, including Cappy, are massively missing the point.
We have 10 games of goaltending data so far, 6 for Halak, 4 for Johnson. And the numbers are bad, as I said. But 10 games of goalie performance is basically nothing. It’s a drop in the bucket. And goaltenders are EXTREMELY RANDOM. Here’s how random: Both Lundqvist and Tuukka Rask are sub .900 in SV% right now. Lundqvist actually did the same thing last year and of course he turned out just fine. Goaltenders go through hot and cold streaks like no other position in hockey.
But you may say: Well Halak (and Johnson) looks bad! Well he has! But here’s the thing. Every type of player has good days and bad days, and sometimes they’ll have a few of those in a row. But for other types of skaters, if they have bad days, it may not really cost your team at all, because a few bad plays by a forward or D-Man don’t necessarily result in you being scored upon. One turnover by a D Man in the D zone for example doesn’t necessarily lead to the puck in one’s own net. By contrast, goalie mistakes are magnified. One whiff on a long distance unscreened shot is a goal against.
So given how small our samples are for each goalie, our expectations for Johnson and Halak shouldn’t really be any different than they were coming into this season. Halak was expected to have about a .915 this year (just above average for a starter). How about Johnson? Well he had a .923 in the NHL coming into today, but that is only on 1054 shots. Which isn’t much of a sample. So if we include Johnson’s AHL #s, we get around a .913 or .914. But these are if you count AHL SVs as as difficult as NHL ones, which isn’t very likely (NHL Saves are harder). So he’s probably closer to a .910 goalie. Which is below average.
Now .910 or so isn’t bad for a backup – it’s not good, but it’s acceptable. But he’s clearly a worse goalie than Halak. So we should STOP overreacting to small samples and stop playing him over Halak.
Both goalies should regress positively. Halak will more so. Give him the chance, and you’ll be rewarded.