1978-79 NHL save percentages

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by reckoning, Jul 31, 2005.

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  1. reckoning

    reckoning Registered User

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    This may not interest some, but I know a few people on here like to do work with hockey stats such as comparing players from different eras. When it comes to goalies though, it`s tough because one of the key stats is save percentage and the data is missing for several years. The NHL didn`t start keeping track of it until 1982-83. The 2001 Hockey Compendium listed totals for the last 13 seasons of the Original Six era (`55-`67) ,`70-`71, `74-`75, and `75-`76, as well as all the playoff numbers from `52 to present day. There are unofficial numbers printed for `79-`80 (1980 THN Yearbook), `80-`81 (1981 THN Yearbook) and `81-`82 (the original Hockey Compendium). That still leaves nine missing seasons. I decided to tackle one of those the long way.

    That meant going through each game summary for the `78-`79 season from past issues of the Toronto Star, copying how many shots each goalie faced and adding everything up. The good part about it was that I found a ton of interesting articles about the top hockey stories of that season (i.e. Challenge Cup, NHL-WHA merger, the Ballard/Neilson fired-rehired fiasco, etc.). The bad part is going through nearly 700 game summaries can be extremely tedious.

    These numbers can`t be considered official because there were some problems: I couldn`t find 7 of the games, plus about 15-20 other games appeared to be typos (the totals for the three periods didn`t equal the final total printed); so for those cases I took the number of shots each team took that season (the league kept track of that), subtracted the totals from all their other games and then used what was left to determine the shots for the missing games. The other problem was if a goalie was pulled midway through a period; I could easily figure how many minutes each goalie played, and used that to split the shots in that period between them, but that may not be exact. Those problems aside however, I`m confident that these numbers are exremely close to what they actually were.

    1978-79 Save Percentages (minimum 1600 minutes):

    1. G. Resch (NYI) .914
    2. K. Dryden (Mtl) .909
    3. M. Palmateer (Tor) .909
    4. T. Esposito (Chi) .901
    5. B. Smith (NYI) .900
    6. D. Edwards (Buf) .898
    7. G. Hanlon (Van) .897
    8. B. Parent (Phi) .893
    9. D. Herron (Pit) .892
    10. M. Lessard (LA) .891
    11. M. Larocque (Mtl) .888
    12. D. Bouchard (Atl) .888
    13. G. Meloche (Min) .884
    14. J. Rutherford (Det) .884
    15. G. Inness (Wsh) .880
    16. B. Oleschuk (Col) .877
    17. B. Sauve (Buf) .876
    18. E. Staniowski (Stl) .876
    19. G. Bromley (Van) .875
    20. J. Davidson (NYR) .874
    21. M. Plasse (Col) .870
    22. W. Stephenson (Phi) .870
    23. W. Thomas (NYR) .867
    24. G. Cheevers (Bos) .865
    25. P. Myre (Stl) .865
    26. J. Bedard (Wsh) .863
    27. R. Vachon (Det) .863
    28. R. Grahame (LA) .863

    NHL Average: .883

    This was the end of an era as both Ken Dryden and Bernie Parent would never play again after this season, and apparently their respective teams weren`t confident in handing the reins over to the current backups, as that summer Philly traded Wayne Stephenson while Montreal picked up Denis Herron from Pittsburgh. This was also the year that Detroit signed Rogie Vachon as a free agent to a very lucrative contract (rare in the 70s). To say it backfired would be a bit of an understatement.
     
  2. Hedberg

    Hedberg MLD Glue Guy

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    Wow. That was alot of research.
     
  3. Hockey Outsider

    Hockey Outsider Registered User

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    Excellent job, Reckoning. I can imagine how much work that was. Thanks for sharing the information with all of us.

    - Interesting that Dryden and Resch were the two all-star goalies that year, and they were first and second in sv%. Looks like the voters made 2 good choices. And Palmateer in 3rd got some Hart consideration.

    - Look at the huge gap between Dryden and Larocque. Year after year, Dryden has a higher sv% than Larocque by 10-15%. The argument that any goalie could have performed as well as Dryden seems to be false (and is further supported by the fact that the Habs stopped winning the Stanley Cup right after he retired).

    - Cheevers is near the bottom. He still had the greatest goalie mask ever.
     
  4. reckoning

    reckoning Registered User

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    Remember that in the Compendium, Palmateer also had some outstanding playoff marks in `77 and `78. There`s always been several reasons given for the Leafs collapse in the early-80s, but I`m starting to wonder if the downward spiral had already started in the late-70s, but wasn`t noticed because Palmateer was making Toronto look better than they actually were

    Dryden has not gotten the respect he deserves; a goalie will certainly benefit from a strong defence in front of him, but that variable has been used far too much against Dryden. As for Larocque, some fans were fooled by the fact that his winning percentage was usually equal or better than Drydens, not noticing that Larocque usually played the weaker teams. For example, in this season Dryden played all the games against the Islanders, all the games against Boston, and all but one of the games against Philadelphia.

    Cheevers was getting a little long in the tooth at this point, but the other Bruin goalies didn`t do much better ( Gilbert- .869, Pettie- .856). In fact, throughout most of the 80s and 90s Boston goalies usually fared poorly in save percentage. There have been some claims from other coaches that the hometown Bruin scorekeepers were very stingy in crediting shots to the visiting team (Rick Dudley was very vocal about it when he coached Buffalo). Theoretically (sp), if a scorekeeper is giving the opposition less shots than they actually had, it makes the home team look better, but makes the home goalie look worse save percentage-wise. So I did a comparison for that season of Boston`s home and away games:

    Boston shots against average per game:

    Home - 21.5
    Away - 28.0

    A significant difference, but I`m not sure it`s big enough to prove anything.
     
  5. Lard_Lad

    Lard_Lad Registered User

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    Could you do home/away splits for the rest of the league and see if that 6.5-shot decrease at home was typical? If not, I'd say it's a pretty good indicator shots weren't being counted properly.
     
  6. Matt Gunning

    Matt Gunning Registered User

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    Wow. A tremendous amount of work.

    Are you aware of the hockey summary project over on Yahoo groups? You might check it out. They are trying to build historical datasets from old game summaries.
     
  7. Wisent

    Wisent Registered User

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    That was work, man!
     
  8. Psycho Papa Joe

    Psycho Papa Joe Porkchop Hoser

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    Always thought the Habs should have gone after Chico Resch when Smith took over on the Island. He would have been the type of big time goalie the Habs were missing until Roy arrived on the scene. Methinks they wouldn't have had such a poor playoff record in the early 80's with Resch in net, and the above stats reinforce that opinion.
     
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