How should we be judging goaltenders?

By ESH · Dec 31, 2017 · Updated Jan 2, 2018
  1. ESH
    Basically, whenever I see any argument about goaltenders on here it always comes down to save percentage. Whenever I see someone talking about a goalie, save percentage is the most important stat. I rarely, if ever, see an argument about a goaltender that uses a stat other than save percentage. There has to be more to goaltending than that though, right?

    I've seen the argument that wins is the most important statistic for goaltenders, and I'm almost inclined to agree. There's nothing more important in hockey than winning! At the same time though, it could easily be argued that having a better save% and GAA would lead to more wins.

    This partially stems from a recent thread I saw in the Polls section about whether or not Robin Lehner was a #1 goaltender. The only argument I saw for Lehner from anyone in the entire thread was that his Sv% was good. I saw a couple Buffalo posters talk about how his Sv% numbers might be a bit misleading. Sure he absorbs a lot of shots, but does he make the key saves when he needs to? I'm really not trying to make this into a thread about Robin Lehner or any specific goaltender, this is purely an example.

    I've seen posts on this site before talking about the relationship between a higher # of shots and a higher Sv%. I also feel as though lots of people would expect goalies on worse teams that allow more shots to have a lower Sv%. I think what it comes down to more than anything is the quality of shots that a goalie faces.

    I think that Jonathan Quick is a good example for the point I'm trying to convey here. Often times his Sv% isn't at the top of the league, but his GAA is. I feel like he gets a bit overlooked on here because so many people focus purely on Sv%. I think his Sv% is lower because he faces less shots than a lot of goalies on worse teams, but he also lets in a lot less goals than most goalies. Is it his fault that his team has been generally very good at limiting shots against him? Again, I'm not trying to make this about any specific players.

    My main question is, how should we be judging goalies? I personally believe that there's no better way to judge a player than to watch them play, but I'm a lot worse at judging a goalies abilities than a skaters. Surely there's more we can look at than just a goalie's Sv% though am I right?

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