2022-23 NHL Save Goals Over Predicted Comparisons Across The League: Week 6

In Week 6 of TWC’s GSAx charts, one goalkeeper completely stumbled out of the blocks to do really poorly. I literally forced the interviewer to change plots just to realize how bad it was. Who was he? And what other storylines have arisen from the wrinkle this week? Let’s find out.

Goals saved above expected as of November 22, 2022

If you’ve seen these plots before, feel free to scroll down and start checking out the visuals. Other than that, here’s a quick explanation on how to read GSAx charts.

One way to objectively compare goalkeepers is to rate their Goals Above Expected (GSAx). For each shot, there is a specific expected goal (xG) value, and since the goalkeeper makes or doesn’t make saves based on the expected values, the difference between xG and his actual goals against will begin to vary compared to other goalkeepers.

Since the randomness of goaltending seems to happen not just season over season but sometimes even week after week, we can plot each goalkeeper’s GSAx chart to see how they stack up compared to the rest of the league. Using data visualization, a comparison of goalkeepers can be done quickly with plenty of context in each chart.

For the first week, GSAx charts were presented from October 7th through October 18th – data combined into a longer week. From now on, each set of charts will be weekly from Wednesday’s matches through the following Tuesday’s matches. This is in order to have an extra list of games that are usually played on Tuesdays, for no other reason than to make the most data available in a timely manner, but on a weekly basis.

In addition to the weekly GSAx plots, season-to-date charts will also be looked at to see how the goalkeepers stack up against each other over the course of the season. This will help highlight goalkeepers among the best who should be the first in the Vezina Cup. All data from NaturalStatTrick.com.

Weekly goals saved above expected plots

Plots are subdivided into each section, and teams are then ranked in order from highest to lowest team GSAx total. Each goalkeeper will then sit along the x-axis based on their GSAx totals. Each goalkeeper’s color is determined based on their total shots against the entire league (as opposed to each division)—the more shots a goalkeeper faces, the brighter and yellower his point will be; The fewer shots, the darker and bluer it will be.

Similar to shots against league-wide colors, each piece is also x-axis scaled league-wide, based on the two individual goalkeepers with the highest and lowest GSAx. This makes visual comparisons between the four plots a little easier.

Pacific Division Goalkeepers

Finally, for the first time this season, Thatcher Demko finds himself with a positive GSAx. Not only did he have a positive week, but he led the Pacific Division.

Now looking at the graph, it looks like Pacific was tightly tied – which is true – but it also indicates that nowhere else in the NHL has at least one goaltender had a GSAx less than -5.0. We’ll see where this goalkeeper becomes soon.

For the Pacific, which has been the trend all season, most goalies in this division are below par. And even good performances, like Demko and Martin Jones, are too pedestrian in other departments. A little silver lining is that Cal Petersen’s worst week wasn’t that bad all things considered. As mentioned, it was a tight week.

Poor week after poor week, Pacifica’s goalkeepers are crying and crying.

Goalkeepers from the central section

Right in the middle, there is a more pronounced spread of good weeks versus bad weeks between the goalkeepers. Many goalkeepers have had good weeks, led by Pavel Francoz. His counterpart, Aleksandr Georgiev – who played in one game – set a GSAx of 2.13, the highest of all Pacific Division goaltender.

That’s a lot of battering for one section, but the Pacific clearly isn’t having a great season in the curls overall.

Now back to Central, some interesting names include Connor Ingram, who finally played a good game and ended up with a positive GSAx. It’s rare for Connor Hellebuyck not to be at the top of the division – especially when GSAx posts a positive – but four other goalkeepers have scored better.

Arvid Soderblom was on his own as the worst goalkeeper in the middle this week, but the second worst was his partner in Petr Mrazek. Not a great week for Chicago.

Metropolitan Division goalkeepers

The Vezina Trophy winner found himself leading the Metropolitan as Igor Shesterkin was the strongest individual performer of the week with a heavy workload to boot.

However, the New Jersey tandem of Vitek Vanecek and Akira Schmid had the highest GSAx cumulative as they extended their winning streak to 13 games over the course of the week.

Carter Hart had a bad week, ending up with a negative GSAx. He was one of the busiest goalies in the league and arguably the only reason the Flyers never fully exploded. A bad week for him right now is an anomaly so we’ll be watching if it’s a weird trend or a bad one.

Jonas Korbesalo was Metro’s worst goalkeeper this week. Normally for Columbus, Elvis Merzlekens would be struggling, but with his injury, Corbesalo took his place (much to the Blue Jackets’ dismay).

Goalkeepers from the Atlantic Division

Ah, there he is. The goalkeeper who broke the chart axes this week was Sergei Bobrovsky. On 34 shots, he gave up nine goals. Every other goaltender in the league who’s strapped between -5.0 to 5.0 GSAx makes Bobrovsky’s fumble look worse. It was a week to forget.

Elsewhere in the division, Anton Forsberg had a solid week on the grid. A large number of goaltenders ended up very close to the GSAx zero, with Jeremy Swaiman, Andrei Vasilevski, Phil Hosseu, and Eric Comrie all crossing the GSAx zero line.

It’s interesting to see that this happened despite all the goalkeepers facing very different shot combinations. Vasilevskiy saw the most shots in the league with 101, while Swiman faced only 18.

Season-to-date goals saved above expected intrigue

Now moving to the plots of the season so far, let’s check out how the season stacks up. The color palette for the season-to-date charts was also changed to differentiate them from the weekly ones.

Plots are re-scaled to account for different maximum and minimum GSAx values, but as above, all four sections are scaled together to facilitate season-to-date comparisons. The season scale goes from -15 to 15 GSAx, same as last week. For goalkeepers to move higher or lower, it will start to become more difficult as it requires the elite to keep watch over the goal for weeks on end to move up, or a complete disaster to fall apart.

Pacific Division Goalkeepers

The Pacific Division has an interesting story here. Logan Thompson and Stuart Skinner both fell close to their peers. What was once a two-horse race now saw Jones take over for Thompson.

Despite having the lowest GSAx as a team in the division, the Los Angeles Kings are still holding on for second place, even though other teams have games in hand.

What’s interesting about Pacific Ocean in general is how the plot is shaped. Whether at the top or bottom, the best goalkeeper is not on the best team, and the worst goalkeeper is similarly not on the worst team. We can see that Jones, Skinner and Marsa are by Philip Grubauer and Jack Campbell. We can also see that Demko is supported by Spencer Martin.

Goalkeepers from the central section

Hellebuyck is in his own league as Central’s best goalkeeper with no one else even close. Over the first six weeks of the season, it was his consistency that kept him far ahead of his peers.

The Colorado Avalanche has good performances from both their goaltenders, and part of this is due to their defense team. But goalkeepers hold off their end of the bargain, too.

It is also interesting to compare the Central Pacific Ocean. Even with Mrazek being the worst central goalkeeper with a GSAx with -4.44, six other Pacfic goalkeepers have an even worse GSAx. In general, Central works well for the majority of sentinels with positive GSAx values, and people with a negative GSAx are not that negative, all things considered.

Metropolitan Division goalkeepers

Ilya Sorokin and Hart both had negative GSAx weeks, but are still neck and neck as DC’s favorites. While still behind Hellebuyck, this trio had an amazing first quarter of the season.

The gap between Sorokin and Hart versus the rest of the Metro is pretty big. Shesterkin is third while having only a 5.09 GSAx – both Sorokin and Hart more than double that.

Outliers aside (on both ends with Merzlikins being the league’s anchor for the worst GSAx), Metro has a healthy mix of good and bad guards in regards to GSAx. Ironically, if you don’t look at the outliers, no one really stands out, for better or for worse.

Metro is definitely a section of the extremes with uneven performance across the board.

Goalkeepers from the Atlantic Division

The Atlantic also had a large top-down GSAx prevalence. At the top, Linus Ullmark is withdrawing and may vie to position himself in the Vezina talks. He didn’t break the 10.0 GSAx threshold like the other three goaltenders mentioned above, but he does stand in the division when no other goalie does.

GSAx is fickle in the sense that one good or bad stretch of gaming can really change a goalkeeper’s standings. This was seen heavily in Bobrovsky, whose bad week not only hurt him but also dragged the Panthers down the ratings. For reference, they were third last week — and now they’re in sixth. There’s a pretty big swing in that chart for the entire season so far.

Target abundance

It’s always interesting to see how your goal pursuit progresses week by week. From outstanding performances to award-winning saves, there is no shortage of action in the NHL goalkeeping world.

Stay tuned over the coming weeks to find out who’s next to put their pads at the top of GSAx’s list.

Check out previous GSAx charts here.

first week | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

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