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April 20, 2011
Howe and Why
Goalie Quality Starts, 2010-11

by Robert Vollman

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Three years ago, we borrowed the Quality Start concept from baseball in an attempt to replace Wins as a way of measuring goaltenders. After all, Wins are a goofy way to rate goalies, as it puts very average goalies like Chris Osgood up for Hall of Fame consideration just because they played for powerhouse teams. To us, it's more impressive if a goalie consistently plays well enough for their teams to win, regardless of whether or not they get enough scoring in support.

Simply put, a goalie is awarded a Quality Start when either he stops an above-average number of shots (91.3%, typically), or faces so few shots that no more than 2 get by. In general, a team will lose only 25% of games where the goalie can manage that, and win only 25% of the games where they don't. For more detail about the methodology, check out our previous articles about Quality Starts for the methodology in more detail, either the original back in 2008-09 , last year's 2009-10 piece or the midseason write-up in 2010-11 not long ago.

Without any further ado, here is the complete leader board for the 2010-11 season!

Goaltender         GS QS  QS%
Tim Thomas         55 40 72.7%
Roberto Luongo     60 41 68.3%
Pekka Rinne        64 43 67.2%
Sergei Bobrovsky   52 34 65.4%
Antti Niemi        60 39 65.0%
Jonathan Quick     60 39 65.0%
Jonas Hiller       46 29 63.0%
Marc-Andre Fleury  62 39 62.9%
Corey Crawford     55 34 61.8%
Ilya Bryzgalov     67 41 61.2%
Carey Price        70 42 60.0%
Ryan Miller        65 39 60.0%
Cam Ward           74 44 59.5%
Craig Anderson     49 29 59.2%
Niklas Backstrom   50 29 58.0%
Miikka Kiprusoff   71 41 57.7%
Dwayne Roloson     54 31 57.4%
Kari Lehtonen      68 39 57.4%
Jaroslav Halak     57 32 56.1%
Martin Brodeur     54 30 55.6%
Michael Neuvirth   45 25 55.6%
Henrik Lundqvist   67 37 55.2%
Tomas Vokoun       57 31 54.4%
Steve Mason        53 27 50.9%
Jimmy Howard       63 31 49.2%
Ondrej Pavelec     54 26 48.1%
Brian Elliott      51 17 33.3%
Nikolai Khabibulin 46 15 32.6%
Minimum 41 Starts

Tim Thomas, who led all goalies in 2008-09, at just under 70%, makes his triumphant return back to the top of the pack. Predator Pekka Rinne was one shy of leading the league in total Quality Starts, earning a spot right behind only today's two established elite netminders Thomas and Roberto Luongo at 67.2%. Carolina's Cam Ward was the over-all leader in Quality Starts with 44, but had 10 more opportunities than Rinne.

Unfortunately, the limited offense on some teams causes them to waste more than the standard 25% of Quality Starts, as was the case with Rinne, who had 14 wasted by the anemic Nashville offense. That's even one more than the king of wasted Quality Starts, Tomas Vokoun, who had 47.1% of his Quality Starts wasted in 2009-10, and 41.9% to lead the league yet again in 2010-11. An honorable mention goes to Martin Biron of the New York Islanders, who has had 10 of his 21 quality starts wasted over the past two seasons.

On the flip side, this year's luckiest goalie is Jimmy Howard. Not only did the Red Wings only lose 16.1% of his quality starts—the lowest of any starting goalie—but they also bailed him out a league-leading 11 times, in 34.4% of his non-Quality Starts. Last year's luckiest goalie was Nikolai Khabibulin, but boy did his luck run out! Not only did the Oilers waste six of 15 Quality Starts (40.0%), but they bailed him out of only one of his 31 non-Quality Starts. The unluckiest goalie is certainly Carey Price, who has been bailed out of only five of his 49 poor starts over the past two seasons.

This year's new statistic is the Really Bad Start, where a goalie fails to stop even 85% of the shots, leaving his team barely a 10% chance of winning. This year's leader is Brian Elliott, with 15 RBS out of 51 opportunities, taking his team right out of 29.4% of their games. Steve Mason (26.4%) and Miikka Kiprusoff (19.7%) had 14 RBS, with Khabibulin (26.1%), Dan Ellis (27.0%), Craig Anderson (20.4%) and Marc-Andre Fleury (16.1%) the only other goalies to blow at least 10. By percentage, the least reliable starters were Ty Conklin (7 RBS in 20 starts, the only goalie with more RBS than QS) and Curtis McElhinney (7 RBS in 22 starts).

Wrapping Up

Email me if you would like a copy of the raw data. We have been collecting this data for three years now, if you have any questions, please be generous with your comments as we intend to explore this topic in more detail in Hockey Prospectus 2011-12.

Robert Vollman is an author of Hockey Prospectus. You can contact Robert by clicking here or click here to see Robert's other articles.

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<< Previous Article
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