The season’s most clutch goalies

April 9, 2014 in Unfiltered by Matt Pfeffer

Leverage is the measure of percentage in win probability a team could gain from a goal scored at any particular time in a game. You probably have an idea of the concept even if you haven’t actually seen the math for it, and you might also know some athletes with reputations for raising their game in the most important moments.

I looked at the most clutch goalscorers this season a couple weeks ago, now lets look at this year’s clutch-iest goaltenders.

Clutch is calculated as the difference in save% between his performance in high leverage situations (defined as moments when opposition leverage is above 25% WP) and his save% in the rest of his ice time. Due to score effects, the save% in low leverage shots are artificially high. To adjust for this, we’ll use his save% relative to league average in each situation for the calculation.

The leaders in 5v5 score close Clutch:

clutchgoalies

James Reimer has been incredible in the clutch this season, and kind of really bad every time else. There’s been a lot of statistical analysis about the merits between him and his partner Jonathan Bernier. But consider that James Reimer, with his ability to perform better in more important situations, has outperformed his save percentage in terms of win contribution.

The Top 10 Least Clutch:

clutchgoalies2

Seeing Marc Andre Fleury so high on this leaderboard of least clutch forced me to investigate further, as he’s a guy who has a little bit of a reputation for a propensity to fall apart in big moments. Turns out there’s nothing really to it, and that in his NHL career Fleury has been just marginally above average.

Chris Osgood leads all goalies with 1500+ shots faced since the 2007-2008 season. Chris Osgood had an excellent reputation for performing in the clutch situations, and it seems to be a major part of his hall of fame case. I think that was mostly based on his playoff performances, as opposed to the most important parts of the individual games, but, you know, it could be something.

James Reimer, Martin Brodeur, Chris Mason and Ilya Bryzgalov round out that list of most clutch since 2007. Devan Dubynk is the least clutch in that group, with Tomas Vokoun and Jaroslav Halak next to him. I see some correlation between what the analytics community considers to be underrated goalies and a lack of clutch, leading me to think teams might be valuing this particular skill. Do goaltenders hypothetically outperform their save% by performing in the clutch? Yes. Are these the kinds of aspects of performance you want to be hedging your bets on? Probably not.

Matt Pfeffer

Matt Pfeffer is a contributor to The Hockey News and Hockey Prospectus, where he also manages the statistics on the site. He is the statistical analyst of the Ottawa 67's of the Ontario Hockey League, and has consulted for several pro hockey teams.