Pavelec Performance Tracker: Midway Update

Travis Hrubeniuk
January 06 2014 11:44AM

I feel like the time for me to provide an update on these numbers always comes perfectly. Once again it’s update time and Jets fans everywhere are fully entrenched in one of the biggest Pavelec debates to date.

For those of you who aren’t aware, Pro-Pavelec folk like to claim that the controversial goaltender is actually much better than every stat says. They stand strong with the fact that it’s the team that lets him down, leaves him out to dry, and therefore drags his numbers down. Anti-Pavelec folk are skeptical that every team he has ever played for has been so poor defensively that his numbers have been permanently below average. They point to save percentage and situational stats to suggest he might be worse than average back-ups at the NHL level.

In an attempt to provide more insight, I have tracked and evaluated every goal scored on the Winnipeg Jets this year and have made judgment calls in regards to the situation, why the puck went in, and where the puck went. It's still subjective to some extent, but gives us a collective and quantified memory for what's happened as the season blurs together over time. Here for you today is what I have found up to the 43-game mark (I haven’t had a chance to watch the games against Boston and Pittsburgh yet).

The Basics

Goalie

Shots Faced

Goals Against

Saves

Save Percent

Pavelec

950

95

855

0.900

Montoya

364

26

338

0.929

First things first. My numbers somehow do not exactly match those provided by NHL.com. Similar to my 25 game update, they still have two less goals tallied against Ondrej than I do. I went back and checked then, and I went back and checked again now. I don’t know where those two goals came from. I have provided video footage following almost every game (I wasn’t able to post for 2 or 3, but I watch the goals a good 5-10 times before I make decisions on most of them), so I firmly believe that my numbers are the correct ones.

You’ll notice I don’t include either goaltenders GAA or their record. The reasoning for this is simple. First, GAA is too flimsy and variable to use as an evaluation tool and Sv% has been shown before to be a much better indicator of goaltending performance (I can’t find the article explaining it, so if anyone has it feel free to post below). Next, I think it’s pretty ridiculous to use goalie wins as an evaluation tool. That definitely is a team effect, at least to some degree. If you really want that information, check out the NHL.com's numbers.

Any who. The numbers. I think it’s pretty easy to see with these basic stats why people want to see Montoya in the net more. His sample size is much smaller, but the difference is staggering. Pavelec is sitting among the league basement when it comes to save percentage, while Al Montoya is hanging around with the league leaders. It’s unrealistic to expect Montoya to keep those kinds of numbers up, but future regression to the mean isn't an indictment of current success.

Context

Pavelec

Situation

Goals Against

Percentage

Jets PK

22

23.2%

Jets PP

2

2.1%

Odd Man Rush

11

11.6%

Sustained Pressure

19

20.0%

Average Play

23

24.2%

Skilled Play

2

2.1%

Turnover

14

14.7%

**For clarification purposes, an “average play” includes any basic breakout, faceoff loss, controlled zone entry, dump-in, etc. and a “skilled” play is any play that was created due to a highly skilled move that created an opening

Looking at this, you can see a SMALL case for what the pro-Pavelec folk are talking about. Turnovers and odd man breaks alone have been the cause of 26.3% of the goals against the Jets. You could also make the argument that sustained pressure is something that the play in front of the net could limit. Your goalie is supposed to play a role in helping relieve that pressure by holding onto the puck when he gets a chance and getting a whistle.

A huge factor in blaming Pavelec versus his team defence is that the majority of the goals scored against him have come as a result of a pretty average play. You’ll see in the next segment why this is so important.

Montoya

Situation

Goals Against

Percentage

Jets PK

3

11.5%

Jets PP

2

7.7%

Odd Man Rush

3

11.5%

Sustained Pressure

6

23.1%

Average Play

7

26.9%

Skilled Play

1

3.8%

Turnover

4

15.4%

**For clarification purposes, an “average play” includes any basic breakout, faceoff loss, controlled zone entry, dump-in, etc. and a “skilled” play is any play that was created due to a highly skilled move that created an opening

As I mentioned above, a huge reason that people feel Pavelec’s numbers are so low is because of the play in front of him. That Pav gets “hung out to dry” more than Montoya does. Now I know it’s not going to correlate perfectly, but turnovers and odd man rush situations led to 26.9% of goals against Montoya, roughly the same as against Pav. And don’t those percentages look pretty darn similar as a whole?

The difference isn't in the breakdown of how goals are scored, but in the total number of them that get through. Seeing this and seeing how drastically different Pavelec and Montoya’s basic numbers are, I have a hard time believing that the blame falls on the context the 'tenders face. Is Montoya simply a better goalie? It's not conclusive yet, but something is different between the two along the way.

Reasons

Pavelec

Reason It Went In

Goals Against

Percentage

Bad Break

17

17.9%

Out of Position

15

15.8%

No Chance

3

3.2%

Rebound

14

14.7%

Beat Clean (Pavelec)

17

17.9%

Beat Clean

27

28.4%

**“Bad breaks” include deflections, high volumes of traffic in front, etc., “Beat Clean” vs. “Beat Clean (Pavelec)” signifies if the goal was deemed by me to be realistically stoppable or not by the goaltender

This is where Pavelec starts looking pretty darn shaky. I interpret goals scored due to Pavelec being out of position, ruled as ‘Beat Clean (Pavelec)’ and as the result of a rebound as preventable by the goaltender specifically and thus mostly Pav's fault. Those types of goals account for 48.4% of the ones that Pavelec let in. Admittedly I don’t have any kind of comparison point for other goaltenders in the league, but that seems pretty darn high to me.

Every player makes mistakes at every position, and we can't expect a 0 number. Even if you cut just the out of position and rebound goals in half, you’re looking at approximately 14 less goals against to this point in the season. When you look at how many one-goal games the Jets have lost, that could potentially make a big difference in the standings.

Montoya

Reason It Went In

Goals Against

Percentage

Bad Break

7

26.9%

Out of Position

2

7.7%

No Chance

4

15.4%

Rebound

2

7.7%

Beat Clean (Montoya)

4

15.4%

Beat Clean

7

26.9%

**“Bad breaks” include deflections, high volumes of traffic in front, etc., “Beat Clean” vs. “Beat Clean (Montoya)” signifies if the goal was deemed by me to be realistically stoppable or not by the goaltender

This is where things really get interesting. As I said above, I don’t have this information for other goaltenders so I’m not sure what is average. We saw above that the situations/context of goals against are quite similar between the two guys. So why are Montoya’s numbers so much better? Well, I think we have our answer.

Those same metrics that have killed Pavelec (beat clean – Montoya, rebounds, and out of position), contribute only 30.8% of the goals against Montoya. That’s almost an 18% difference, and that’s huge. Montoya limits the unnecessary movement in his net, he controls the puck a lot better off of his pads, and I feel that he has much better awareness of what is happening around him. That's reflected in the goals.

Al Montoya is far from perfect. He still makes his mistakes, but he is much better than Pavelec in terms of limiting the “bad goals” against. As a result, it takes more traffic in front and deflections (as seen by the jump in “bad break” goals) to get pucks by him.

Location

Pavelec

Where It Went

Goals Against

Percentage

Five Hole

5

5.3%

Glove Hand

20

21.1%

Blocker

33

34.7%

Pads

21

22.1%

Open Net

14

14.7%

Ondrej Pavelec’s blocker continues to be his nemesis. Outside of that, everything seems to be evened out. A little concerning to me is the 14.7% that go into an open net, as those are often a result of him being out of position.

Montoya

Where It Went

Goals Against

Percentage

Five Hole

2

7.7%

Glove Hand

10

38.5%

Blocker

5

19.2%

Pads

5

19.2%

Open Net

4

15.4%

Pretty similar here to Pavelec in a lot of ways. Montoya’s glove hand is terrifying, but a lot of the other numbers are pretty evenly distributed. The open net percentage is also high, but we’ll see how that changes as the sample size gets bigger.

Conclusion

There’s a lot going on with these numbers. Overall, I think there is some decent case building here that it is not the play in front of Ondrej Pavelec that is harming his numbers. Al Montoya gets very similar play in front of him as the goals against come in quite similar situations, but due to his ability to stay in position and control rebounds, he has allowed a smaller percentage of goals.

Another thing I want to point out are the goals caused directly by Jet turnovers. They are by far the easiest situations for me to decide on, so I am quite confident in my count there. Only 18 of the 121 goals scored on Jet goaltenders to this point in the season are due to turnovers. That’s 14.8%. Is that a high number? I’m not sure. They happen to everybody, but the Jets rather subpar forechecking abilities limit our chances of seeing them as a benefit. What I am trying to say here is they really aren’t that common. They are bad when they happen, but they aren’t that common.

I’m not convinced that Al Montoya is by any means a far superior goaltender to Ondrej Pavelec. In some aspects such as puck movement, awareness and positioning, I do think he is better. Given his up and down numbers in the NHL, I am not convinced that he is at all the Jets long-term answer. His numbers are likely going to drop slightly the more he plays. For now, the point is that he's performing better by a wide margin, and to say he has performed better because the Jets are better in front of him is inaccurate.

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I write things, you read them. Then tend to yell at me for them. It's okay though, I'm from Winnipeg. I can take it. If you actually do like what I write, give me a twitter follow here (@thrubeniuk): https://twitter.com/thrubeniuk
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#1 Dan
January 06 2014, 05:41PM
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Great, great article, Travis. Terrific and much appreciated work you've been doing all season on this, and I agree that at this point, it really helps tell the goaltending story. When you reported Montoya's frightening glove hand numbers, I couldn't help thinking about something a tv talking head said early in last year's playoffs about Mark Crawford when he was showing a similar hole, something to the effect of, "He should maybe get someone to throw around a ball with him between games." Looking forward to someone (PJ Stock?) asking out loud why our Cuban goalie doesn't play better catch.

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#2 ScottOCanada
January 07 2014, 06:45AM
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I'm with Dan on this one, great work as it exposes some obvious truths that adds validity to the debate. No indictments, nor defence. Just numbers, and numbers don't lie (my accountant not withstanding).

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#4 Mark
January 09 2014, 03:57PM
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Thats some cool analysis. It makes perfect sense that Pavelec would have a high "out of position" % considering how often he dives and flails around. Nice job.

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