One goaltender I absolutely loathe to admit has a serious drop between the DIGR and NHL lists is Jonathan Quick. I am a diehard Kings fan, and I'll admit that I was lukewarm on Quick when he first started. However, I have grown to love this guy and wish this weren't so! Quick is an up-and-comer in the NHL who has taken the experts by surprise and is quickly becoming a favorite. In the NHL, he ranked 16th with a 0.9180 SVP with 35 wins in 65 games. On DIGR, he ranked 37th with a 0.9091 SVP. One thing that is specifically mentioned in Schuckers' analysis is that Quick faced easy shots. Considering that the Kings boast arguably the best Canadian defenseman in DD and the best American defenseman in JMFJ, it would be reasonable to assume that the D is shutting down the angles that would make it difficult for Quick to stop or something along those lines. One thing that is noted is that Quick does go on streaks. During last season, the Kings were almost bipolar in their wins and losses, and part of it was due to Quick's performance. It seemed as though there were some confidence issues or mental blockages that would surface from time to time. He would make some great acrobatic saves, which is in tune with his athletic style, but he would also allow some bad goals that provoked frustration for him. However, when he got hot, he stayed hot for a while. Quick ranked fifth in goals-against average with 2.24. He also led the league in shootouts winning all ten. Looking to this season, the addition of Richards from the Flyers was key to add firepower to Kopitar. If the Kings want to be successful, Murray will have to tune in to Quick's ups and downs and not sit him out when he's on a roll and not be afraid to send Bernier out more frequently when Quick begins a downward slide. This is much easier said than done, especially from afar.
Recently on the NHL Rush with Brodie Brazil and Drew Hoffar, they described the Red Wing's goaltender as "elite." (For those of you Wings fans, I am not using the quotes as mocking air quotes but actually quoting the radio hosts. Just wait until you read the rest of the paragraph to get red.) Howard ranked 33rd in the NHL with a 0.908 SVP with 37 wins in 63 games played. Considering that he was third in wins just below Price and Luongo had 38, this stat is impressive. However, on DIGR, Howard ranked 40th with a 0.9064 SVP. Schuckers' study does compare the goalie's DIGR with that of an average goalie. In Howard's case, the average goalie would have a 0.9137 SVP. Yikes! So how is it that Howard has so many wins yet a less than average SVP? Well, when you play on a team that has Zetterberg, Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Franzen, Holmstrom, Cleary, and Rafalski, it isn't that hard to figure out how they win. Many of the Wings's games last season were high scoring. Despite the fact that Howard had a 2.79 GAA, it was the Wings's offense that kept the team winning. Yes, I think Howard deserves to be a number one goaltender (heck, he was on my fantasy team last year), but I wouldn't begin to compare him with Thomas or Luongo. And yes, in case Drew and/or Brodie is reading this, "Texter Jen" is me.
One name that I was surprised to see on the list was Mikka Kiprusoff. The experts love to rave about this goaltender. In the NHL, he ranked 34th (just below Howard), with a 0.906 SVP with 37 wins (same as Howard) in 71 games. On DIGR's list, he ranked 45th with a 0.9020 SVP. Again, like Howard, Kiprusoff's SVP was lower than the average goalie would would have had a 0.9198. This is a goaltender who commands a $7 million salary (like Rinne). He is a good goaltender, but given his stats from last season, he underperformed. To command the salary that he does, he is going to have to make more stops. However, as the discrepancy between DIGR and the NHL demonstrated, part of his success came from having Giordano, Bouwmeester, and Reghr on D. The Flames were just shy of the playoffs last season, so they'll need Kiprusoff to do a little more to make it this year.
One last goaltender that should be mention is Niklas Backstrom. He ranked 20th in the NHL with a 0.916 SVP and 22 wins of 51 games. He ranked 33rd on the DIGR with a 0.9120 SVP. When most people think about the Wild, they probably first think of Mikko Koivu then Backstrom. He's an essential piece of the team. However, his success was partially due to his defense. Burns, Zidlicky, and Barker created opportunities for him to make the saves. This season, it will be interesting to see if there is a drop in his SVP considering that Burns and Barker are no longer with the team. This does give Zanon and Schultz a chance to step up and make the big defensive plays which will be key to the team's success.