It’s a cliche, but it’s one of my favorites: “The goaltender has to make that save.”
With the recent injury to Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, the Kings are relying on two netminders who, combined, probably wouldn’t have played more than 15-20 games this season. Instead, Jeff Zatkoff and Peter Budaj have been thrown into the fire, and suffice it to say, they haven’t started quite as well as Ben Scrivens and Martin Jones did when Quick hurt his groin three years ago.
The key sticking point for both so far has been allowing goals at bad times. The times that make fans say, “The goaltender has to make that save.” There are three types of situations where you see that: near the end of the game...
... near the end of the period...
Martinez turnover, but yea, that's a must-stop for Zatkoff. If I was a Wild fan there, I"d start chanting, "Ondrej! Ondrej!! Ondrej!!!"— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) October 19, 2016
... and on easy shots.
Oh, that's a terrible one for Zatkoff to give up. Doubly terrible considering how quickly the Kings were able to spot him a goal.— Jewels frm the Crown (@JFTC_Kings) October 19, 2016
So when the Kings have needed a save this year, they generally haven’t gotten it. How does this compare to the past three seasons? Using play-by-play data from Corsica, which is a very good site for all your fancy-stat needs, we can find out. In Part 1, we’re examining situations where the other team has pulled their goaltender.
NOTE: The below numbers may include goals which were scored when the goalie was pulled due to a delayed penalty. I removed first and second period goals to account for this, but it’s impossible to distinguish third period goals now that goalies are being pulled this early. Gee, thanks, Colorado.
You already know Budaj has allowed goals with the extra attacker on in two straight games. In 2015-16, the Kings allowed one goal with the net empty. All year. Here it is:
In contrast, the Kings scored nine empty-net goals, and seventeen other times, they held the opponent off the scoreboard when facing the extra attacker. This really looks impressive when you look at the save percentages. Jonathan Quick stopped 34 of 35 shots when the opponent had the extra attacker out there, and Jhonas Enroth stopped the only three shots he faced over two games. In 2015-16, there were 155 goals scored with an extra attacker on 1414 shots, for a leaguewide .890 save percentage. Here were the leaders in save percentage (minimum ten shots):
Having said that, 2014-15 was a different story. Quick allowed five goals after the opponent had pulled their own goaltender, two of which came in the same game against Johnny Gaudreau. Quick faced 55 shots against the extra attacker, second-most in the NHL behind Ben Bishop, so he wasn’t awful considering the circumstances. In fact, his .909 was above the leaguewide save percentage of .900. The top ten:
And in the Cup-winning season of 2013-14? Quick was, once again, above average, stopping 31 of 34 shots for a .912 save percentage. As for his backups, Jones stopped 7 of 7 and Scrivens stopped 6 of 7, though a few other guys were better even than Jones.
This year, Peter Budaj is 0 for 2, as both Dallas and (on a 6-on-4) Vancouver scored on their first shot on goal after pulling their goaltender. This doesn’t look like a very repeatable “skill” for a goalie — Carey Price is the only netminder to rank top-ten in each of the past three seasons — but Quick was sensational under fire when protecting leads last season, and so far Budaj’s failed his first two tests. It hasn’t cost LA any points yet, but it certainly could in the next three months.