Thursday, January 17, 2008

Something Strange

I don't really know how to preface this right so I'll just say it. If you divide up Luongo's stats last season between games where he faced less than 25 shots and games where he faced more than 25 shots you get something kind of weird:

His save% in games where he faced less than 25 shots: 0.888
His save% in games where he faced more than 25 shots: 0.931

What the fuck, huh? This is probably too big a difference to attribute to chance. It seems like Louongo actually plays better the more shots he faces(In fact, if you just look at games where he faced 40 shots or more, his save% is an even higher 0.941) This is a bit counter-intuitive. I think a lot of people might have guessed that he'd do better with a lighter workload. Then again, we've all heard announcers say that goalies play better when they get a lot of work.

What I really want to know is wether this is just a fluke for Luongo, or wether it's a more general principle that applies to all goalies. If it does actually apply to all goalies, then it's pretty significant. Based on this, teams may want to rethink the belief that getting as many shots on net as possible is a good thing, for example. The problem's that I lack the necessary Excel/data mining skills to approach this in a systematic manner, so I really can't prove anything conclusively. If anyone who does wants to give it a shot, please, be my guest.

Another thing I should mention is that even if it's established that goalies generally have higher save percentages in games where they face a lot of shots, this doesn't prove that facing more shots actually causes them to play better. There's also the possibility that games where they face a lot of shots are fundamentally different(more shots=lower shot quality, perhaps?), and goalies don't actually do better in these games because they face a lot of shots, but for other reasons(again, shot quality). To test which of these posibilities is true, it might be good to divide shots faced by goalies between "early game shots" and "late game shots" and compare their save % between those two shot types(i.e. compare goalies save% for the first 25 shots they faced in every game to their save % in the shots faced after shot 25) . If it's facing lots of shots that makes goalies better, then the "late game shot" save percentage should be significantly higher. Again, I lack the skills to do this myself, but it might be a nice little diversion for someone who knows what they're doing. (Thinking about it more, I guess there's a good chance that someone has already done this and I'm just wasting everyone's time. If anyone's seen anything like this done on another site please let me know in the comments.)


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The Forechecker said...

I've taken a look at this question, and you may be onto something, particularly where Luongo is concerned!