MLHS Season Preview – Goaltending: Analysis of Like-Age Goalie Tandems From 2001-2012

MLHS Season Preview – Goaltending: Analysis of Like-Age Goalie Tandems From 2001-2012

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With training camp a little under 3 weeks away, we thought we’d get things started with the MLHS Season Preview Series. Leading up into training camp, our writers will break-down and provide insight into each position. This week, we’ll start the series with a look at the Leafs‘ goaltending duo of James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier.

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Next season’s tandem of James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier will be a focal point of discussion and debate.  Moreover, the trade for Jonathan Bernier has already driven a wedge between those who a) see Reimer as the Leafs‘ bonafide number 1 goalie deserving of management’s full confidence, and the trade and subsequent contract as unnecessary; b) believe Bernier was brought in to be the number 1, and c) think that fair and open competition between the two will ultimately decide who takes the starting job.  I’m leaning towards c), but this piece really isn’t about my opinion on how the goaltending situation will sort itself out.

One of the “what if” scenarios involves a 50/50 (or something like it) split between the two goalies. Reimer and Bernier would get an equal number of starts.  However, how well do these particular tandems, and their teams, perform?  Better yet, do we have any recent precedents for how a young 50/50 tandem might fair?  With these questions in mind, I decided to identify all the, let’s call them, split tandems between 2001 and 2012.  I excluded the most recent season because its abbreviated nature might skew results.

Technically, a 50/50 split would involve both goaltenders starting the exact same number of games, namely 41 games each. However, in order to facilitate the analysis, I decided to depart from this rigid definition and began by determining what the “Games Started Threshold” might be for a number one goaltender. The threshold I used was 70% of a full 82-game season, roughly 55 games, and I came to this number through crowd-sourcing on Twitter and eye-balling historical goalie stats on NHL.com.  So, any goalie with 55, or less, games started would fit the first sample criteria. The second criteria was that the goalie had to have started in, at least, 30 games. Since 30 games is nearly 40% of a season, I thought it would serve as a good floor. Therefore, I determined my sample by only including goalies who started between 30 and 55 games, from 2001-2012. One assumption I made is that any goalie who was traded mid-season was assumed to have played all games with whichever team he started the most games.

In total, there were 58 tandems in the sample. Some well known sample tandems included Potvin+Storr (LAK-2003), Lundqvist+Weekes (NYR-2006), Nabakov+Toskala (SJS-2006), Osgood+Hasek (DET-2008), and Halak+Elliott (STL-2012), just to name a few. From 2001 to 2012, on average, 6 teams per season employed split tandems and such tandems played an average of 79 games. Of the 58 tandems, 30 of them played for playoff teams (16 Eastern & 14 Western) and 2 were Stanley Cup Winners (DET-2008 and CHI-2010).  Here is a table containing a list of all the teams, per year:

 When you consider that 30 out of 58 (52%) split tandem teams were playoff teams, it doesn’t seem to suggest that such teams are any more likely to make the playoffs.  Add in their average Sv% and GAA, and split tandem teams don’t appear to outperform the league averages:

 Chart 1

Of course, Reimer and Bernier could outperform league averages. In other words, teams are generally no better off rolling two goalies, but that does not preclude the right combination of goalies from outperforming.

In perusing the data, I also noticed that the age ranges of tandems varied greatly. In fact, Dwayne Roloson and Nikolai Khabibulin popped-up numerous times in the sample.  Since we’re focused on Reimer and Bernier, both 25 years old as of the writing of this article, I decided to see if precedents existed in my sample.  I tried identifying other tandems where both goalies where between the ages of 23 and 27.  This search yielded only 6 tandems:

This particular sample is too small to be useful in terms of calculating averages, but it’s worth noting that only 6 out of 58 tandems were within Reimer and Bernier’s age-range, and that 4 of the 6 like-aged tandems are found in the past 3 years.  Oddly enough, 3 of them originated in the ‘old’ Northeast Division. Some may be tempted to point at Halak/Price or Halak/Elliott as successful tandems, but in most cases, a number 1 goalie emerged from the split tandem.

Finally, when you consider how much the Leafs are spending on goaltending ($4.7), relative to other Eastern Conference teams, it appears we’ve hedged the goalie position at a reasonable price for the upcoming season.  If you had to put your money on split tandem goaltending, you might as well do it at a reasonable price. Despite his proneness to injury, Reimer should start the year as the number 1 goaltender, but Bernier, with all his upside, shouldn’t be far behind.  All in all, the Leafs will have one of the youngest and cheapest duos in the East, along with nice upside.

There is, of course, a doomsday  scenario here, too. Let’s first assume the Leafs don’t lose Franson because of the current cap squeeze, and that the addition of Bernier’s $2.9 mill doesn’t cost the Leafs a significant asset before he plays his first game. The one  scenario where the Leafs could end up with some undesirable side effects is if Reimer puts a definitive clamp on the number 1 spot. Then, we’re  looking at the prospect of considerably pricier goaltending, with a $2.9M back-up in a year where we’ll need to re-sign Reimer himself, Kessel, Phaneuf, Kulemin, Bolland, and Gardiner. Hopefully, Bernier still performs well in the games he does play in this scenario. While there’s little doubt the Leafs would be able to move Bernier if this is the case,  it certainly looks bad if this is the end result and the Leafs don’t garner more than what they gave up in the trade.

Overall, last season the Leafs were tied for 7th in team Sv% (0.917) but placed 17th in goals allowed. It goes without saying that the goal will be for the Leafs to reduce the number of shots against and hope that Reimer and Bernier can sustain a top-10 Sv%. The combination of the two would alleviate some of the pressure on the offensive group to replicate last season’s 6th overall performance achieved with a league-leading shooting percentage. The Leafs still appear poised to be among the better offensive clubs in the league, however, and it’s a pretty tantalizing thought if that indeed remains the case all the while the full potential of their young goaltending tandem is also realized.

Table 3

I think everything can be summed-up in the following points:

  • Whether it is Sv% or GAA, there appears to be no discernible advantage in rolling two goalies
  • There is barely any precedent for like-age split tandems that are similar to Reimer and Bernier, however
  • Reimer taking sole-possession of the starter’s role could be an undesirable scenario asset management wise and maybe cap management wise as well, which puts fans in an awkward position.

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Morning Links

The Star (Kevin McGran): “Maple Leafs going to be the hunted, not the hunters” – Said Jay McClement

Kyle the Reporter: Blacker ready to push for roster spot with LeafsLeafs D already crowded but sounds like Nonis & Co. still believe in Blacker

TLN: Top Twenty Prospects: Connor Brown (#18)Via Ryan Fancey

PPP: Top 25 under 25: Petter Granberg (#13)Bright future for this tough Swede

Edmonton Sun: Eakins to Oilers’ players: “Don’t get left behind”Those young stars are lucky to have him as a coach

The Globe and Mail: Canadian Medical Association comes down hard on NHL owners over hockey violence - Why on Earth should we listen to doctors and scientists?

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290 comments
LeafErikson
LeafErikson

Has anyone pointed out Sean Burke was closer to 37 in 2004, not 27? Born 1967.

maple1967leafs
maple1967leafs

whats the differance between both goalies as far as shootouts go ??

theacs1966
theacs1966

Grabbo to sign in Washington.  Makes sense, I hope he rips it up this year, just not against Toronto, although he seemed to save his best play for games with Montreal.

Dangle_My_Berries
Dangle_My_Berries

just installed a new SSD into my macbook pro.....SOOOOO Much FASTER!

daveybolland
daveybolland

Fear The Fin@fearthefin 2m

So the two best contracts of the summer could be given to players leaving the Leafs while the two worst were signed by the Leafs. Yikes.

K, I get the reservations about Clarkson...  but hard to imagine a scenario where Bernier's contract ends up among the worst of the summer lol

Black_Hawk
Black_Hawk

man this new playoff format is still gonna take awile to get use too 

daveybolland
daveybolland

Yeahhh the advanced stats crowd can go be capitals fans now and leave us alone.

ingy56
ingy56

@wiski Anyone old enough to remember Mac-Tac?

Waiting4LSC
Waiting4LSC

Yeah, you might just find out HOW GREAT he can be. He played for the Blue and White - a little respect might be in order.

ingy56
ingy56

@wiski A friend of mine owns a company that rehabs transformers and builds new ones. It's a going concern. They could be his, off to market. 

Waiting4LSC
Waiting4LSC

Just a regurgitation of every recent article. Well done' original thought is alive and well in the NHL. Burkie there's a huge challenge for you, if the owners have any brain cells!!!

Xxxxxnew
Xxxxxnew

On Clarkson, I could care less if he hits 30 goals again. What I want to see is Clarkson making more room for Kadri to operate out there, making the line successful, and, in turn, taking some of the opposition's focus off our so called first line.

Xxxxxnew
Xxxxxnew

One year, $3 mil, pencilled in as No. 2 centre according to the Washington Post.

ingy56
ingy56

@wiski I send her out for beer and she buys a new dress....she's gonna get it when she gets home!

mcloki
mcloki

@wiski You couldn't pay me enough to give a shit.

DWCMLHS
DWCMLHS

Clarkson and Bozak are the terrible contracts. Doubt he's talking about Bernier, although he did get more than he's earned this far in his career, by a long shot.

Komas Taberle
Komas Taberle

@daveybolland Must be a sharks fan talking , WTF do they know about hockey?

daveybolland
daveybolland

K, I get the reservations about Clarkson...  but hard to imagine a scenario where Bernier's contract ends up among the worst of the summer lol

Leafs rule
Leafs rule

@Burtonboy Thanks burton much better ,really likes Broll and biggs a left and a righty ,seems like a natural forward pairing  at 235 pds  and 224 pnds even lol

ingy56
ingy56

@Waiting4LSC Yeah, just posted it because it's Leaf-related. Not much out there yet other than it appears Simmons and Cocks are back off vacation.

The_Polish_Cannon
The_Polish_Cannon

@The Toronto Maple Leaf @wiski You dont need Corsi to know that Grabovski is a really good player. Playing under Carlyle butchered his value and made everyone forget about the Belarusian Rocket we all loved. He'll fit in perfectly with the Caps 

Komas Taberle
Komas Taberle

@daveybolland @Komas Taberle Yeah one who can forecheck, fight , score goals and shows up more than 10 times a season.

daveybolland
daveybolland

@Komas Taberle ?

It's pretty good value for his production. We just had a need for a different type of winger.

Komas Taberle
Komas Taberle

@daveybolland @Komas Taberle Fear the Fin thinks that Ottawa signing MacArthur for 3.25M is a great signing tells me all i need to know about this guy!