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

327

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.

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.

– – –

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 Leafs – Leafs 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?

– – –

 

  • MaxwellHowe

    The brighter minds in hockey say that a team is built from the net out, so personally I think Nonis did the right thing here – that he made this trade with little support from Leafs Nation (everyone was generally happy with Reimer) says to me that he is a guy that trusts his own instincts and the advice of his staff. 
    And there is little doubt Leafs mgt. see Bernier as the goalie of the future.  Lets face it, from Nonis’ perspective, the best scenario is Bernier plays awesome and claims the #1 spot, while Reimer plays as well as he usually does- and the Leafs can reap a good return in a trade late next spring or summer.

  • Zep2

    Reimer /Bernier should give us the best goaltending we’ve seen since pre -lockout Eagle.
    However , i think that Reimer will be sent to the Oilers or Flames by next summer. All he does is win, but his
    injury problems and putrid puck handling has left management in doubt. 
    If im wrong Im ok with that because it will mean he’s had a heck of a season and carried us into the playoffs

  • Burtonboy

    Thanks Aaron . Your stats seem to back up what I’ve always thought for my own observations . Not a big fan of tandems and I never have been. I believe the really good goalies in the league need and want to play and play a lot. Very good chance the Leafs so -called tandem will be very short lived. Maybe even less then a season depending who wins the battle for the Leafs # 1 job. Should be an interesting battle between Bernier and Reimer in the coming months

  • peterbleafs

    Zep2 I would think that Reimer would have spent most of his offseason focusing on puck handling as that is his only major weakness.  A team needs two quality goalies to win.  
    What a great morning, watching storms approach from a balcony, taking day off keeping my feet up.

  • Dan39

    MaxwellHowe I personally think Reimer was made to look a lot better by the Leafs strong defensive system under Carlyle than he actually is. 
    So SV%, for example, was inflated relative to the “scoring chances” stat that the Leafs track. I think that is what is playing into the Leafs signing Bernier.

  • Dan39

    peterbleafs Zep2 Great to work for the government, eh?

  • peterbleafs

    Yeah.  Rain is natures sounding board for personal reflection.

  • Jantz

    Zep2 Not sure about your trade scenario but I agree with the rest of your comments.

  • dlb eh

    Dan39 MaxwellHowe 
    but that doesn’t explain how Reimer looked great when Wilson was the coach, before Gionta hit him.

  • Jantz

    peterbleafs Zep2 
    Not only puck handling. His rebound control on easy shots can be really poor at times. Also his glove hand. It’s not about being beaten high on his glove hand which the MSM wrongly focused on all the time. I don’t have a problem with his reflexes which I think are above average. It is his problem catching and holding on to the puck.
    So many times, clear unobstructed shots and he couldn’t catch them. I swear that he needs his eyes checked.I love Reimer and I would be happy to see him maintain his # 1 status however, if at the age of 24 you can’t handle the puck, how much better can he get going forward as it has been an issue his whole Jr and professional career.
     I would think that he has been working at it hard ever since he was drafted…….. I just don’t see how his puck handling will ever approach being at least adequate.

  • Jantz

    MaxwellHowe I hated to see Frattin go but I am all in on Bernier now that he is here. Another option to your second paragraph is that even if Bernier claims the # 1 job,we resign Reimer as a RFA to be an excellent back up and then when some team becomes desparate or a good team loses there # 1 then we unload JR for an even better return in 2014/2015.

  • Dan39

    Jantz MaxwellHowe Don’t worry, we got another Frattin in the system – he’s named Josh Leivo.

  • Burtonboy

    30 in 30: Gardiner’s role X-factor for Maple Leafs
    http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=680517
    Carlyle” “There aren’t many people who can move on the ice and move the puck and skate the puck as effectively as he can,” Carlyle told NHL.com. “We just think that he is going to be a fixture on our blue line for years to come.”

  • MaxwellHowe

    Jantz MaxwellHowe Yeah, the only thing is no one wants to see a protracted goalie controversy.  If Reimer still plays as well as he has (though Bernier plays better), is he really gonna want back-up money and back-up playing time?  In that scenario, Reimer might be the one pushing to be traded

  • Jantz

    Dan39 Jantz MaxwellHowe I agree that Leivo’s potential clearly made it easier to unload Frattin. Time will tell if he can continue to exceed expectations. 
    I have complete confidence that this organization can continue to manage the assets that we have and continue to use the trade market to effectively improve the roster.

  • Jantz

    MaxwellHowe Jantz Only JR knows the answer to that. If the Leafs continue to improve and enjoy more play-off success then I don’t see him rocking the boat next summer. He will hopefully have another decade to be an established # 1.
    I for one will not be sucked into the endless debate that will follow the Leafs goaltending status for the entire season. I expect to have confidence in whoever plays and trust that Carlyle will make the right call 90 % of the time.
    When St Louis finished 2nd in the west in 2011/2012 I bet there was no goaltending controversy. Maybe in the media but not in the locker room.

  • Leafs rule

    BurtonboyYes thanks Aron ,this is what I wanted to see>> 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).

  • Jantz

    Jim Lang on the FAN590 already asked this morning how quickly in training camp will the leafs address who will be the # 1 goalie. What an idiot he is at times. He should not be doing any interviews.

  • Leafs rule

    Dan39 Jantz MaxwellHowe Good to know ,I wish him the best and hope he is even better then Frats who I liked alot

  • Leafs rule

    dlb eh Dan39 MaxwellHowe Gionta U fuc ,no we havent forgot u

  • Cameron19

    Jantz peterbleafs Zep2 Is it possible you’re exaggerating significantly?  If he’s so inadequate, how is it hurting him?  He’s finished top 10 in save percentage 2 of 3 years in the NHL. I tend to think that things like that, and you know, winning, putting us in the playoffs, matter a lot more than worrying about his puck handling.

  • Cameron19

    Zep2 I don’t think the Oilers are really in a rush to replace Dubnyk.  They’re probably set in net once they sort out their atrocious team defense. Calgary could be an option, I just don’t see them having anything that we would want.

  • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

    Leafs rule dlb eh Dan39 MaxwellHowe “Our captain…’e was cryin in my arm because ‘e couldn’t play”

  • Cameron19

    MaxwellHowe Jantz Well, he’s certainly not going to accept back-up money like most posters seem to think he will.  He’ll be eligible for arbitration, too.  Reimer will command 4 million or more after this season, provided he doesn’t completely blow and take a huge step backwards.

  • Cameron19

    dlb eh Dan39 MaxwellHowe Yea, his numbers at that time were even stronger, I believe, and his win/loss record was outstanding.

  • LightmyLeaf

    Leafs rule Burtonboy Awesome once again Aaron. 
    I agree with BB, it is a short-lived scenario….but creating competition is good – find the hot hand. Its affordable, and sets up a trade-able piece for Nonis to work with in the future. 
    So if Riems plays lights out…its a good problem to have, but yes, difficult to get the contract done at that point, and he is more trade-able w a contract.
    I don’t expect Bernier to play anything but well….creates a trade-able piece, ….which I would say is good asset management….?

  • Cameron19

    MaxwellHowe This scenario puts us exactly back where we started, in my opinion.  The likelihood that Bernier is a significant upgrade over a goalie who was playing as a top 10 goalie in the league is slim. After creating a controversy and being faced with paying Reimer real money next off-season, it will be difficult for us to get the same return for him that we paid for Bernier, making that part of the equation a net loss.  We won’t be trading from a position of strength.

    And in the end we’re rolling a 25 year old with 100 games of experience.  Lets just look back to 1 year ago to when that was the case, and the whole fan base thought that was completely unacceptable to the point that many wanted to concede defeat and accept Gillis’ asking price for Luongo. But now, because Nonis “trusts his staff”, and “found his man” and all this other nonsense, it’s suddenly A-okay. I’m baffled by the reversal of so many posters on this issue.

    And those quotes aren’t directed at you Max, but everyone who has been saying the same thing.  You’re certainly not alone, so maybe I’m out to lunch on this one, but it seems to me that if Burke had tried to sell us on a new goalie for no reason with very little experience, no one would be having any of it.

  • Jantz

    Cameron19 Jantz peterbleafs Zep2 Criticizing his shortcomings doesn’t mean that I don’t like the guy. No doubt he played great for us.
    Why don’t you re read my post because I wasn’t even talking about his puck handling.

  • steele123

    Just found out my co-worker has mutual friends with Lupul and Bozak and went to a party at Lupul’s condo last summer. I called bullshit and she sure did show me their phone numbers and texts…wow…

  • LightmyLeaf

    Cameron19 dlb eh Dan39 MaxwellHowe I think the team playing as a team in front of him, was the common denominator for “before and after” the injury….all this disecting, we forget its a team sport, and the team wanted to play well in front of Riems – hes a good guy, who wouldn’t want to make him look good…adds up to wins as you say….

  • Cameron19

    Jantz Cameron19 peterbleafs Zep2 I read the post thoroughly, you talked about his puck handling. Your whole second paragraph is about puck handling, and then you conclude it unlikely he improve if he hasn’t by now. Finally you say it’s unlikely he ever becomes adequate at it, and I asked – if he’s so inadequate at it, how is it he manages top ten numbers 2 out of 3 years in the NHL?  

    But the bigger problem for me is the need to point out Reimer’s flaws, and the total inability for anyone to talk about Bernier’s – who Reimer has consistently out performed by a significant margin.

  • Jantz

    Cameron19 MaxwellHowe Jantz In a winning environment with both goalies playing well, you don’t know how he will react. Bottom line is he will be a RFA and we will be in a better position cap wise next year should his play dictate a sizeable increase is warranted.
    4 million seems like a bit of a stretch unless he plays 60 games and posts similar SV % numbers.

  • DARF24

    Cameron19 Because TSN told us the Benier was an upgrade on Reimer. I hope Reimer makes Nonis regret this trade.

  • Burtonboy

    30 in 30: Maple Leafs move on after rough ending
    http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=680519&navid=DL|NHL|home

    “We were tired of being the butt of some of the jokes in the League, especially in our market, where we have fans that are very intensely involved,” Toronto coach http://www.nhl.com/ice/player.htm?id=8445938 told NHL.com. “We had to do a better job of preparing ourselves and expecting more of ourselves to put ourselves in a position to compete for a playoff spot. We did a lot of things as a group and we’re going to have to continue to grow. We can do it if we stick together, stick to the plan. We have a group that can play to a higher level. We’re going to have to this season.”

  • Cameron19

    Jantz Cameron19 MaxwellHowe It’s not a stretch at all.  Take a look around the league.  Schneider got 4 million for playing 50 games, and had never achieved anything close to what Reimer has – namely, putting his team on his back.  Pavelec got 4 million for putting up a 900 save percentage.  Bernier himself got 3 million for playing 50 games over FOUR seasons!!  Mike Smith, a career 900 and below goalie with 1 good year under his belt makes almost 6 million dollars now.  Jaroslav Halak got 3.75 million for playing 40 games for the Canadiens – and that was when the cap was still below 60 million; salaries have since gone up.

    I think we’re being incredibly unrealistic if we think he’s taking less than Bernier got.

  • Jantz

    Cameron19 MaxwellHowe We upgraded at a very reasonable cost at the most important position. I fail to see how having more competition is a bad thing. Reimer has had 2 great partial seasons so if the injury bug returns or he gets outplayed then how is that a problem. It’s the NHL and every team is looking to bring in more competition.

  • Cameron19

    Jantz Cameron19 MaxwellHowe I don’t have an issue with bringing him in.  What I have an issue with is the notion that if Reimer wants to be paid for his performance, he has to be traded because management has apparently already decided on Bernier.  Normally the board can’t jump all over management’s ineptitude fast enough, but apparently on this one occasion, it’s totally okay to just believe whatever they’re selling us. 

    The notion that Reimer can’t make 4 million dollars because Nonis “found his man” is just such ridiculous nonsense to me. What Nonis and his staff thinks has nothing to do with setting market value, or even determining which goalie will ultimately play more games.  Carlyle will make that decision.  And yet apparently the fan base has already decided they don’t want to pay Reimer, and totally jumped on board with this loony idea that because Nonis said so, Bernier is an upgrade. Call me old fashioned, but I’d like to see Bernier out perform Reimer – just once – before coming to that conclusion.

  • Jantz

    For the record. I was onboard with bringing in Luongo for Komisarek and a 3rd or 4th ….. thats it. Had no interest in doing a normal trade knowing that we would have cap issues once we got 5 years down the road.

  • Burtonboy

    30 in 30: Goalies among Maple Leafs questions
    http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=680513&navid=nhl:topheads

    What is the right thing to do when it comes to http://www.nhl.com/ice/player.htm?id=8476853? — The right answer will depend on how Rielly performs in training camp. The only thing known for sure is the defenseman isn’t old enough to start the season in the AHL with the Marlies, so it’s either the NHL or back to the Western Hockey League for the 19-year-old, who was the Maple Leafs’ first-round pick (No. 5) in 2012.

  • Cameron19

    Yaknowwhat Disagree that those 3 are all weaknesses – I’d give you puck handling.  Disagree even more strongly that Bernier has superior rebound control or glove hand.  I’ll leave it at that.

  • Cameron19

    Jantz But you take my point though, surely.  People were furious that we were X years into a rebuild and were icing a 25 year old goalie with 100 games of less experience. Now if Bernier plays more than half the season this year, and Reimer is traded, we’ll be right back to the same scenario which was apparently unacceptable a year ago.

  • Jantz

    Cameron19 Jantz peterbleafs Zep2 I can’t talk about Bernier’s flaws because I have no idea what they are. I’m sure he will have some, like almost any goalie.I haven’t gone back to watch a bunch of his games. I will wait to see him this season.

    TBH, its his failure to catch the puck and control rebounds that is the bigger issue. Clearly if he improves on his weaknesses then his overall numbers will be even better.
    I pointed out his puck handling because it leads to more pressure in our end and the D coughing up the puck more frequently because he has a hard time even stopping the puck behind the net.
    Why do you think we traded for Bernier ?

  • Cameron19

    Jantz Cameron19 peterbleafs Zep2 

    It doesn’t matter why we traded for him! That’s my whole point.  You can make trades with plans in mind all you want – it doesn’t mean that it will play out that way on the ice.  But for some reason many have said that since we acquired him it must be because he is replacing Reimer, and therefore he’s the new starter.

    Maybe Nonis has it in the back of his mind that he’d like Bernier to succeed Reimer, and maybe not.  Personally I think he’s worried he can’t count on Reimer for more than 50 games a season, and he needed someone who could play 40+ games if Reimer gets injured, whereas Scrivens was really only capable of 10-20, tops. 

    Despite all the flaws of Reimer, he has superior numbers to Bernier consistently.  And he achieved this while playing harder competition behind a far worse team defensively. I mean, he must be doing something right, and yet you and so many others make it sound like he’s barely adequate.  Guy is top 10 in the league 2 of 3 years in the NHL.  How much better could Bernier possibly be?

  • LightmyLeaf

    Cameron19 Yaknowwhat I think as the team goes, so does Riems, and the score….the glove was not a myth, but it improved. I’ve heard he’s working on the puck handling. The team falls apart in the 3rd game 7, rebounds occur…
    As said below, we forget its a team sport, and the team played well in front of Riems, before and after injury….they want to play well for him…wins occur….stats be damned…
    The competition and insurance will be nothing but good…

  • Komas Taberle

    Cameron19 Yaknowwhat I agree with everything youknowwhat said and disagree with Cameron.
    Bernier is a much quicker goalie too, the fact that the league is lowering pad height favours the type of goalie Bernier is over the blocker type Reimer is.The only advantage Reimer has over Bernier is height but Bernier positioning is far superior so that takes care of the advantage.I look for Reimer to be traded at trade deadline.
    Like I said I watched the last 11Mins of game 7 and OT, over and over, and 3 of 4 goals should have been saved, that is why Nonis brought in Bernier, he wouldn’t give up those kind of goals.
    Bernie takes the #1 job early and doesn’t look back.

  • Cameron19

    LightmyLeaf Cameron19 Yaknowwhat Martin Brodeur has said that evaluating a goalie off rebound control is asinine.  He says it’s luck based, and even he very rarely has time to think about where he’s directing a rebound.  Talking about it at all is just a product of non-goalies calling the game. 

    As far as game 7 goes, one of the rebounds you’re talking about was a Chara slapshot to the throat – how many goalies do you think are properly controlling that rebound?

    I’d give you the winning goal, but at that point the whole team had fallen apart.

  • Cameron19

    Komas Taberle Cameron19 Yaknowwhat lol, Your blind support of Bernier continues to astound me.  I’m sure you’ve tuned into all of Bernier’s relief efforts and second string starts to come to this conclusion though.

  • Burtonboy

    Marlies new head coach owes everything to Peter DeBoerhttp://kylethereporter.com/2013/08/22/marlies-new-head-coach-owes-everything-to-peter-deboer/

  • Jmessih

    You have to be joking saying Reimer’s rebound control and glove hand are not a weakness

  • Cameron19

    Jmessih Nope, I’m not.  I just don’t believe everything I hear.  Despite constantly being told about it, Reimer very rarely gets beat glove hand. He could certainly do a better job of catching it and stopping the play though, I’d give you that.  I don’t think that’s really hurting him though.

    I would turn it around on you though – if these are such obvious and detrimental weaknesses, what does it say about Bernier that Reimer has outperformed him consistently despite playing harder competition with a lesser team to support him?