Thursday, April 9, 2009

Backstrom Vezina Chatter?

Wild fans certainly know how good Nik Backstrom is, his having saved the team's collective bacon what seems like dozens of times this season being evidence alone. But is the league starting to take notice as well?

Kipper's line: appearing in 74 games, amassing a 45-22-5 (60.81%) record, a 2.81 GAA, a 0.904 SPCT and 4 shutouts.

Nabby's line: 59 GP, 40-10-8 (67.79%) record, a 2.43 GAA, a 0.911 SPCT and 6 shutouts.

Backs' line: 69 GP, 35-24-8 (50.72%) record, a 2.33 GAA, a 0.923 SPCT and 8 shutouts.


Those are three good goalies having very good years. You could make the case that each of them is his team's MVP as well, based on either how little-used their backups are or how they have performed relative to their backups.

You have to like the fact that Backstrom has the lowest GAA and highest SPCT in the group, even though GAA is more of a team stat. He does have the worst winning-percentage in the group which will hurt him. Does his group-best number of shutouts help off-set that in the voting? We'll see. But, in any event, these are three pretty evenly matched keepers.

In an effort to help clarify the picture, let's take a look at some secondary statistics.

Team goals for/game rankings (season-to-date):
San Jose 7th (3.09)
Calgary 8th (3.08)
Minnesota 25th (2.50)

Team goals against/game rankings (season-to-date):
Minnesota 2nd (2.38)
San Jose 3rd (2.39)
Calgary 23rd (3.00)

Team shots against/game rankings (season-to-date):
San Jose 1st (27.3)
Calgary 16th (29.6)
Minnesota 21st (30.7)


First, how freakin' good is San Jose? Yikes! They score a lot, don't get scored on very often and play great defense. They have also tasted playoff defeat recently - which is a pretty good leading indicator of future playoff success.

But, all that extra goal support that Nabby and Kipper get over Backs is a plus for Backs in the Vezina consideration. The bottom line is that Backs has a smaller margin for error than the other two guys.

Another strike against Kipper has to be the relatively low goals against/game ranking for the Flames, certainly relative to the Wild and Sharks.

I was frankly surprised to see the Wild giving up so many shots. I was prepared to make the point that, "since the Wild allow so few shots, Backstrom's SPCT should be the highest of the three." But the Wild allows the *most* shots of the three teams, which makes Backs' best-in-group SPCT even more compelling (and also partially debunks the "he's just a product of the system he plays in" myth.)

It would certainly appear that you could make a strong case for Nik Backstrom winning the Vezina Trophy this year - to go along with his Jennings Trophy a couple years ago.



KiPA - Kevin in PA said...

That's a Minnesota award winner I'd get behind.

As a Kiprusoff fantasy owner, let me say, sure, he might have the most wins, but he should NOT win the Vezina. You talk about goals against being a team stat; well, no more so than wins. A goalie can't help his own cause.

Nabokov...maybe. He's been really really good and he's also sometimes been really really bad. Mostly good but, since he's helping to lose me a fantasy championship to you, he shouldn't win it either.

I think Lundqvist had a down year; Brodeur was hurt of course, albeit set the wins record.

You didn't talk about Tim Thomas for Vezina though. Leads the league in GAA and save percentage for the top team in the East. He's Backstrom's stiffest competition; I'll let you do the other stat analysis. Maybe the sort-of platoon he was part of will hurt him, but Fernandez isn't starting much anymore. Thomas doesn't face as many shots but he stops most of the ones he does see.

Pekka Rinne and Steve Mason should get consideration but won't; Mason will likely win the Calder and I think should be strongly considered for the Hart as well. I can't imagine Columbus would be in the playoffs without him, especially since Leclaire got hurt.

Nick in New York said...

I can't believe I forgot to mention Thomas - whom I think is awesome!

The article I cited only mentioned Kipper, Nabby and Backs, so I focused on them. But no excuses for omitting one of my favorite goalies in the league.

Unknown said...

It should come down to Thomas or Backstrom, with my vote going to Thomas.

Scary thing about the GF v GA stats is that only the Sabres and Wild are going to score more goals than they give up and miss the playoffs.

KiPA - Kevin in PA said...

You should be ashamed, Nick. As penance, I declare you should forfeit any stats Thomas provided for you.