Riding The Hot Goalie Fallacy
Common wisdom in the NHL is that a goalie can carry a team in the playoffs. The Bruins / Flyers series was a blueprint about the fallacy of this commonly accepted wisdom. Tucca Rask was the hot goalie coming into the series, while the Flyers had to resort to their backup goalie after Michael Leighton after Brian Boucher went down with an injury. What happens, Flyers win and everybody in Boston is asking why didn’t Claude Julien replace Tucca in games 6 or 7.
The fact of the matter is, there is not a huge difference between goalies in the NHL. I just finished reading Stumbling on Wins were two economist take the Moneyball approach to dissect other sports statistics.
What they found was that over a course of an 82 game season the best season ever by a goalie Curtis Joseph (92-93) only provided 8 wins more than an average goalie. To make it more clear how close the best goalie and an average goalie are:
“Brodeur’s carrer performance after the 2008-09 season was only worth 33.5 Wins Above Average. Remember Broduer is the all-time leader in career wins. If Brodeur was replaced by an average goalie, though, this average goalie would be ranked second all-time with 524 career wins.
Just to give you a comparison, in the 2008-2009 basketball season, Chris Paul led the league Wins Above Average with 22.0.
So layoff Tucca, whether him or another goalie probably would not have made a difference. Goalies just don’t matter as much as everyone thinks.