Jaroslav Halak’s 2010 playoffs in historical context

He shocked an entire league by morphing from part-time starter to all-world goaltender who owned Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. He put an entire city on his back and thrilled its people with his team’s deepest playoff run in almost 20 years. And finally, he was dealt for a guy named Lars.

Yes, of course, I’m talking about Jaroslav Halak’s 2010 springtime.

Much has been written about Halak being traded to St. Louis, with passionate voices being heard on both sides. To add context (and perhaps fuel) to the ongoing discourse surrounding the Halak move, I decided to look at his 2010 playoff performance in the light of the many wonderful playoff performances turned in by Montreal Canadiens goalies since Ken Dryden’s rookie season. I went back to the 1971 playoff season and isolated every single series performance turned in by a Montreal Canadiens goalie who had started at least three games in the relevant series. The results are visible in the table below. I concatenated three variables to create a code representing each series performance: goalie name-playoff year-round number. (e.g. Dryden-1979-2 for Ken Dryden’s performance in the second round in 1979).

Montreal Canadiens Playoff Goaltending Performances

Montreal Canadiens Single-Series Playoff Goaltending Performances (sorted by series save %)

As the table shows, Halak’s magisterial first round performance against Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals is among the top five single series performances turned in by a Canadiens goalie since 1971 (measured by aggregate save percentage in that series):

1. Steve Penney, 1984, Round 1 vs. Boston: .974 save percentage
2. Ken Dryden, 1976, Round 2 vs. Chicago: .973 save percentage
3. Ken Dryden, 1977, Round 2 vs. St. Louis: .962 save percentage
4. Patrick Roy, 1989, Round 3 vs. Philly: .940 save percentage
5. Jaroslav Halak, 2010, Round 1 vs. Washington: .939 save percentage

More impressive is the fact that he posted this save percentage while facing an average of 40.4 shots per 60 minutes played. Of the other goalies who registered top 5 single series performances, none faced more than 28 shots per 60 minutes. From a puck bombardment standpoint, the 40.4 shots per 60 minutes that Halak endured are the second most ever faced by a Canadiens goalie in a single playoff series, a hair behind the firestorm unleashed on Dryden by Boston in the 1971 playoffs (40.7).

In summary, when Halak was working his magic this spring, he was operating on a truly rarefied plateau. His heroics against Washington should be mentioned anytime discussions occur about the greatest Montreal Canadiens playoff goaltending performances.

The raw data that was used to compile the table above was pulled from Hockey-Reference.com and the Hockey Summary Project.

About these ads
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Comments

  • Mah Levine  On August 9, 2010 at 1:22 am

    In general save percentage is a good crude measure of goalie’s performance…but when it comes to identifying “greatest playoff performances” it lacks depth as a metric. I agree that Halak against Washington was incredible….but equally (if not better) was Dryden against Boston 1971. Dryden’s performance in 1971 was a far better performance than any of his performances in 76-79 (when he had an amazing team in front of him) but his save percentages were better in 76-79 than 1971. When it comes to “amazing performances” it is the concept of “stealing a series” that counts, not save percentage.

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: