Carey Price’s Goals Allowed: November 2010

In the second installment in this series, it’s time to visually inspect the goals allowed by Carey Price in the month of November 2010 (you can find Carey Price’s October 2010 goals allowed here).

November 2010 was a tremendous month for Carey, as the moustachioed one posted a 9-4-1 record with 3 shutouts and an aggregate save percentage of .947, this despite facing an average barrage of slightly more than 32 shots per game.

Carey Price’s Goals Allowed: October 2010

For your viewing, dissecting, and obsessing pleasure, I’ve put together a visual compilation of all the goals conceded by Carey Price in the first month of the 2010-2011 NHL season. Accompanying each visual is the meta-data about the goal, pulled directly from the full play-by-play logs.

When analyzing the performance of a goalie, quantitative metrics like save percentage, goals against average, and won-loss record only go so far towards truly encapsulating the overall quality of that netminder. Qualitative assessments of each goal must be undertaken to paint a true picture of his performance.

I am far from being a goaltending specialist, but it is my hope that a technician can take this presentation and tell us a far more vivid and meaningful story about Carey’s strengths and weaknesses than the standard statistics allow for.

Carey: a postseason history

I did a shot-by-shot breakdown of Carey Price’s 2010 playoff performance and looked at his save percentage by every possible split. Working from the NHL play-by-play sheets, I was able to amass a lot of data about the shots he faced: situation, shooter, shot type, distance, and location on the ice. Below, you can see the variations in his save percentage from situation to situation.

I’m going to be taking a break from blogging for awhile to focus on some personal things, but my goal for 2010-2011 is to perform this type of tracking and classification for every single shot faced by Habs goalies. There’s just one thing missing from the NHL play-by-play sheets: shot trajectory. They don’t log the path a shot takes towards the net. So, from the logs alone, I have no visibility into whether a shot is going high glove side or low stick side or five hole or whatnot. To overcome that, I’ll chart each shot and then reconcile my numbers with the play-by-play data. A fun challenge!

Anyway, see you in the new season. Enjoy Carey’s 2010 playoff numbers for now:

Split Goals Saves Shots Save %
Even strength 6 51 57 0.895
on Power Play 1 0 1 0.000
Short Handed 1 14 15 0.933
vs. Defencemen 0 15 15 1.000
vs. Forwards 8 50 58 0.862
Shooter’s S%: <10%* 1 19 20 0.950
Shooter’s S%: 10% – 14%* 6 21 27 0.778
Shooter’s S%: >14%* 1 25 26 0.962
Backhand 1 5 6 0.833
Slap 0 14 14 1.000
Snap 1 8 9 0.889
Wrist 6 35 41 0.854
Other type 0 3 3 1.000
1 – 15 ft away 4 14 18 0.778
16 – 30 ft away 3 17 20 0.850
31 – 45 ft away 1 15 16 0.938
46 ft + away 0 19 19 1.000
from Slot 5 24 29 0.828
from Carey’s LEFT 1 21 22 0.955
from Carey’s RIGHT 2 18 20 0.900
Neutral zone 0 2 2 1.000
* note that these are regular season figures

Habs Coaches: second year blues

Quick Sunday post this evening.

A few weeks ago, I detailed how the Montreal Canadiens’ stunning playoff run deodorized what was an historically lackluster first regular season for coach Jacques Martin. Well, if history is anything to go by, regular season #2 could be even tougher for Martin.

Since the beginning of Toe Blake’s tenure, there has been an uncanny tendency for Habs teams to regress during a coach’s second full regular season leading the squad. Since 1955-1956, 9 coaches have started their Habs coaching tenure with at least two full regular seasons. Looking at their teams’ year-over-year performances in terms of three distinct metrics–changes in regulation winning %, team goals versus NHL average (GVA), and team goals allowed versus NHL average (GAVA)–it becomes readily apparent that success behind the Habs bench during a coach’s second regular season has been significantly harder to come by.

Red denotes a year over year decline in the relevant metric, and there’s a lot of red on that table. Indeed, only Scotty Bowman and Guy Carbonneau posted better numbers across the board in their second regular seasons as Habs bench bosses. That’s the bad news. The good news is that two coaches (Blake and Bowman) won Stanley Cups in their second seasons, while 3 more made it as least as far as the second round.

Blake: From 1st to 2nd in 6-team league (won Cup)
Ruel: From 1st in the East to 5th in the East (no playoffs)
Bowman: From 3rd in East to 1st in East (won Cup)
Berry: From 1st in the Adams to 2nd in the Adams (swept in Round 1)
Perron: Held steady at 2nd in the Adams (lost in Conference Finals)
Burns: From 1st in the Adams to 3rd in the Adams (eliminated in Round 2)
Demers: Held steady at 3rd in division (bounced in Round 1)
Vigneault: From 4th in Northeast to 5th in Northeast (no playoffs)
Carbonneau: From 4th in Northeast to 1st in Northeast (fell in Round 2)

So where will Martin fit into all this? Hopefully more like Carbo than Vigneault or more like Bowman than Berry.

Habs’ Playoff Goaltending Performances: redux

A few weeks back, I prepared a post that compared Jaroslav Halak’s 2010 playoff series performances against those turned in by other Montreal Canadiens goalies, going back to Key Dryden’s rookie season. While I was happy with the piece I did, I had a lingering sense of doubt after it went out. Something was missing; the analysis was too simplistic, too cursory.

Later it came to me: in ranking Canadiens’ playoff goaltending performances solely on the basis of nominal save percentage, I was leaving at least three important factors out (there is a fourth factor, shot caliber, but there just simply isn’t enough data available prior to 2005-2006 to tackle this one). So, I went back and ranked each playoff series performance according to these three factors, and then created a weighted average of the three to arrive at the final performance metric. (Before I did this, I set the qualifying criterion at a minimum of 4 starts in a given series. That means that Steve Penney’s marvelous little 3-game run against Boston in 1984 is excluded from consideration.)

Here are the three factors, along with their respective weights:

1) Shot intensity (weight = 25%): Human fatigue plays a critical role during any 60-minute sporting event. A goalie that faces 18 shots and makes 17 saves gets credited with a save percentage of .944. A goalie that faces 38 shots and makes 36 saves get credited with roughly the same figure. But being able to maintain that save percentage over those 20 additional shots should count in that latter goalie’s favor. To put it in economic terms, the buildup of fatigue assigns an increasing marginal cost to each extra shot faced by the goalie, so—all else being equal—shots 34 through 38 should be tougher to stop than shots 7 through 11. Of course, there is the concept of the athlete who “gets stronger as the game wears on,” but I have to make the assumption that those athletes are special cases.

2) Opponent’s regular season goal differential (weight = 25%): On balance, the average shot coming off the blade of an elite sniper is more difficult to stop than the average shot coming off the blade of a 4th-line grinder. You can label that the God-given talent factor. Unfortunately, detailed shot-by-shot data doesn’t exist for most of the time period I covered. So, by way of proxy, I looked at the opposing team’s goals-above-league-average (expressed as a % of the league average) for that given NHL regular season. For example, in 2010, the Washington Capitals scored 318 regular season goals, while the NHL average was 233; so, their regular season goal differential (expressed as a percentage of the NHL average) would be 36%.

3) Series save percentage versus league average (weight = 50%): Call this my attempt to account for inflation. Improvements in goaltending equipment and goaltender technique, along with a series of other factors, have combined to push the average NHL save percentage up almost uninterruptedly since the league began tracking the metric officially back in the early 1980s. Put differently, posting a .910 save percentage back in 1984-1985 was quite a big deal, whereas it would have been fairly commonplace in 2009-2010. So, I calculated the delta between a given goalie’s series save percentage and the NHL average for the playoff year (the aggregated data comes courtesy of

And here’s how the re-crunched data comes out:

montreal canadiens playoff goalies

In the end, Jaroslav Halak’s 2009-2010 performance against Washington comes out as the single best playoff series performance by a Montreal Canadiens goalie since 1983-1984. It’s a pity that I can’t push this back into the Dryden era, but I do feel better about this analysis than I did about the first iteration. While my method might not be perfect (having no way to measure shot quality across the years is quite unfortunate), I think you will find it to be far more rigorous than my first go round.

Act 2: The Productivity of Quebec-born Players on the Montreal Canadiens

Consider this a sister post to the previous one, which documented the Quebec-born presence on the Montreal Canadiens since expansion. This post examines the productivity of Quebec-born skaters on the Montreal Canadiens since 1967.

An analysis of the data reveals a simple yet stunning conclusion: measured in terms of goals per man game, the productivity of Quebec-born skaters on the Canadiens has fallen precipitously since the late 1980s.

Montreal Canadiens Quebec-born Players: Productivity

In the 1970s, the average Quebec-born skater accounted for slightly less than 0.3 goals per regular season game played. That number held steady during the 1980s. Indeed, 1987-1988 represented a banner year for home grown talent, as Quebec-born skaters averaged 0.344 goals per man game in the regular season, the second highest level achieved since expansion. Stephane Richer potted 50, Claude Lemieux added 31, and Guy Carbonneau contributed a respectable 17.

But in the 1990s, the productivity of Quebec-born talent fell off drastically. To cite but one example, in 1998-1999 Quebec-born skaters scored only 0.121 goals per man game in the regular season–a productivity level that was 65% lower than in 1987-1988. Benoit Brunet led all Quebec-born skaters in that year of famine with only 14 goals.

As mentioned in the previous post, Andre Savard’s term in the early 2000s saw a rebound in the presence of Quebec-born talent on the Habs. Unfortunately, that talent was woefully unproductive. In 2002-2003, Quebec-born skaters eked out a measly 0.101 goals per man game–the lowest mark since expansion (and likely of all-time). If we remove the 24 goals netted by Yannic Perreault, the rest of the Quebec-born skaters on the team (there were 10 others) combined for only 38 goals in 541 man games. Compelling evidence that quantity is not a guarantee of quality.

In 2009-2010, Quebec-born skaters accounted for 0.124 goals per man game, right in line with the decade average of 0.126. Here’s hoping that Mathieu Darche, Maxim Lapierre, and perhaps David Desharnais can push that number up this season, but I’m not holding my breath.

Quebec-Born Players on the Montreal Canadiens

The dearth of Quebec-born talent on the Montreal Canadiens has been a ongoing source of deep anxiety among certain segments of the Montreal media. Though deeper cultural anxieties heavily influence this general discourse, three empirical points add a certain justifiability to the chronic anxiety:

1) The Quebec-born presence on the Montreal Canadiens plunged dramatically in the first decade of this century. In terms of regular season man games, the Quebec-born presence on the team fell from 44% in 2002-2003 to 14% in 2009-2010.

2) League-wide, the Quebec-born presence has been declining steadily since expansion. In 1968-69, 21% of all regular season man games were played by Quebec-born players. By contrast, in 2009-2010, Quebec-born players only accounted for 7% of all regular season man games.

3) As documented recently by HabsWatch, the percentage of Quebec-born players drafted out of the QMJHL has been stagnant over the past two decades.

Add those three facts up, and it certainly paints a troubling picture for those who pine for a more ethnically homogeneous version of the Habs.

But looking at the historical trend line, we see that the Quebec-born presence on the Habs has oscillated wildly since expansion. Over the past 43 years, there have been periodics of dramatic increase and periods of dramatic decline in the Quebec-born presence on the Habs–this despite the steady NHL-wide declivity in Quebec-born representation. The fact that the Habs’ trend line bears very little resemblance to the league trend line suggests that managerial factors have played a significant role in determining how much Quebec-born talent suits up for Montreal Canadiens games.

Quebec-Born Presence

In 1977-78, the final year of Sam Pollock’s term as general manager of the Montreal Canadiens, the Quebec-born presence on the team stood at 56%. The Quebec-born presence underwent a precipitous plunge during the Grundman and early Savard years, dropping to a low point of 24% in the Cup loss season of 1988-89. A rebound occurred in the later Savard years, with the Quebec-born contingent accounting for 51% of regular season man games in the 1992-93 Cup season. That share was slashed in half by the end of the 1990s, but under Andre Savard’s mandate it rose back up to a high of 44%. As mentioned above, it has been in free fall ever since.

So, the question is: given the systemic forces that have been acting since expansion to reduce the presence of Quebec-born talent in the NHL, how does a Montreal Canadiens general manager assemble a critical mass of such players on his team? (Leaving aside for the moment the more thorny question of whether he ought to assemble such a critical mass).

Let’s look at 3 examples, each of which represents a peak in the presence of Quebec-born talent on the team for a given era.

As mentioned earlier, the 1977-78 team had a Quebec-born contingent that accounted for 56% of regular season man games. Sam Pollock built this contingent using two methods: 1) pre-draft exclusive rights negotiation lists and C Forms, which netted him Hall of Famers like Jacques Lemaire, Yvan Cournoyer, and Serge Savard; 2) the NHL Amateur Draft, which netted him players like Guy Lafleur, Mario Tremblay, and Pierre Mondou.

From a man games perspective, Quebec-born talent constituted just over half of the hallowed 1992-93 Cup team. Serge Savard assembled this group largely through the draft. Two-thirds of the Quebec-born talent on that team came via the draft, including Patrick Roy, Guy Carbonneau, Eric Desjardins, and Stephan Lebeau. Supplementing the drafted core were three Quebec-born players acquired via trade: Denis Savard, J.J. Daigneault, and Vincent Damphousse.

Finally, there was a renaissance in the Quebec-born presence on the Habs in the early 2000s. Unlike the 1978 and 1993 contingents, trades and free agency brought in close to three-quarters of the Quebec-born talent on this team, including
players like Donald Audette, Joe Juneau, Stephane Quintal, and Yanic Perreault. In this case, the term talent is used in the generic, and not descriptive, sense.

At various times in past 43 years, managerial intervention has ensured a healthy Quebec-born presence on the Montreal Canadiens, despite overarching trends causing a diminishment in the share of Quebec-born talent league-wide. But the tactics have certainly changed over time. Entering the second decade of the 21st century, would it even be possible for the Habs to get back to a 30%-40% Quebec-born presence solely via bullet-proof drafting? Or would an activist management have to bring in sub-par Quebec-born players via free agency or trade? And if they did go that route, would certain segments of the media accept a performance trade off? After all, there aren’t many fond memories from 2002-2003 left in my mind.

Note: A sizable chunk of the data included in this analysis comes thanks to the great team at

When does 24 wins make a great NHL season?

The answer: when we’re talking about the 2009-2010 Montreal Canadiens.

Last season’s Habs team won only 24 games in regulation. 8 more wins came in overtime, with another 7 coming in shoot-outs. The 24 regulation wins represents a regulation winning percentage of 29%. Put differently, if you were watching a Montreal Canadiens regular season game, you had less than a 30% chance of seeing the Habs seal up the victory within 60 minutes.

Of the 88 points accumulated by the Canadiens in regular season last year, only 48 were earned in regulation. That’s only 55%. Close to 1 in 2 points earned by the 2009-2010 Canadiens were earned after the 60-minute siren sounded.

Even more interesting is the fact that the 29% regular season regulation winning percentage marks the lowest mark for any Montreal Canadiens team since the NHL introduced regular season overtime in the 1983-1984 season. Yes, that’s right: last year’s Montreal Canadiens team had a lower propensity of winning a game in regulation than the miserable 2000-2001 outfit.

Habs Regulation Winning Percentage

Much like 1983-1984, the 2009-2010 season will be remembered for a gloriously unlikely playoff run. That playoff run certainly deodorized a regular season where regulation victories were painfully hard to come by.

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 and the Hockey Summary Project.