San Jose Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov is on pace for 71 starts this season, a workload that will be the highest in his career with the exception of the 77 he saw in 07-08 under Ron Wilson. Thomas Greiss was his backup goaltender that season as well, at least before Doug Wilson signed Brian Boucher from the Philadelphia Phantoms.
Everyone knows I think he's been getting too many starts between the pipes. My concerns are well chronicled, and frankly, have probably become akin to beating a dead horse.
So, instead of lengthy paragraphs rehashing the same arguments, here are some items of note I compiled. If you'll notice, this post isn't labelled under the section "Statistical Analysis." This is because I'm not convinced any of these are compelling proof that McLellan's decision to ride him is bound for failure, nor am I convinced that any of these are proof that the decision will not affect Nabokov in the long run. I think a qualitative approach is best here considering the complexity of analyzing the notoriously difficult to gauge goaltending position, Nabokov's age, and the fact that he will be starting for the 2010 Russian Olympic team.
After the jump are the bullet points; I highly encourage all readers to submit their own in the comments section. If you are interested in advanced statistical analysis of goaltenders, this article is not your number one source; Brodeur Is A Fraud brings the goods.
- The last goaltender to win a Stanley Cup with over 70 starts is Martin Brodeur, who did so in 2003 with the New Jersey Devils. He had 73 to his name.
- Since the lockout, the average number of games started for Stanley Cup winning goaltenders is 44.75 games. Cam Ward had 25, JS Giguere had 53, Chris Osgood had 40, and Marc-Andre Fleury had 61.
- Since the lockout, there have been sixteen cases of goaltenders making 65+ starts and their team getting into the playoffs. In other words, 25% of playoff teams have goalies making 65+ starts.
- In those sixteen cases, the goaltenders have compiled a .911 SV% before the ASG/Olympic break, and a .916 SV% afterwards.
- Since the lockout, all goaltenders that made the playoffs and had 65+ starts averaged a .913 SV% in the regular season and a .912 SV% in the postseason.
- Since the lockout, Cam Ward went the farthest in the postseason with 65+ starts, doing so last year when he led the Carolina Hurricanes the Eastern Conference Finals. They were swept by the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins.
- Evgeni Nabokov's best playoff run was during 2004, where he posted a .935 SV% and led the team to the Western Conference Finals. He started 58 games that year.
- Nabokov's second best playoff run was during 2007, where he posted a .920 SV%. He started 49 games that year.
- During the rest of Nabokov's playoff runs, he has yet to eclipse a .908 SV%.
- When Nabokov started 77 games in 07-08, he had a .910 SV% in the regular season and a .907 SV% in the postseason.