Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Does Olie Kolzig Need To See More Rubber?

An interesting post over at On The Forecheck (I know, that's redundant) tracks the save percentages of a handful of goalies over the last two full seasons with respect to how many shots per game they're facing.

As I have noted, the Caps are giving up far fewer shots per game this year (5.6 fewer this year than last) and Olie Kolzig's save percentage has plummeted from .910 to .885. Could the latter have been predicted (to some extent) given the former? The following chart might suggest so:

The pattern is clear that, in general, the more rubber Olie saw in 2005-06 and 2006-07, the better his save percentage. But what about this season? Keeping in mind his 17-17-4 record, 3.10 goals against average and .885 save percentage (and the giant caveat that not all shots against are created equal - any goalie would rather face ten unscreened shots from outside than five through heavy traffic in the slot), let's take a look.

Ten times, Kolzig has faced thirty or more shots against, and in those games he has a 5-3-2 record with a 2.56 GAA and .922 save percentage - obviously way better, across the board, than his numbers on the season. Take out two overtime games in which he saw less than thirty shots per sixty minutes and his record goes to 5-3-0 with a 2.50 GAA and .926 save percentage. These numbers don't include the pair of games in which he didn't hang around long enough to face the thirty-plus shots he was on pace to see, but it's still somewhat striking - even if you include those two shellackings, his save percentage in games in which he saw more than thirty shots on goal per sixty minutes is .907.

At the other end of the spectrum, there have been three "rocking chair" games in which Olie has seen fewer than twenty shots per sixty minutes. His numbers in those? Three wins, two losses, one OTL, a 3.28 GAA and a .811 save percentage.

Of course, the vast majority of games this season have seen the Caps give up between twenty and thirty shots per sixty minutes, and Kolzig's numbers in these games, not suprisingly, fall somewhere in between the two extremes above - 10-12-4, 3.04, .880 . Even less surprisingly now, Olie's numbers are better in games in which he has faced more than 25 shots per sixty minutes (but less than thirty) than in those in which he has faced between twenty and 25 shots per sixty. In the former range, Kolzig has a 2.76 GAA and .900 save percentage, while in the latter he has a 3.39 GAA and a .850 save percentage.

Recapping, then, here are Olie Kolzig's stats on the season, broken down by shots faced per sixty minutes in individual games:
  • > 30 shots against/60: 5-4-0, 3.18, .907
  • 25.1 - 30 shots against/60: 4-7-3, 2.76, .900
  • 20 - 25 shots against/60: 6-5-1, 3.39, .850
  • < 20 shots against/60: 2-1-0, 3.28, .811
So what does it all mean? That's the $5.45 million question. Kolzig has his worst record in games in the grouping of games above in which he has his best GAA. He has his best record in the group in which he has his worst save percentage. But overall it's pretty clear that Olie Kolzig performs his best when he's facing more than 25 shots per game... which should be great... since the team is allowing 26.3 shots per sixty minutes under Bruce Boudreau.


Anonymous said...

I know that some goalies need to see a lot of rubber, but I don't think that has been Olie's problem this year.

JP said...

Frankly I don't either, but thought the numbers interesting.

And maybe it explains everything - Olie knows he does better when facing more shots, so rather than clearing pucks to the corners or holding on to them, he kicks easy stops into the slot in an effort to boost his shots against. :)