“Bettman has only a marginal interest in the weaker teams. He only wants the NHL to make a bigger profit as a whole.” -- Dominik Hasek

March 26, 2007

Olie The Goalie: Still Great?

It's not easy being Olaf Kolzig. While he does play behind young scoring aces Alexander Ovechkin and Alexander Semin, his team has no defense to speak of. Opposing teams literally pepper him with shots each and every game, and yet he somehow manages to maintain his composure and put up decent numbers, considering. Not convinced? Let's do some math.

Kolzig currently boasts a .910 save percentage with a 3.03 goals against average in 50 games played. His save percentage is good, but his GAA is fairly bad.

Comparing Kolzig's basic goaltending stats to others in the league is a bit misleading, though, especially since Kolzig has only won 21 games in 50 played. That's really low. What isn't on most stats lists, however, is the most telling of all numbers for goalies: Average shots faced per game. Kolzig faces an average of 33 shots per game! The top goalies, like Brodeur, Luongo and Kiprusoff, face no more than 29 on average. And they actually have decent defensemen blocking and checking the puck in front of them, so Kolzig is already at a disadvantage in that regard.

A more accurate picture, however, can be drawn by comparing Kolzig to other goalies who have played a similar number of games. Brodeur and Luongo have played 70 games or more, so instead we must look at guys like Jean-Sebastien Giguere (53 GP), Ray Emery (53 GP), Peter Budaj (52 GP) and Fredrick Norrena (49 GP). Of those four, only Emery faces 29 shots per game on average, while the other three face 26. That's 7 shots fewer on average than Kolzig, whose save percentage is still higher than those of Budaj and Norrena. Further, Kolzig has made around 300 more saves than both of those guys in about the same number of games!

Simply put, Olaf Kolzig is still one of the very best goaltenders in the NHL, and if not for his team's complete lack of defense, he would actually enjoy the success he deserves.

No offense to Peter Budaj, who's really come into his own in recent games, but how much damage could the Avalanche do next year with Kolzig in net? Too bad that won't happen.

1 comment:

Shane Giroux said...

I'm so glad you wrote a post on Olaf Kolzig. I've said for a long time that he's an underrated goaltender due to the team he's on.

I think he's a great goaltender and I would love to see him play for the Avalanche. It won't happen of course but one can hope :)

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