Every Tuesday, we look at one aspect of hockey betting and how to understand it with the hopes of becoming smarter and more profitable bettors. Like the other major sports, hockey betting has a lot of similarities and often provides the same type of wagers. However, there are a few differences that are worth pointing out and worth noting.
Goaltenders: Part Two
Goaltenders are crucial to evaluate prior to making a wager in the NHL as they are directly impactful to a team’s success and goal prevention. Oftentimes, bettors will look at a goaltender’s stat line with the assumption that it correlates to their success. While there is some truth, there is a lot to consider as even what can be considered reliable statistics can occasionally be misleading.
Take Save Percentage and Goals-Against Average, two of the more reliably stats as they measure how often a goaltender makes a save and how often they allow a goal.
However, both stats are misleading when you look at them and take them for face value. This is mostly because of the fact that both stats are only good in volume. Looking at two goaltenders, both of whom finished as finalists for the Vezina Trophy, we can see how volume plays just as much if not more of an important role in evaluating both save percentage and goals-against average.
|Goaltender One||.925 save percentage||2.21 goals-against average||1,237 shots faced|
|Goaltender Two||.928 save percentage||1.98 goals-against average||989 shots faced|
Looking at the save percentage and the goals-against average alone, you would assume that the second goaltender is better and you wouldn’t be alone. In fact, Goaltender Two won the Vezina Trophy in Marc-Andre Fleury of the Vegas Golden Knights beating out Goaltender Two in Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The problem is that Vasilevskiy was, and still is the better goaltender and while the stats don’t look as good, he faced more volume and more shots. Ultimately, Vasilevskiy got the last laugh as he led the Lightning to their second consecutive Stanley Cup Championship and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs.
Simply put, any goaltender can start one game and put together a 20 save shutout but if you evaluate them on that one performance, that would be folly. This is why whenever I look at a goaltender’s stat line, I always look for how many shots they face to help put their numbers into context.
What This Means For Bettors?
Evaluating goaltenders in any game is a necessity before placing a bet on a game. The goaltender matchup can not only influence the line but allow you to anticipate the type of game that is coming. However, it is important to keep all the stats in mind and the context of them before placing a bet, most notably, which goaltenders are facing the most shots.
You can find most of the useful basic hockey stats on hockeyreference.com which will allow for a better understanding of the starting goaltender.