Last summer, one of the more arduous and rewarding tasks I undertook was reviewing every single goal Martin Brodeur allowed in the 2010-11 season. I looked for what was soft, what wasn't soft, and noted a general location on where Brodeur was beaten. While it was not the most definitive study one could do, the casual qualitative analysis did at least make me more sympathetic to goaltenders everywhere. In the heat of the moment or reflecting on a bad game, it's easy to say that the goalie made a stupid mistake that caused the other team to score. However, reality (and/or a video of the goal) suggests otherwise. Only 20.77% of the 168 goals Brodeur allowed in the 2009-10 season and 2010 playoffs could be described as soft - meaning the majority wasn't his fault.
I decided to perform a similar analysis, starting with Johan Hedberg. Due to Brodeur's injuries in 2010-11, Hedberg did play a significant portion of the season. He didn't do too bad, either. The Moose posted up a 91.2% save percentage in 2010-11 - better than Brodeur. However, he seemed to struggle for about three months of the six he appeared in last season - usually along with the rest of the team. Even if he didn't, the following questions can certainly apply to Moose as they did for Marty last season: What can we learn from reviewing the 68 goals he allowed in 2010-11? How many were soft? Where was he beaten? How often did the goal against come with some obvious error by one of the skaters in front of him?
I've held off on this post until it was closer to free agency. Hedberg is an unrestricted free agent and the New Jersey Devils need a back up goalie. Perhaps this will give some insight into whether it would be worth re-signing Hedberg? Given this post by Tom Gulitti at Fire & Ice on Tuesday, it's certainly appropriate to bring it up now since it's quite possible that he could be re-signed by the Devils. So let's get to it. After the jump, you'll find links to each monthly post on the goals Hedberg allowed; and charts and graphs summarizing the results in those posts.
The Previous Posts in This Series
The following list consists of posts with links to each of the goals allowed by Johan Hedberg in this last season for the New Jersey Devils, hosted and provided by NHL.com. If there's one in particular you would like to see, or if you want to go through them all yourself, then you are able to do so. The explanation of my approach are in these posts (e.g. what is a "soft" goal, what is a "skater error"), as well as details for the goals allowed in that particular month. They are presented in this list in chronological order of the season (note: minutes played comes from Yahoo! Sports)
- October 2010: 6 goals allowed in 2 games (48 minutes)
- November 2010: 15 goals allowed in 8 games (425 minutes)
- December 2010: 13 goals allowed in 6 games (232 minutes)
- January 2011: 12 goals allowed in 5 games (245 minutes)
- February 2011: 14 goals allowed in 10 games (588 minutes)
- April 2011: 8 goals allowed in 3 games (180 minutes)
The Relative Location of All 68 Goals Allowed by Johan Hedberg
In this casual qualitative analysis, I took note of where the puck beat Hedberg relative to his own positioning. How often did a shot get past his left compared to his right? Did it go through his legs? How often did the Moose get beaten by high one that went over his shoulder, a low one that slid on the ice, or a middle-of-the-road height that got over his pad but was within the range of one of his arms? I'll admit it is not the most precise way of doing this, but it serves to give a general idea of counting where pucks got past Hedberg.
I will also admit that 68 goals allowed is not a very large population size. That said, the most common means of beating Johan Hedberg was through the legs. At least one beat him there every month and it added up the highest individual total. Interestingly, when I did this for Martin Brodeur last season, this was the most common location to be beaten by as well. Maybe that will be found again when I look at Brodeur's goals allowed this season?
Those shots that got past Hedberg were often low - either right on the ice or just a few inches off of it. 55.88% of all of these goals against came at this height. Similar to those "low middle" goals against, Hedberg got beaten on his right side more often than his left - and there was at least one such instance per month. This may be happenstance, or perhaps consistent with the notion that goaltenders are beaten low more often than high. After all, the butterfly technique for goaltenders was brought back into the league in the mid-1980s as a means to cut down on goalies being beaten by lower shots. Patrick Roy showed it could work incredibly well, and so it took off - but I'm going off on a tangent, so let's get back to the Moose.
Interestingly, Hedberg also got beaten high and to his left moreso than any shot above a low height. This is where a month-by-month breakdown shows it's use. He was mainly beaten there in November and February, a total of 9 times in those two months alone. Incidentally, those two months were his statistically best months last season; I don't think he forgot how to use his glove hand or just got slow with it. It could be just coincidence. Just like it could be coincidence that he got beaten stick side on low shots a few more times than on his glove side.
There, I wouldn't take this to mean that Hedberg was particularly susceptible to shots of low height or in his five-hole. A shot that gets deflected or re-directed would count as much here as it would for a shot that was just misplayed by Hedberg (a "soft" goal, as it were). A shot that gets put in on his flank counts here, but definitely wouldn't be the goaltender's fault. To get more perspective on that, we must move on to looking at "soft goals."
The Goals Allowed by Johan Hedberg in 2010-11: 68 Goals in 82 Games
In each monthly post, I reviewed each goal allowed by Hedberg and made a judgment on whether it was a "soft" goal or not. I have defined a soft goal as the following: The goalie must have seen the shot coming; the shot was not deflected or change otherwise in motion; the goalie was in position to actually make the stop; and the goaltender made an uncharacteristic mistake that led to the goal. If all were true, then I deemed the goal as "soft." I've summarized each month's count in the following chart to determine not only how many soft goals did Hedberg allow all season, but whether or not there was a trend of sorts.
18 soft goals doesn't seem like a lot, now does it? Especially since it's not even a third of the total amount of goals allowed by Hedberg. It may be notable that each month has at least 2 soft goals allowed, but perhaps it really shouldn't be? Goaltenders make mistakes like any other human who has played the game and to expect perfection is generally impossible. Sure, it would have been great if Hedberg stopped those 18 shots. Yet, they were not as representative of all goals allowed.
This also highlights how bad October was for Hedberg compared to other months. December and January weren't so hot either, which may explain why he saw less action in those months; but October truly sticks out like a sore thumb. Giving up 3 softies out of 6 will do that. Putting these numbers in a graph really hammers that point home.
Graphically, it's clear that Hedberg's soft goals were far less of an issue in November and February compared to other months. Hence, the larger gaps between the "non-soft goals" and "soft goals" lines. In just focusing on the "soft goals" line, there didn't seem to be any big jumps or gaps; though that's largely due to the low quantity per month of soft goals. Such as it is for a backup goaltender. Still, October pretty much lags behind every other month and this graph really hammers that point home. This is especially apparent when taking these totals and converting them to a goals against average.
The formula for GAA is that you take the number of goals allowed, multiply it by 60 minutes (the length of a game) and divide it by the number of minutes played. October truly stands out for being awful since Hedberg didn't even play 60 minutes in his two appearances. He came in relief for one, and got yanked in his first start. With so many goals allowed in only 48 minutes, the GAA is going to skyrocket. Since then, everything looked a lot better and Hedberg's soft goals against average dropped to a little more than once every two games. I would consider October to be an outlier in the bigger picture.
As with the counts, there is a noticeable bump in December and January; and everything really looked better since.
Without knowing the league average proportion of soft goals to total goals, I can't truly say whether Hedberg had a good 2010-11 with respect to this qualitative definition. On it's own, I don't think it's so bad. The vast majority of the goals allowed by Hedberg were not soft. While his two appearances in October were nightmarish, Hedberg clearly demonstrated that he wasn't a sieve by any means in subsequent months. He's had some bad games, some errors in some games that ultimately went good, and that ultimately ends up with 18 softies out of 68. Whether or not he can keep this up for another season is something I can't be prepared to answer; but I do think this helps supports the notion that the Moose still has plenty left in the proverbial tank.
This also furthers the idea that goaltenders shouldn't always be blamed for a goal against the team as most of the time, they didn't make the crucial error.
Skater Errors Among the 68 Goals Allowed
While reviewing the goals allowed by Johan Hedberg, I made a point of it to record any skaters - forwards or defenseman - on the New Jersey Devils who made an egregious error. I figured that if I'm already reviewing video and making judgments on whether or not a goal allowed was the goaltender's fault, I can point out who on the Devils made a critical error that directly led to said goal. I've done this to answer two questions. First, how often does a skater error occur on a goal against? This chart, where SE stands for "skater error," provides the answer:
I found a big mistake by a player on 45.59% of the goals allowed by Hedberg this season. That's pretty significant compared to the number of soft ones. There can definitely be a skater error on a soft goal, I deemed 5 of these 31 to be Hedberg's error. Therefore, 26 non-soft goals involved some other Devils doing something wrong (or not doing something right in some cases) that led to a goal against. I think that's pretty big that it's more than the number of soft goals allowed by Hedberg. It's further evidence that the play or lack there of by the guys in front of the goaltender screws up the team more often than the goalie blowing it.
Just to take it a step further, what about other 24 non-soft goals without an identified skater who made a big error? Well, some were just flukes like a fortunate deflection or a shot that finds it's way through multiple bodies somehow. There's not much that can be done about that in the bigger picture, in my opinion. Though, I think most of these remaining 26 provide support for the idea that some goals against are just the result of good plays by the opposition. A defense and goaltender can do all they want, but a well placed shot or an inch-perfect play just wins out.
Going back to this chart, what I find interesting is how at least a third of the goals allowed by Hedberg in each month had at least one skater making an error during the play that led to the goal against, and that it rose in three month increments. I can guess as to why that happened from October through December: the Devils were playing really badly and it was getting worse and worse under John MacLean. Why did similar proportions happen again in the following three months? I'm not sure, really. Hedberg did play more in those three latter months, but the team as a whole was playing far better under Jacques Lemaire than MacLean. I can't rule out the possibility of coincidence, since the population of both errors and goals allowed aren't very high to begin with.
The second question of counting skater errors is pretty obvious: Who screwed up the most?
Most skater errors were singular: one player messed up on a play that led to a goal. Some goals allowed, however, required multiple proverbial fingers to be pointed at players. Hence, the split in "single errors" and "multi errors." All the same, 37 total instances on the 31 goals with an error occurred with Hedberg in net. Andy Greene leads the group, which really doesn't surprise me since he did lead the team in ice time last season. Generally, if you're leading in minutes, you're doing a lot of things right - but you're also more prone for an error burning you en route to a goal against. I wouldn't necessarily use this as evidence to not re-sign Greene or anything like that. It's really for reference if nothing else at this point. (How the count looks with the errors in front of Brodeur will be more useful.)
I wouldn't necessarily harangue any of the players on this list, really. Ilya Kovalchuk and ex-Devil Jamie Langenbrunner lead among forwards, but how they got there is different. Kovalchuk played a lot more and longer in NJ, so his errors were spread out. Langenbrunner is more deserving of criticism in that his errors were more concentrated. In fact, he's the only Devil to have made 3 errors in any month this season (December, his last with the team) when Hedberg was in net. Given that Hedberg only played in 6 games in December, that's, well, something.
Defensemen do tend to be higher up on the list than forwards, which should make sense. Defenders are primarily concerned on what goes on in their end of the rink and if they make a mistake in coverage or get burnt on a play, it's likely going to spell doom for the goaltender moreso if the winger gets beat high in the zone. It varies on situation, of course; but that would explain why Anton Volchenkov, Henrik Tallinder, Anssi Salmela, and Mark Fraser are above most of the rest. As a brief aside, Colin White managed to only get caught making a mistake on a goal allowed when someone else also made a mistake - twice, in fact. I just found that interesting.
What I also find interesting about this list is who is not here. Travis Zajac, David Clarkson, and Brian Rolston are three players who stick out for not having made a critical error that cost the team and Hedberg's stat line. Most impressively is that Mark Fayne, he who has taken on significant minutes as rookie, did not appear here. I don't think these players will be so clean when I look at Brodeur's goals allowed, but kudos to those who played in front of Hedberg and did not appear on this list.
I'd like to thank you all for reading all of the posts in this series and this significantly long summary. Rather than repeat the same points over and over, I'll just reiterate the two major points. One, Johan Hedberg did not make a major mistake for the majority of goals allowed this season. It's not an insignificant proportion, but it's not as large as we may think it would be. Yes, Hedberg should stay in his net instead of letting up another heinous goal that way - but that's relatively rare compared to most of the shots that does beat him. This leads into the second major point, once again, the goaltender should not be immediately blamed for a goal against. I've learned that more goals against can be attributed to a mistake by a skater in front of Hedberg instead of Hedberg doing something wrong.
Basically, there's nothing in this review of all 68 goals that says that Hedberg shouldn't be kept. Yes, he's old and there's always the possibility that he could just have worse luck in 2010-11. Yet, he shown last season at age 37 that he's not going to seriously hurt the team in a game - and this review backs that up. Like any goaltender at any age and any level, he'll have his bad nights, but it'll be balanced out with good performances over time.
This all said: what's your opinion about Johan Hedberg in this casual qualitative analysis? What did you learn from this review and summary? What do you conclude from these summaries? Do you agree or disagree with my own conclusions? Does this make you want Hedberg to be re-signed more or less after reading all of this? Please let me know all of your thoughts and feelings about Hedberg's play last season as well as this summary in the comments. (P.S. Martin Brodeur's goals allowed will be reviewed later in the summer.)