There was some good news after the ugly 1-5 loss in Anaheim. On Saturday, Tom Gulitti reported at Fire & Ice that Cory Schneider was day-to-day, as stated by Lou. I was very concerned about his status since he got hurt during the first period against the Ducks and left the game entirely after that period. In a 2014-15 season where a lot has gone wrong, Schneider and Keith Kinkaid have both been a part of what's gone very well for the Devils. Losing either - especially Schneider - to injury would just damage an already lost campaign even further.
As I was thinking about Schneider on this rare Devils-game-free weekend during the regular season, I decided to take a closer look at how Schneider and Kinkaid have been performing this season. War on Ice, which has emerged as one of the NHL statistics sites this season, has a separate section for goaltender stats. Included are splits for save percentage by shot location at various strengths. War on Ice pulls the shot location data, sorts it into three zones (low, medium, and high), and they tally a goaltender's save percentage based on those areas. It's not exactly shot quality as it is shot location. And anything involving the shot location data from official scorers should be treated with a grain of sand. Regardless, it can provide a closer look at how the Devils' #1 and #2 goaltenders have done so far this season. And so let's do that with the most common situation in hockey: 5-on-5 even strength.
Prior to Saturday's games, 62 goalies played at least 240 minutes of 5-on-5 hockey this season. This includes Kinkaid and Schneider and excludes Scott Clemmensen. It also excludes several other goalies who've only filled in for a few games or have yet to play a significant amount to be considered for comparison. In terms of overall even strength save percentage, Schneider is ranked twelfth at 93.16%. He's in the top ten if we were to strictly consider starters and 1A/1B goalie tandems. But we're not, so we'll move on. Kinkaid got a lot of work by Anaheim, but the goals against dropped him to 36th at 91.89%. That's still just above the average of 91.84% among this group of 62.
Let's now go deeper into the location-based save percentages. First is save percentage low, or Sv% Low. The low stands for low percentage shots. Shots on goal from the left or right points, outside of either dot, and behind the net are counted for this category. As you may expect, save percentages across these 62 goalies are very high. The average is 97.01% and over half of the group is above that average. Schneider and Kinkaid are among them with 97.28% and 97.26%, respectively. You may recall that some of Schneider's worst moments this season have come with giving up a number of bad goals from these areas. Schneider has given up 12, which is on the higher end but he's not leading this group of 62. It's worth noting that he's second only to Pekka Rinne in terms of the number of low-percentage shots he's faced and that's also a function of how much Schneider has played. Soft goals or not, Schneider's percentage isn't all that bad.
Schneider is among the best in the league when it comes to save percentage on medium-percentage shots, or Sv% Medium. These are shots from the center point and around the slot - but not actually in the slot or in front of the crease. Except for the point, these are all shots that would be considered scoring chances. So this is where the good goalies can separate themselves from the not as good ones. The save percentage average among this group of 62 for these shots is 90.13%. Schneider's 93.99% save percentage on these shots ranks him eighth among the 62. Again, he'd be higher up if we were only to consider starters. It's still very good and speaks to how well Schneider has played in net. Kinkaid, on the other hand, hasn't been so good. His save percentage on these shots is only 86.36%, which is on the lower end. However, I'd take that with a grain of salt as Kinkaid has only appeared in nine games. A bad performance by the team (like on Friday) or a bad night will do a lot more damage because of the lack of games played.
For the same reason, I wouldn't get too hyped for Kinkaid because of his superior save percentage for high-percentage shots, or Sv% High. These shots are coming from the slot and in front of the crease. Right in front, the same place where fans demand the defensemen to "clear it out" and coaches command their skaters to guard that area among all others. Kinkaid's save percentage for these shots is currently 87.10%, right in between Roberto Luongo and Martin Jones. Again, he's only played nine games. But I think this higher percentage may speak to why some fans regard Kinkaid very highly early on. That and he's young (?) at 26. Schneider is at 82.54%. Not as impressive, but he's still ahead of the group average of 82.42%. With more games, I would expect Kinkaid to come down in this category, closer to where Schneider is at right now.
Among all three types of shots based on location, the high-percentage ones intrigued me the most. Again, these are the shots right in the slot and right around or at the crease. How do the Devils stack up with the rest of the league in terms of how many of these shots they allow and how many get stopped. After pulling the even strength data from War on Ice for all goalies who've played in the NHL this season (76), the Devils at the league median for team save percentage on these kinds of shots.
|Rank||Team||GA High||SA High||Tm Sv% High|
The Devils are also around the league median for high-percentage shots allowed and high-percentage goals allowed. This speaks somewhat well of a defense that has had to go ten-men deep due to injuries (Mark Fraser) as well as a defense featuring multiple young players. They're not getting regularly beaten down low like, for example, Buffalo. The goalies are getting stops unlike, for examples, Minnesota (Devan Dubnyk may help in this regard, he's at 88.24% on these sorts of shots) or Boston.
I'm sure more accurate shot location data would yield changes in results. Overall, it confirms what we know about Schneider and Kinkaid this season. They've been doing well in their positions. It's comforting that one of the positive things I expected for this season actually turned out to happen. (The other two did not, obviously.) The good news goes beyond this season. Schneider will be a Devil for a while and it appears to me that Kinkaid should be safe as the #2 option for at least the near future. While Schneider's percentages will have some variation and Kinkaid is still a question mark, if management puts a solid team in front of the goaltender, then the Devils may be able to do something like play beyond early April. It's one more thing to keep an eye on for this season.