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Reviewing the Goals Against Scott Clemmensen in 2014 for New Jersey

It is the offseason for the New Jersey Devils and so it is time to review the goals against the team, goaltender by goaltender. It begins with Scott Clemmensen's short time in New Jersey and the eight goals he allowed in three appearances.

Scott Clemmensen made a save in this picture.  This picture is from his final appearance as a New Jersey Devil in this season.
Scott Clemmensen made a save in this picture. This picture is from his final appearance as a New Jersey Devil in this season.
Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

As is tradition at In Lou We Trust, I spend a part of the offseason reviewing all of the goals against the New Jersey Devils.  During the season, pretty much every goal against draws a negative reaction. As it should.  It hurts the team's cause.  It's not fun to see the other team literally get one past the Devils.  And the quick reaction is to look for someone to blame. The goaltender. The defense. The coach.  The divine.  Whoever.  With the 2014-15 regular season now in the past, it's the ideal time to take another look at what went wrong.  To determine whether the goalie should have prevented that goal or whether the skaters made a mistake that led to the goal.  To do that, we must review the goal against itself.

I am doing things a little bit differently for this year. For starters, I'm going to keep the location data "behind the scenes" and provide the full results when a season is completed. If it's worth noting that a goalie got beaten, say, five-hole throughout a month, then I'll note it.  But I'm not going to provide it month-by-month.  Also, I am recording the shot type, shot location (circles are relative to location), and whether the goal came from a pass across the middle. The latter is known as crossing the "royal road," to use Steve Valiquette's term.  It's something Ryan and his crew of pass-trackers have been noting, only I'll be doing it for all situations regardless of goal.  I will also note something I put in commentary but will actually count this year: flukes.  Those shots that take a crazy bounce or get put in unintentionally would fall into that category.  I'll explain each one that I see.

That said, the standard from past month still applies.  I'm primarily looking for what I call "soft" goals against, those goals against the goalie should be stopping. Those are shots that the goalie sees, are not deflected or re-directed, and come in situations where the goalie has a fair chance to make a play on it.  So most rebounds, deflections, and shots off screens would not get that designation.  Breakaways will be judged on a case-by-case basis: getting beaten while doing nothing, soft; making a move and getting beat, not necessarily so.   In addition, I am still logging what I've done in the past: how the goalie got beat, where the shot came in relative to the goalie's location, the situation of the game, whether the shot was a scoring chance, and which Devils skater made an egregious error (e.g. a giveaway, clearly not picking up a man in coverage).   Lastly, I will continue to link all of the videos I use to review the goal against - which are all from NHL.com.  This way if you disagree or if you just want to see what I'm writing about, then you can easily view the goal against too.  This is In Lou We Trust after all, not a safe space or an echo chamber.

In order to showcase this form, I am starting with Scott Clemmensen's time with the New Jersey Devils.  He was signed last summer essentially as insurance in case Keith Kinkaid didn't end up earning the backup goaltender position in New Jersey.  Clemmensen would get the first game of the 2014-15 season that Cory Schneider didn't start, which took twenty games in a row.  He also filled in for Schneider in two blow-out losses.  That 4-5 shootout loss in Calgary would be Clemmensen's only start in New Jersey and his last on-ice appearance in the 2014-15 season.  Kinkaid was called up, did well enough to stay in New Jersey, and so Clemmensen settled for being the better goaltender in Albany for the rest of the season.  Let's review his eight goals allowed and reflect on what we can learn from them.

The 8 Goals Against Scott Clemmensen in 2014-15

Date GA# Where Beaten? GA Description Soft? Video Errors SC? Sit.
10/16 1 Between left arm and body Burakovsky rips one from outside the dot shortside. Yes Link -- No PP
10/28 2 Past right arm Downie from corner feeds open Dupuis right of slot. Shortside goal. No Link Gionta Yes PP
10/28 3 Between right arm and body Downie gets rebound to Clemmensen's right, pots it in before the dive. No Link -- No PP
10/28 4 Past right arm Merrill pass is picked off by Crosby. Crosby skates in and blasts one in. Yes Link Merrill No ES
11/22 5 Above the left shoulder Glencross steals the puck, throws it up, off the crossbar and in. Yes Link Zajac No ES
11/22 6 Past right pad Jooris poked in a rebound in front. No Link -- Yes PP
11/22 7 On the right flank Hudler's rebound attempted went off Clemmensen, off Greene's leg, into net. No Link -- No 56
11/22 8 Above the right pad Clemmensen stops Gaudreau's shot, Glencross lifts rebound No Link Jagr Yes 56

Commentary

While Clemmensen only received one start and two fill-in appearances, it's not like he made a great case to get more minutes.  In total, I counted three out of Clemmensen's eight goals against as soft goals, which again are goals he should have stopped.

Two of them came in games the Devils were already decisively losing, so they did not have much of an impact on their respective games. They are fairly good examples of softness.  That first goal against was a shot that Clemmensen saw all the way and still got beat short side under his arm.  The second goal against was also shortside, but that was a function of Clemmensen having to go across the crease and react to a wide open Penguin.  Anyway, the fourth goal against was another shot where Clemmensen saw it, he was in a position to make a stop, and he got beat anyway.   Yes, it was Sidney Crosby, but it was still a slap shot from a decent distance away.  As for the third soft goal, Clemmensen again saw Glencross get the puck, fire, and didn't react.  It was a very well-placed shot as it went off the crossbar and in, but the lack of reaction made me wince yesterday when I watched it again as I did back in November.  Again, only one of these three soft goals had an actual effect in how the game turned out, but the idea is to identify what should have been stopped regardless of the game's score and/or outcome.  If Clemmensen stopped them, would he have received another opportunity? I don't think so, I think Kinkaid's impressive first few starts really crushed that possibility.

That second and third soft goals (GAs #4, #5)  also had a very good example of a skater error.  Jon Merrill should have (but did not) get an assist on that blast by Crosby.  That blind, backhand pass from the boards in the neutral zone was pickable and the worst possible player on Pittsburgh to pick that off did so.   Travis Zajac, who knows better, tried to force a pass forward in his zone past Curtis Glencross.  Glencross denied the pass, recovered the puck, and scored for another turnover turned into a score.  For both I have this to add: ugh.

I counted two other errors by skaters.  On GA #2, Stephen Gionta demonstrated how being too focused on the puck is a bad thing. He came on the ice, immediately went to the play despite two other Devils being in the area.  Gionta was expecting the defender to win it, he didn't, and so two Penguins were wide open in the middle instead of Gionta being in the area to provide any help.  As for GA #8, well, it's not in the video but it's hard to forget that prior to that attack, Jaromir Jagr impressively won a race to the puck to deny an icing call.  And then he flung the puck out from behind the net to the Flames, which gave them one last chance.  All Jagr had to do was basically sit on the puck. Alas, that did not happen.  I didn't fault Clemmensen on either goal, especially not the last one considering it was a rush to the net for a rebound goal.

I counted GA #7 as a fluke. The shot went off Clemmensen, off Andy Greene's leg or skate, and slowly slid into the net. That's not something Jiri Hudler could repeat if he could try.   So that's an example of what I would look for that designation.

In terms of other observations, Clemmensen got beaten to his right more often than his left or even through his legs.  In fact, no goal went through his legs.  Two went left, six to his right.  Some of those six were legitimately past or around the blocker area. Others were just on that side because that's where the puck ended up for a rebound.  Situations skewed towards special teams. Only two of these goals were at even strength, 5-on-5 hockey.  The last two were technically even strength, but Calgary pulled their goalie so they got the "56" designation (5-on-6). The remaining four were all power play goals.   Lastly, only three out of these eight goals against were in scoring chance locations.  The rest were not that far away, they were just outside of the homeplate.

Your Take

I will attempt to continue the series every Sunday throughout the offseason until all three goalies are done. I will try to keep the posts month-by-month, though I may combine two for Keith Kinkaid.  There will be a summary post for Kinkaid and Schneider as each played significant portions of the season.  Clemmensen will not as he only made three appearances, so his short time in New Jersey suffices as an example of what to expect from these posts.

In the meantime, what do you think of this modified format for this annual casual qualitative analysis?   Would you agree with what I termed soft for Clemmensen?  What about the skater errors, did I miss anyone and, if so, why? What else have you learned from looking back at the goals against Clemmensen?  Please leave your answers and other thoughts about Clemmensen's brief appearances with New Jersey.  Kinkaid's review will begin next Sunday. Thank you for reading.