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Reviewing the Goals Against Keith Kinkaid: November & December 2014

Keith Kinkaid did very well in his first three starts in 2014-15, which led him to securing the #2 goaltending spot for the New Jersey Devils. In light of that, this is the first of four posts that reviews all of the goals against Kinkaid to learn what beat him and how.

Keith Kinkaid got what every goalie works towards in December 2014: a hug from Stephen Gionta.  Also, his first win in the NHL.
Keith Kinkaid got what every goalie works towards in December 2014: a hug from Stephen Gionta. Also, his first win in the NHL.
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Last Sunday was the return of the annual review of every goal against a New Jersey Devils goaltender.  As an introduction as far as what I will be doing for this year's review, I looked at all eight goals allowed by Scott Clemmensen. Today begins the more fruitful review of Keith Kinkaid, who became the team's #2 goaltender in 2014-15.  Kinkaid will at least be the #2 goaltender for some time as he signed a two-year contract with the New Jersey Devils in April. Kinkaid made only nineteen appearances last season, so it's too early to say whether he's really good or not.  It's more accurate to say that he did rather well in most of his appearances, especially since he faced about thirty shots per sixty minutes in all situations per War on Ice.

However, the question must be asked: could he have done better?  Could he have stopped a few more of those forty goals that he did concede?  Were there any common traits among the goals against?  We will review all forty goals to find out the answers to those questions and more.  As Kinkaid actually played in six of the season's seven months, I have decided to split up his review into bi-monthly installments with a summary at the end.  This one will be short as it consists of only six appearances and three starts by Kinkaid.  Again, they were not easy games as those three starts were against Chicago, the Islanders, and Tampa Bay.  And Kinkaid was a key reason why the Devils got at least a point in each of them.  There will be more to review as he played more and gave up more goals in following months.   For now, let's review the seven goals against Kinkaid in November and December 2014.

The 7 Goals Against Kinkaid in Nov. & Dec. 2014 - A Chart

Date GA# Where Beaten? GA Description Soft? Video Errors SC? Sit.
11/6 1 Below the glove Pietrangelo fired from center point, Backes tipped it in front. No Link -- No PP
12/9 2 Off the glove Bickell leads 3-on-1, shot goes off glove and in. Yes Link -- Yes ES
12/9 3 On the right flank Hossa takes a shot, Kinkaid stops it. Rebound goes right and Keith has a lay-up. No Link Sislo Yes ES
12/15 4 Past the blocker Strome slides a pass from behind the net to an open Bailey in the slot. No Link Helgeson Gomez Yes ES
12/15 5 Above the right shoulder Martin gets sprung for a two-on-one, picks the top left corner. Yes Link Helgeson Yes ES
12/19 6 Low and left of the goalie Stamkos follows up a second-effort to poke a rebound in. No Link -- Yes ES
12/19 7 Under the glove Garrison shot is blocked in slot, Kucherov picks it up, skates around Callahan and backhands one past moving Kinkaid. No Link Harrold Yes 65

Commentary

Impressively, every single one of these goals against Kinkaid came from a scoring chance location with the exception of the first one: a deflection by David Backes at the crease. (That would be GA #1, in Kinkaid's first fill-in appearance of the season.) From a big picture perspective, that's not a bad thing as it means the opposition is not just finding pucks into the net on shots from low-percentage areas.  That said, not all seven of these goals against were necessarily good ones.  The first one he gave up in his first NHL start, GA #2, was very much the definition of a soft goal.  Kinkaid had a clear view of the skater and he had a reasonable chance to make a stop.  Kinkaid was an inch or two from making the save; the shot went off the glove and into the net. His reaction after the goal, which you can see in the linked video, is telling: he knew he should have stopped it.  This is not to say that Kinkaid was truly bad in his first NHL start.  On the contrary, he was very good.  That was just an error.

Likewise in his first road start on Long Island.  Matt Martin got sprung for what was essentially a 2-on-1.  Martin picked the top left (the shooter's left) corner perfectly to tie up the game. That goal against, GA #5, I recorded as soft. Like GA #2, Kinkaid had a clear view of the shot, he had the opportunity to make a stop, and he did not.  While Martin's shot was excellent, those facts do not change.  Still, that does not mean he played a bad game.  It was just a poor goal to allow.

One may wonder that if I tagged those goals as soft, then why not GAs #4 and #7?  It's true there was no screen or deflection on GA #4.  However, that was a case where Kinkaid really was not in a position to make a stop.  He was hung out to dry with the eventual scorer open right in front of him.  Josh Bailey did not score on a one-timer, but he wasted no time when he got the puck in the slot.   Therefore, I would not record that as soft.  While GA #7 featured a puck hitting off Kinkaid, it does not appear that Kinkaid clearly saw the puck.  Kinkaid was in motion, tracking Nikita Kucherov after he picked up the puck off a blocked shot.  With Ryan Callahan essentially blocking out Andy Greene, Kucherov used that to get in space and fire a backhanded shot that just snuck in through a tiny window.  If Kinkaid had a better view of it, then he could have been expected to make that spot.  He did not, so I did not tag that as soft.

I will say that those goals against did feature some errors.  Both goals in the Islanders game featured Seth Helgeson making a bad decision.  I included Scott Gomez on GA #4 because just as Helgeson ignore the slot, he was in it before moving away.  Both decisions gave Bailey all the space in the one area of the defensive zone where a team should not allow space.  GA #7 would not have been possible if it was not for a botched clearance by Peter Harrold. Only one other goal featured an error: GA #3.  Mike Sislo was not watching the point, instead he focused on the middle. That allowed Duncan Keith to jump and slam in a rebound that caromed his way.  To my surprise, I did not find anyone egregiously at fault on GA #6, the one where Steven Stamkos poked in a rebound after two attempts by Ryan Callahan.  He just swooped into score.  If I wanted to be really picky, then I could have pointed a finger at Martin Havlat for not dropping in sooner but I don't think he could have made up that difference if he wanted to do so.

There was not really much else of particular note among these seven goals.  Most of them were at a mid-range height.  All but two were at even strength and GA #7 was technically even strength with the opposition's goalie pulled.  Nothing went through Kinkaid's legs, goals against him went either left or right.  I did not think any of the goalies were flukes.  And none involved a pass across the Royal Road, although the rebound for GA #3 did.

Your Take

Next month, there will certainly be more to analyze and review.  Kinkaid made six apperances, five starts, and gave up much more than seven goals.  In the meantime, let me know what you think of the seven goals Kinkaid did allow in the two months of 2014 he played in.  Would you agree that the two goals I called soft were soft?  What about the skater errors? Did I miss or mis-identify anyone and, if so, why? What else have you learned from looking back at the goals against Kinkaid?  Please leave your answers and other thoughts about Kinkaid's first seven goals allowed.  January and February will be reviewed next Sunday. Thank you for reading.