Tuesday, September 14, 2010

30 > 40?

Michael Neuvirth already has a pretty impressive professional hockey resume: two Calder Cups, a Calder Cup MVP award, an 11-5-0 NHL record and .910 save%. This coming season, he looks to vie for playing time against fellow youngster Semyon Varlamov. Despite displaying two dramatically different goaltending styles, both have managed to work their way into a 1/1A goalie tandem.

In my previous analysis, we've already seen that Varly was susceptible to goals on the blocker side last season. But just how did the 40 goals Neuvy surrendered last season go in. Once again, we head to the video.
Using the same categories to describe how pucks got past Michael as I did with Semyon (location of the shot, whether the shot came off a rebound, was redirected or whether Michael was screened) here's the breakdown:

High Blocker - 6
Low Blocker - 9
High Glove - 5
Low Glove - 5
5 Hole - 9
Other (down and out, on his back, etc) - 6

As for the other factors, I found Neuvirth popped out a bad rebound 10 times, was screened on 7 goals and 5 goals came off deflections or redirections in front (one of which Semin knocked in after a big save by Neuvy).

What's obvious right from the start is that the 5 hole goals are concerning for a butterfly goalie. Neuvy managed to get square to the shooter on almost every one of these goals, but wasn't able to close himself up quickly enough to prevent the squeaker (most of them managed to hit the inside of his pads before going in). Neuvirth also had a tendency to pop out rebounds to the middle, leading to quite a few goals against. At Hershey, his rebound control was quite good, which bodes well for his development at the NHL level.

Neuvy, like Varly, was also vulnerable to blocker-side goals more than on the glove side (15-10). However, those who wish Varly could have Neuvirth's glove hand seem to have something, with only 13% of his goals going in high glove compared to 25% for Varlamov.

Neuvy doesn't have the athleticism or explosiveness of Varlamov. But he is a technically-sound butterfly goalie. He squares himself to the shooter well and the majority of the shots he sees hit him in the body or pads. If the two young goalies can sound up the small holes in their game (and maybe learn something from each other), the Caps could have a very solid last line of defense this season.

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