Anaheim Ducks Stat-urday: Picking Your Horse

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Ducks have the rare luxury of two great goaltenders heading into the playoffs. Who should get the nod?

With fingers-crossed, and wood-knocked, it appears that the Anaheim Ducks are ready to open the playoffs in great shape. Players have been given rest to recuperate from their bumps and bruises and players like Nick Bonino and Cam Fowler are once again healthy. The only real question that remains is who the Ducks should start in net for the playoffs.

Coming into the season, many (including Boudreau) assumed that Jonas Hiller would be getting the lion’s share of starts, with Bruce at one point saying he thought it might be around 40. Viktor Fasth, who was presumably signed as a $1M backup, has complicated matters by having an outstanding rookie season this year. With the playoffs looming, I figured it would be a good idea to evaluate the goalies based on their season, their recent performance, and their play against potential first-round teams to get a better sense of just who should man the net next week.

Season Stats

At a top-level look, here’s how Hiller and Fasth stack-up over the season.

Hiller

Fasth

Games Played

26

24

Record

15-6-4

15-5-2

Goals Against Average

2.36

2.10

Save Percentage

.913

.924

Shutouts

1

4

Shots Against Per Game

26.0

26.3

PP Goals Allowed

22

8

PP Shots Faced

131

80

PP Save Percentage

.832

.900

Shorthanded Goals Allowed

3

1

Shorthanded Shots Faced

15

11

Shorthanded Save Percentage

.800

.909

In nearly every stat, Fasth comes out on top. He’s seen slightly more shots per game than Hiller but is stopping more of them. Both goalies have won 15 games, but Fasth has the slightly better points percentage (0.727 vs 0.68). And though Fasth has a significantly better save percentage on the penalty kill (listed in the table as PP Save Percentage), he’s also faced 51 fewer shots in just two fewer games. This tells me that for whatever reason, the team is giving up A TON of shots on the PK when Hiller is in net (5.04 per game), while doing a much better job of limiting opponent chances when Fasth is on the ice (3.33 per game).

What does this mean? It means that the team’s performance on the PK when Jonas is on the ice is significantly dragging down his overall numbers. You might not believe it, but Jonas actually owns a better even strength save percentage than Fasth does (.936 vs .928). Obviously, this team will find themselves shorthanded in the playoffs, but if they’re able to limit the number of PK opportunities, Hiller is the better choice. If this team takes a ton of penalties, I’d be inclined to want to see Fasth in net. Unfortunately, we have no idea how penalties will play out. Now, how about their recent play?

Last Five Starts

Since the goalies are actually pretty close on the season, let’s see if one of them appears to be significantly hotter than the other going into the playoffs.

Hiller

Fasth

Games Played

5

5

Record

3-2-0

2-1-1*

Goals Against Average

1.94

1.80

Save Percentage

.931

.933

Shutouts

0

1

Shots Against Per Game

26.2

24

* Includes one period of relief against Avalanche on April 10th.

The great thing is that both goalies appear to be reasonably hot over their past five games, with both posting better save percentages and GAA numbers than they have on the season. Fasth is continuing to play strong while Hiller appears to have stepped up his game recently. This is a great thing, but it doesn’t really help us decide who should get the nods in the playoffs.

Against the Contenders

With the second seed locked down, the Ducks will face whoever ends up in the seventh spot overall. According to the awesome Sports Club Stats, we see that the Ducks have a chance of playing either San Jose, Minnesota, Detroit, or Columbus in the first round. Let’s take a look at how each goalie has fared against these potential playoff contenders. We’ll list these in order of likelihood of facing that opponent (as of 4/26).

Against Minnesota (48.8% chance of facing them)

Hiller


Fasth

Games Played

2

1

Record

2-0-0

1-0-0

Goals Against Average

1.5

1.00

Save Percentage

.953

.963

Shutouts

0

0

Shots Against Per Game

31

27

Against Detroit (31.5% chance of facing them)

Hiller


Fasth

Games Played

2

2

Record

0-1-0*

1-1

Goals Against Average

2.49

3.62

Save Percentage

.879

.872

Shutouts

0

0

Shots Against Per Game

16.5

19.5

* Includes relief appearance

Against San Jose (15.9% chance of facing them)

Hiller


Fasth

Games Played

2

3

Record

0-1-1

2-1-0

Goals Against Average

2.88

2.68

Save Percentage

.872

.919

Shutouts

0

0

Shots Against Per Game

23.5

33

Against Columbus (3.8% chance of facing them)

Hiller


Fasth

Games Played

2

1

Record

1-0-1

0-0-1

Goals Against Average

1.94

2.89

Save Percentage

.911

.893

Shutouts

0

0

Shots Against Per Game

22.5

27

Um, can we please play Minnesota? Because both Hiller and Fasth are lights out against them, with Viktor just edging Jonas there. We should be happy with either of them if we draw Minneosta.

Though Jonas doesn’t have a win against Detroit, like Fasth does, he sports better GAA and save percentage numbers against the winged wheel (though their save percentages are damn close). Fasth has fared better against San Jose, beating them twice and saving significantly more shots in games versus the Sharks than Hiller has. If the Ducks draw the Jackets, Hiller should get the nod, due to his better numbers against them.

Conclusion

I was really hoping a clear favorite would emerge here, but damn, these numbers are actually pretty close. The great news for Ducks fans is that Jonas is coming on strong while Vik is continuing to exhibit the strong play that has earned him so many appearances this year.

It’s no secret that I’ve always been a big fan of Jonas, and I’m inclined to give him the nod in the playoffs. He’s got a track record of success and has shown the ability to steal a playoff series for this team. I also think the team’s overall poor play in front of him on the PK has skewed his numbers a bit. That said, if we were to end up facing Detroit (please no), I would actually feel pretty good with Fasth.

Either way, I like our chances.

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