I don’t believe it is that controversial of an opinion to say that Ryan Miller and, more specifically, John Gibson are the main reason that the team is barely out of a playoff position. There have been many games this season where I have personally said, “Wow without Gibson tonight, the team would have had absolutely no chance in that game.” So that got me thinking if there would be a good way to quantify that thought and look into how many additional points the Ducks goaltending has earned the team. The method I determined to be most useful in evaluating this is GSAA.
GSAA stands for Goals Saved Above Average and is determined by calculating the expected SV% of a league average goaltender based on the shot quality faced. That number is then compared to the SV% of the actual goaltender and multiplied by the shot quantity to get the GSAA.
In layman’s terms, its the amount of goals that a goaltender has saved in comparison to an average one. Both Gibson and Miller have been fantastic in this metric on this season as a whole, compiling a combined 25.04 GSAA so far this year. I want to go even deeper with this stat though. I have gone through each individual game this season and evaluated if the goalie has either earned or lost the team points or neither with GSAA. The following is my criteria for points earned and lost:
Points earned: Any Ducks win or overtime loss, where the goaltender had a GSAA greater than the goal difference.
Points given away: Any Ducks regulation or overtime loss, where the goaltender had a GSAA less than the difference.
Note: I will not be considering empty net goals in the goal difference due to the goaltender having no effect on these tallies.
Points Earned games:
October 7th vs Philadelphia: Gibson GSAA: 0.56 and the Ducks lost in OT. Gibson earned the Ducks 1 point.
October 11th vs New York Islanders: Gibson GSAA: 3.19 and the Ducks won by 1 goal. Gibson earned the Ducks 2 points.
October 29th vs Carolina: Miller GSAA: 1.63 and the Ducks won in a SO. Miller earned the Ducks 2 points.
November 4th vs San Jose: Miller GSAA: 4.08 and the Ducks lost in a SO. Miller earned the Ducks 1 point.
November 19th vs Florida: Gibson GSAA: 2.58 and the Ducks won by 1 goal. Gibson earned the Ducks 2 points.
November 20th vs San Jose: Berra GSAA: 1.81 and the Ducks won in a SO. Berra earned the Ducks 2 points.
November 25th vs Los Angeles: Miller GSAA: 1.22 and the Ducks lost in a SO. Miller earned the Ducks 1 point.
November 29th vs St. Louis: Gibson GSAA: 1.51 and the Ducks won by a goal. Gibson earned the Ducks 2 points.
December 2nd vs Nashville: Miller GSAA: 0.83 and the Ducks lost in a SO. Miller earned the Ducks 1 point.
December 5th vs Vegas: Gibson GSAA: 1.7 and the Ducks lost in a SO. Gibson earned the Ducks 1 point.
December 6th vs Ottawa: Miller GSAA: 2.11 and the Ducks won by two goals, but one of the goals was an empty netter. Miller earned the Ducks 2 points.
December 8th vs Minnesota: Gibson GSAA: 0.1 and the Ducks lost in OT. Even though the GSAA is only slightly greater than average, this GSAA would include the negative impact of allowing the OT goal against. Once considering this, it is safe to claim that Gibson earned the Ducks 1 point.
December 11th vs Carolina: Gibson GSAA: 1.96 and the Ducks won by a goal. Gibson earned the Ducks 2 points.
December 16th vs Washington: Gibson GSAA: -0.07 and the Ducks lost in OT. This is the only game where I am going to ignore my rule stated at the beginning because this GSAA includes the negative impact of the OT goal against. Taking away that goal, his GSAA would be positive, which means Gibson earned the Ducks 1 point in this game.
Points Lost games:
November 3rd vs Nashville: Gibson GSAA: -1.66 and the Ducks lost by 2 goals, but one of the goals was an empty netter. Gibson lost the Ducks 2 points.
December 18 vs New Jersey: Miller GSAA: -1.29 and the Ducks lost by 2 goals, but one of the goals was an empty netter. Miller lost the Ducks 2 points.
Looking at the big picture, the Ducks goaltending earned the team 21 points and lost the team 4 points over the entire season for a net of 17 points earned for the team. The Ducks currently sit at 36 points. If the team had received just average goaltending instead of the extraordinary performances they have gotten this season, they would only have 19 points in 33 games. For reference, the worst team in the west, the Arizona Coyotes, have 19 points and the worst team in the East, the Buffalo Sabres, have 23 points. This quantifies the opinion that the Ducks goaltenders are the main reason the they are within striking distance of a playoff spot.
Having strong goaltending is definitely one recipe for success, but relying on it as heavily as the Ducks have so far this season is not something you want to see from a team trying to reach hockey’s ultimate goal. I will add that it is very likely the Ducks have had to rely on goaltending due the long list of injuries and the importance of of it will go down once everyone is healthy. I will keep tabs on this moving forward to see if this is the case.
*All stats from corsica