March 12, 2017, 1:18 PM ET [9 Comments]
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The Canes dropped a disappointing game in overtime to the Leafs last night. While the Canes put forth another solid effort, the tiny details continue to be what kills games. One extremely poor goal by Ward, a few D collapses and failed attempts to clear the puck out of the zone were the most concerning.
One interesting idea that I saw floated involved Frederik Andersen—many indicated that the Canes would be a playoff team if they had him. Here’s the thing though, the Maple Leafs have actually conceded more goals than the Canes this year—the Leafs have allowed 199 to the Canes 189.
While GAA isn’t a great indicator for how strong/good a goalie is, it does give a good look at how well the entire team plays and does set a benchmark for the average expected allowed goals per game. Ironically, Ward has a lower GAA than Andersen by just a slight margin. By no means am I saying that Ward is better than Andersen (because he isn’t and it’s not close), however, I did want to look at how Andersen would do applying his stats to the Canes.
Looking at Andersen’s stats, one will see that he has just over a 1% difference in save percentage. If you look at the total amount of shots that Ward has seen (1,428), you can then make a rough estimation that one percent more stopped rubber would keep around 14-15 more pucks out of the net. Honestly, those 14-15 goals probably wouldn’t have won the Canes many more games than they already have though. To make a significant difference, Anderson would need to be posting around a .925 or higher on the Canes.
What people fail to discuss and take into the equation is that the Leafs have scored 204 goals—comparing the Canes goalie issues to a team that has scored 42 more goals than the Canes is not even close to apples-apples. In fact, that is almost an extra goal per game that the Leafs score than the Canes.
This also doesn’t take into consideration that the Leafs possess the league’s best PP. The fact is, the Canes are in the bottom third for their PP and goals for, while the Leafs are top ten in the league for goals scored and PP. What is even more comical is that I have heard many grumbles from Leaf fans that Andersen is the reason they aren’t further up in the standings.
So how does a goalie who has similar goals allowed on another team that’s been bailed out offensively really help improve the Canes—especially if the Canes have 42 less goals than the Leafs…
I am by no means saying that Ward/Lack haven’t screwed over games that were winnable, but this continuous focus that changing the man in the pipes solves scoring issues is a bit comical. In fact, a better comparison for the Canes is the Devils.
The PP, PK, scoring and goals allowed are almost right on pace for each other—the difference: The Devils have Schneider who many consider a top 10 NHL goalie. Don’t forget, they also traded their top right-handed young D for an elite scorer—ask Schneider how that’s worked out this year for his statistics…
My point is that while it is frustrating to lose games because of goaltending, the amount of focus that is solely on Ward is unwarranted. It’s like having a pitcher who gives up 5 runs a game on a team that scores only 2 runs on average. You can fix the pitcher all you want, but it most likely won’t change the other areas that are lacking.
This naturally progresses us to the next question—was this the year to replace Ward? Potentially. However, replacing him doesn’t guarantee that the Canes performed much better. Canes fans have been patient for a long time to return to the post-season, however, sometimes making moves at the right time is more important than just making moves.