The Even-Strength Shutout
During the 2011-2012 regular season, Jonathan Quick earned a total of 18 even-strength shutouts during his 69 starts for the Los Angeles Kings. This was the 3rd largest amount of even-strength shutouts in a single season dating back to the lockout. Miikka Kiprusoff holds the top spot with 23 EVSHO in a single season (2006-2007).
An even-strength shutout (EVSHO) is awarded to a goalie who successfully defends every even-strength shot against directed on net by the opposing team during a complete hockey game. With shutouts already being recorded by NHL statisticians, you might wonder why we should consider an alternative.
To understand the need for a different approach, we’ll start by looking at PKSV% (*). By this, we mean the save percentage of a goalie while his team is on the penalty kill. Several people have looked into the topic of PKSV% (1, 2, 3, 4). With several years of goalie data in our database, we decided to crunch our own numbers. Specifically, we wanted to know if PKSV% was a repeatable skill. That is, can a goalie who posts a good PKSV% one year follow it up with a similar effort in the following year. Likewise, would a goalie who posts poor PKSV% numbers one year be prone to repeating those numbers in the subsequent season. We paired together subsequent seasons of data (2005 & 2006, 2006 & 2007, etc.) and looked for a measure of correlation between the data sets. For the stat-lovers out there, our R-squared values came in at about .02. For you non-stat people, the conclusion is that PKSV% is essentially a non-repeatable skill.
Combining the results of most PKSV% studies with the common-sense notion that goalies should be compared on an apples-to-apples basis (i.e. during even-strength situations), it’s not much of a stretch to see why most people who evaluate goaltending talent do so using EVSV% (even-strength save percentage). This metric is the best available statistic to compare the talent level of two goalies.
Thus, to maintain a level of consistency within goalie analysis, we will be tracking EVSHO this season for all NHL goalies. Below, we look at some post-lockout EVSHO numbers at the league level:
You might be curious as to why the number of EVSHO is trending downward since the lockout. In fact, the number of shutouts (SHO) is up and overall goal scoring is down. So what is happening to EVSHO? As we noted in our article on goal scoring last Summer, the number of powerplay opportunities (PPO) has declined significantly. Because of this decline in PPO since the lockout, teams spend more time at even-strength during hockey games (approximately 83% in 2011-2012); thus, it becomes more difficult to generate an EVSHO. Here are the top EVSHO goalies from the 2011-2012 season. Note the rate at which Quick earned EVSHO (26% of all his starts yielded an EVSHO).
Finally, we look at goalies who have posted at least 15 EVSHO in a single season since the lockout:
To put Kiprusoff’s 23 EVSHO into perspective: he did not allow an even-strength goal in 31% of his 2006-2007 starts (he started 72 games that season). Unfortunately for Kiprusoff, the Flames were barely able to turn that into a playoff spot (8th seed) and were ousted in the first round.
(*) – You might be confused if you look for a stat similar to this at various sites. For example, the NHL.com website calls this the PP SV%. The name is not important, but of course the distinction makes all the difference.