Active NHL goaltenders and their tendency to earn shutouts

Jonathan Quick recently recorded his 300th career win after 575 games played. As if that milestone wasn’t enough to earn applaud, his 300th win was also his 51st shutout. That’s works out to one shutout for every six starts over his career, which equates to earning a shutout in 17.0% of all his wins.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 05: Jonathan Quick #32 of the Los Angeles Kings makes a save in front of Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers and Dion Phaneuf #3 during the first period at Staples Center on January 05, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

A few days later, Nashville Predators’ goalie Pekka Rinne recorded his 328th career win and 54th career shutout, good for a shutout in 16.5% of his wins. These two goaltenders earn both wins and shutouts quite often, but for an average NHL goaltender, just how often does it actually happen? Which goalies tend to get shutouts more often than not?

The bigger picture

Among all active goalies, there are currently 34 goaltenders with at least 100 career wins, ranging from Roberto Luongo with 479 to Connor Hellebuyck with 102.

SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 4: Goaltender Roberto Luongo #1 of the Florida Panthers makes a glove save in their 5-0 shut out over the Boston Bruins at the BB&T Center on December 4, 2018 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)
Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

For these 34 goaltenders, the average percentage of wins that are shutouts is 13.5%, with a standard deviation of 2.6%. Seven goaltenders are at or above one standard deviation for shutout efficiency. Leading the way at a phenomenal 18.4%, or nearly one shutout for every five wins, is Jaroslav Halak. This season, he’s posted three shutouts in thirteen wins, which is above his career average rate.

On the flip side, Thomas Greiss earns shutouts the least often, with only 8.2% of his wins being shutouts. Just ahead of him is Cam Ward at 8.3%. In a league that touts parity, it’s fascinating that there’s such a discrepancy among goalies for shutout wins. Greiss and Ward, for example, require twice as many games to earn a shutout as Halak. Of course, earning a shutout is an accomplishment in itself, but it’s clear that there are goalies that do it much more often than their NHL peers.

The young stars

The three youngest goaltenders here are Andrei Vasilevskiy, John Gibson, and Hellebuyck. All three are earning their reputations as excellent goaltenders, but when it comes to shutout rate, Gibson sets himself apart from the other two.

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 06: John Gibson #36 of the Anaheim Ducks gets ready to make a save on a shot by Oliver Ekman-Larsson #23 of the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on October 6, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)
Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

Gibson has received a ton of credit as to why the Anaheim Ducks are even in the playoff race at all, and the argument could be made that he is the best goaltender in the NHL this season. He’s backstopped the Ducks to victory many times, and frequently earns shutouts. However, he only has one shutout this season, despite sitting at 15 wins.

Vasilevskiy floats at about average on this list with two shutouts, whereas Hellebuyck is below, currently without a shutout through 34 games. Both playing for some of the best teams in the league, it’s surprising that these numbers are not higher this season.

The 100 win club

It’s interesting to see where these goaltenders rank among themselves, whether they’re nearing the end of their illustrious careers, or if they’re just getting started. With the league making efforts towards higher scoring games, shutouts should theoretically occur less and less often.

The full list of active goaltenders with more than 100 career wins is shown below, sorted in decending order of highest ratio of shutouts to wins.

Jaroslav Halak4722.490.9162451564518.4
Brian Elliott4292.450.9132201353817.3
Jonathan Quick5752.30.9163002055117.0
Tuukka Rask4712.260.9222501454216.8
Pekka Rinne5992.370.9193281785416.5
Mike Smith5522.710.9122322293816.4
Roberto Luongo10222.510.9194793857716.1
John Gibson2152.340.923108681715.7
James Reimer3262.810.9141391152115.1
Antti Niemi4592.560.9122411383614.9
Craig Anderson5952.80.9142752204114.9
Cory Schneider3792.40.9191611452414.9
Cam Talbot 2772.560.9161351072014.8
Martin Jones2562.40.914137872014.6
Henrik Lundqvist8362.390.9194432866314.2
Braden Holtby3902.450.919241993414.1
Carey Price5912.480.9183022134213.9
Ben Bishop3512.350.9191891072613.8
Andrei Vasilevskiy 1782.60.918102531413.7
Devan Dubnyk4572.540.9162201663013.6
Jake Allen2532.550.91131851713.0
Marc-Andre Fleury7762.560.9134292395412.6
Jonathan Bernier3072.730.9131331181612.0
Semyon Varlamov4252.650.9162041582411.8
Connor Hellebuyck1822.610.915102531211.8
Ryan Miller7472.610.9153742704311.5
Peter Budaj3682.70.9041581321811.4
Sergei Bobrovsky4272.470.9192361422611.0
Michal Neuvirth2562.710.91104931110.6
Jimmy Howard 4912.50.9152321632410.3
Corey Crawford4322.420.9182361382410.2
Frederik Andersen2872.540.91816872169.5
Cam Ward6872.730.908325251278.3
Thomas Greiss2322.680.9131107598.2

So, what does this mean?

Shutouts are a statistic generally reserved for the best goalies in the league. Those who lead the NHL in career shutouts are some of the best goaltenders ever to play, including several surefire hall-of-famers. That being said, they’re still mostly a random statistic, and a high number of shutouts is not necessarily indicative of a good goalie. Take Calgary Flames goalie Mike Smith, for example. This season, he sits tied for the third most amount of shutouts in the league, but ranks 70th in save percentage. Take that for what you will.

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