2022–23 NHL goals saved above expected comparisons across the league: Week 2

Goaltending has been all over the map so far this season. In just the first few weeks, there have been wild swings in goalie performances. Some have already stood out as top goaltenders, while others are fluctuating week-over-week, or even game-to-game.

Goals saved above expected as of October 25, 2022

One way to objectively compare goaltenders is to evaluate their goals saved above expected (GSAx). For every shot, there’s an assigned expected goal (xG) value, and as a goaltender makes or doesn’t make saves based on expected values, the difference between their xG against and their actual goals against will start varying compared to other goaltenders.

With the randomness of goaltending seemingly happening not just season over season but at times even week over week, we can plot every goaltender’s GSAx to see how they stack up compared to the rest of the league. Using data visualisation, comparing goaltenders can be done quickly with a lot of context in each chart.

Last week, GSAx plots were presented from October 7 through October 18—the data being combined into a longer week. From here on out, each set of charts will be weekly from Wednesday’s games through to the following Tuesday’s games. This is to capture the additional slate of games typically played on Tuesdays, for no other reason than to have the most data available in a timely, yet weekly manner.

In addition to weekly GSAx plots, season-to-date charts will also be looked at to see how goalies stack up against one another over the course of a season. This will help highlight which goaltenders are among the best and who should be frontrunners for the Vezina Trophy. All data is from

Weekly goals saved above expected plots

The plots are split into each division, and then teams are ranked in order of the highest total team GSAx to the lowest. Each goaltender will then sit along the x-axis based on their GSAx totals. The colour of each goaltender is determined based on total shots against compared to the whole league (as opposed to per division)—the more shots a goaltender faces, the brighter and yellower their point; the fewer shots, the darker and bluer.

Similarly to the shots against colour being league-wide, the x-axis per plot is also scaled league-wide, based on the two individual goaltenders with the highest and lowest GSAx. This makes visual comparisons between the four plots a bit easier.

Pacific Division goaltenders

This past week, the Pacific division was a tale of two goaltending groups. About half of the division played at a net-positive level, led by Jacob Markstrom. The other half was less stellar, with Martin Jones finding himself at the bottom of the pack.

Thatcher Demko was the busiest Pacific goaltender facing the most shots this past week, but he was well below a breakeven GSAx mark, as the Canucks are the last team in the NHL to remain winless. More on Demko a bit later.

However, the division as a whole had a week where things were steadier than not. Aside from Jones, everyone was contained between -2.5 to 2.5 GSAx. Since the axes of the chart is scaled for all four divisions, this means that other goaltenders performed better (and maybe worse—since Jones is below -2.5, the chart accounts for this. Spoiler: he was not the worst this week).

Central Division goaltenders

The Central Division was quite similar to the Pacific—about half above the zero GSAx mark, and the other half below. However, there’s a couple standouts.

Alexandar Georgiev was one of the league’s busiest goaltenders, highlighted by his bright data point, and he ended up net-positive in GSAx behind the Colorado Avalanche’s solid defence.

Marc-Andre Fleury dug himself out of a big hole and was among the division’s best goalies this week after he was by and large the worst goalie in the league to open the year.

At the top of the division, Jordan Binnington had a light week but saved plenty of goals, while Karel Vejmelka struggled, being the worst Central goaltender with a fairly limited workload.

Metropolitan Division goaltenders

The league’s busiest goaltender this week was Tristan Jarry, facing a total of 119 shots against in three games played. He ended up just above zero for GSAx in a formidable effort.

Carter Hart continues to impress as a top goaltender in the Metropolitan—or rather in the league. His workload was light with just one game, but he still made more saves than expected nevertheless.

Igor Shesterkin and Jaroslav Halak had contrasting weeks—the reigning Vezina winner was good, his counterpart was not.

Atlantic Division goaltenders

Now the Atlantic definitely had the most interesting seven days. At the top of the league, Ilya Samsonov was the best goaltender this week in terms of GSAx. He led the Toronto Maple Leafs to two wins against the Dallas Stars and Winnipeg Jets, before losing to the Vegas Golden Knights. Samsonov was in his own league this past week with no other goaltender particularly close.

On the other end of the spectrum, Alex Nedeljkovic was by far the league’s worst goaltender this week—with no other goaltender particularly close either. He was bested twice against the the Chicago Blackhawks and New Jersey Devils, giving up 10 goals against in limited play. Ville Husso was good in his appearance to get the Detroit Red Wings their only win this week.

Season-to-date goals saved above expected plots

It’s been a crazy week of hockey to say the least. Now turning to season-to-date plots, let’s check out the action. The plots are rescaled to account for different maximum and minimum GSAx values, but as above, all four divisions are scaled together to make the season-to-date comparisons easier.

Pacific Division goaltenders

Right away the biggest standout in the Pacific is that the four busiest goalteners in the league are all from this division. James Reimer has faced 195 shots against, while Jonathan Quick, Demko, and John Gibson follow with 187, 187, and 186, respectively.

Logan Thompson leads the division in GSAx, whereas Demko is the worst not just in the Pacific but in the league. Reimer has been a bit of a surprise, also being one of the division’s best despite the San Jose Sharks losing more often than they’re winning.

In a crazy coincidence, the Seattle Kraken are seeing Philipp Grubauer and Jones putting up identical GSAx of -4.05 so far, literally seeing perfect overlap on the chart.

Prior to their latest game against the St. Louis Blues where they turned to Stuart Skinner, the Edmonton Oilers started Jack Campbell in three straight games, but he wasn’t able to really claw out of his negative GSAx hole on the season.

Central Division goaltenders

Jake Oettinger added to his GSAx total, as he and Hart are the two goaltenders with at least six GSAx so far. Considering GSAx can go in either direction game-to-game, it’s impressive that both goaltenders are this high this early in the season.

Despite Fleury’s good week, he’s still the lowest GSAx goalie in the Central. That goes to show just how bad the open to his season was—even a strong week wasn’t good enough to pull him out of the bottom.

Connor Hellebuyck is rounding into form to be one of the top goalies in the Central, and Alex Stalock is surprising everyone—even his own teammates—as the Chicago Blackhawks keep winning.

Metropolitan Division goaltenders

As mentioned, Hart is the best goaltender in the league thus far this season. The Philadelphia Flyers won’t be turning to Felix Sandstrom much, and they have little reason to unless Hart’s play drastically falls off.

The two standout teams (for the wrong reasons) in the Metro are the New Jersey Devils and Columbus Blue Jackets. All four goalies on these two teams have been negative GSAx goalies, and it hasn’t led to too much winning for either of them. In fact, Elvis Merzlikins is one of the worst goalies in the league right now, with only Demko being worse.

Another interesting highlight in the Metro is how Tristan Jarry’s the division’s busiest goaltender without anyone else being close to him. Shesterkin follows him but lags by nearly 30 shots. The Penguins haven’t done a good job at suppressing shots against to say the least.

Atlantic Division goaltenders

The Atlantic is one of the tightest divisions so far this season. No goalie has seen an abnormally high workload with Linus Ullmark facing the most shots against at 171.

Samsonov’s week elevated him to the top of the division, while Jeremy Swayman did not get a chance to pull himself out of his hole as he remained last the division with Ullmark getting all of the Boston Bruins’ starts.

As a division, the Atlantic is the most underwhelming when it comes to GSAx—nothing too crazy anywhere.

League-wide notes on GSAx

Weekly GSAx

On the week, Samsonov’s solo performance puts Toronto at the top at 4.30 GSAx, followed by the Sharks at 3.28 with Reimer and Kaapo Kahkonen. The Arizona Coyotes are at the bottom this week as Vejmelka and Connor Ingram combined for -5.34. The Kings had the second worst week as a team as they clocked in at -4.06 GSAx.

The team closest to zero GSAx, i.e. the most expected goaltending are the Tampa Bay Lightning, as Andrei Vasilevskiy and Brian Elliott combined for 0.04 GSAx.

Season-to-date GSAx

On the season, the Stars have the best team GSAx with 7.66, followed by the Flyers at 6.17. The Los Angeles Kings have the worst with -8.37, but the Blue Jackets and Kraken aren’t far ahead, with Columbus sitting at -8.34 and the Kraken at -8.10.

The team closest to zero GSAx, are the Florida Panthers, with Sergei Bobrovsky and Spencer Knight combining for a cannot-get-closer-to-breakeven value of -0.01.

Expectations on goaltending

So much success and failure in hockey can be found in a great or awful goaltending performance. Some of the teams that find themselves at the top have been propped by their goaltenders, and some at the bottom have gotten no help from theirs.

October’s turning over to November soon so if teams down early don’t find ways to win soon, they’re gonna be down and out. We’ll be back with more GSAx charts every week throughout the season!

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