2022–23 NHL goals saved above expected comparisons across the league: Week 3

One week in the world of NHL goaltending can make a huge difference. Some teams were absolutely sunk by poor goaltending while others were propped up by their netminders. Let’s see how goaltending performances have been over the past week.

Goals saved above expected as of November 1, 2022

If you’ve seen these plots before, please feel free to scroll right down and start checking out the visualisations. Otherwise, here’s a quick explainer on how to read the GSAx charts.

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.

For the first 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

The Pacific Division was all over the place, but once again, no one team stood out as much as other teams in other divisions have.

Leading the division, Stuart Skinner has again been excellent in his starts while his counterpart Jack Campbell continues to struggle. It’s been like this for the entire opening month.

The Calgary Flames saw a huge drop as a two losses in a row saw Jacob Markstrom post almost exactly zero GSAx while Daniel Vladar struggled in his outing versus the Seattle Kraken.

John Gibson was the “busiest” goaltender, being the only one to start three games, but he only faced 83 shots anyway, making for an unremarkable week compared to other divisions.

Let’s get into the real goaltending action away from the Pacific.

Central Division goaltenders

The Central were led by two goaltenders. Karel Vejmelka had himself a huge a bounceback week in saving shots, but only had one win to show for it. Connor Hellebuyck is finding his groove and continuing his goaltending prowess and helped the Winnipeg Jets pick up five of six possible points alongside David Rittich.

Juuse Saros continues his workhorse load for the Nashville Predators and just narrowly eked out a positive GSAx. On the otherwise, the week’s worst goaltender was Jordan Binnington. In three appearances, he picked up three losses and cratered his GSAx, being the only goalie to be below -5 GSAx on the week.

Metropolitan Division goaltenders

The Metropolitan goaltenders continue to impress. Carter Hart had a mighty fine week with almost exactly five GSAx, but two other goaltenders blew right past that as both Darcy Kuemper and Ilya Sorokin picked up over six GSAx. Simply put, an outstanding week for the Metro’s best.

These three were the busiest goaltenders in the division too (with Hart facing 125 shots), as all other goaltenders were limited in both starts and shots faced.

Tristan Jarry had the worst week in the division but it wasn’t anything too jarring by any means.

Atlantic Division goaltenders

The week’s overall busiest goaltender was Anton Forsberg, who faced 130 shots. He ended with positive GSAx despite the Ottawa Senator’s losing streak.

In similar ways to the Pacific, the Atlantic Division had a bit of a quiet week. Nothing stood out as being too crazy.

Jeremy Swayman led the division in GSAx despite facing very few shots, while Alex Nedeljkovic had the weakest performance, being ever so slightly above -5 GSAx.

Season-to-date goals saved above expected plots

There was no shortage of goaltending stories this past week. Now turning to season-to-date plots, let’s check out how the season stacks up.

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. The scale for the season goes from -10 to 15 GSAx, so the league is starting to widen up between the worst and the best goalies.

Pacific Division goaltenders

The Pacific is just… bad. Most goaltenders are negative, and the ones who are positive are barely just. Aside from Stuart Skinner and Logan Thompson, it’s hard to look at goaltending as a position of strength for the division on aggregate.

Thatcher Demko had another negative week to bring his season total down even lower, now nearly at -10 GSAx. John Gibson and Jonathan Quick are both heavy workload goalies with less-than-stellar performances too.

Overall, not a great showing of goaltending over the month of October for the Pacific.

Central Division goaltenders

The Central somewhat parallels the Pacific, with two goaltenders leading the pack. Hellebuyck leads the division while Jake Oettinger is not far behind.

For all other Central goaltenders, they at least find themselves clustered together between -5 and 5 GSAx. After a month of play, that’s not a bad spot to be in for any goaltender. Unspectacular, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing at all.

Filip Gustavsson and Petr Mrazek are at the bottom of the division, but neither of them are starters on their team so their poor goaltending isn’t factoring in quite as much as say the Demkos or Gibsons of the 2022–23 season.

Metropolitan Division goaltenders

By far the most interesting division, the Metro has some of the best and worst performances of the season. There’s a forming trend here as two goaltenders lead the division in Hart and Sorokin. Hart is the league leader in GSAx right now and he’s been heavily relied upon by the Philadelphia Flyers.

As fast as Hart is pulling away from the division in making his early case for the Vezina Trophy, Elvis Merklikins is trending in the wrong direction. He has the second worst GSAx aside from Demko, but Merzlikins is quite alone in his division. Where the Pacific shares their misery around, the Metro has separated itself with all other goalies being significantly better than Merzlikins so far.

Atlantic Division goaltenders

The Atlantic Division has been quite dull in terms of goaltending performances (but not overall goaltending stories—I mean, look at Toronto’s perpetual goalie conundrum).

Not a single goaltender in the division has surpassed the 5 GSAx mark yet. The best goaltender in the division has been Linus Ullmark so far, seeing good GSAx numbers with a heavy workload. That said, Ilya Samsonov has the best raw GSAx so far.

Nedeljkovic, like Merzlikins, finds himself alone in the division as the worst goaltender with no one else as close.

Forsberg leads the league with a total of 276 shots against, in which he’s still above water in terms of GSAx.

League-wide notes on GSAx

Weekly GSAx

The massive performances from Sorokin and Kuemper have their teams leading the weekly GSAx. The New York Islanders have exactly 6.00 GSAx, the Washington Capitals have 5.50. The St. Louis Blues have the worst weekly GSAx at -5.52.

The team closest to zero GSAx on the week? The Vancouver Canucks. Spencer Martin‘s 2.20 GSAx is almost perfectly negated by Demko’s -2.19, which has them clocking in at 0.01 GSAx on the week.

Season-to-date GSAx

The best team right now on GSAx is Philadelphia, with all of the credit going to Hart. They sit at 11.15 GSAx, where Hart’s 11.85 pulls up Felix Sandstrom‘s negative GSAx clip.

The next best team are the Islanders with 10.19, with a similar story of Sorokin pulling up the total and Semyon Varlomov weighing them down—albeit to a lesser degree than Sandstrom.

The Flyers and Islanders are the only two teams to have a double digit GSAx right now.

The worst teams right now are the Columbus Blue Jackets and Los Angeles Kings, clocking in a -10.69 (not nice) and -10.28, respectively. Paralleling the best teams, they’re the only two teams to have double digit negative GSAx.

The Toronto Maple Leafs actually combine to be the closest team to zero overall GSAX, as their three goalies sum up to -0.79.

Separation is already beginning

The NHL’s seeing plenty of differences in goaltending. Some teams are surprising even themselves on the standings with more wins than expected thanks to great goaltending, while others are already lamenting over poor Octobers and are very low on morale.

Check out the past GSAx charts here.

Week 1 | 2

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