2022–23 NHL goals saved above expected comparisons across the league: Week 4

One Pacific Division goaltender stood out as the NHL’s best this week, while another was among the worst. There are surprising names for both good and bad goaltending performances, and there was no shortage of movement among them. Let’s see how this past week of goaltending breaks down in the world of goals saved above expected.

Goals saved above expected as of November 8, 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

As mentioned, the best goaltender this week hailed from the Pacific Division. His name? Martin Jones. He was the only goaltender to be above 5.0 GSAx for a very solid week. He helped power the Seattle Kraken to three victories this past seven days as a part of a longer five-game win streak.

And also mentioned, one of the worst goaltenders this week also hailed from the Pacific. To the dismay of the Calgary Flames, this week’s worst was Jacob Markstrom. To his credit, he was this week’s busiest goaltender—facing more shots than anyone else. This does soften the blow a bit as other goaltenders had equal or worse weeks despite facing far fewer shots.

A trend that’s definitely established in the Pacific: A lot of the goalies are below-average. This week, most of them are negative are hovering right at zero. Aside from Jones, no one else did a good, consistent job of stealing any wins for their teams.

Central Division goaltenders

The Central has had up and down goaltending and it’s been a bit of a two-horse race between Connor Hellebuyck and Jake Oettinger. With the latter being out due to injury, Hellebuyck has added some separation being one of this week’s best goaltenders.

There wasn’t nothing too jarring elsewhere in the division. Karel Vejmelka faced a lot of shots and made more saves than not as a fairly busy goalie. In contrast, Thomas Greiss didn’t see a lot of shots, but he didn’t make many saves either.

Metropolitan Division goaltenders

The Metro was tightly packed this week. Carter Hart is still excellent despite being closer to his peers, Vitek Vanecek has been instrumental in the New Jersey Devils’ win streak, and most notably, reigning Vezina winner Igor Shesterkin had a rare off-week.

As a division, not many shots were seen overall with the majority of the goaltenders being in the darker blue rather than the bright green. Vanecek was the busiest with 84 shots faced, but that places him just eighth in the league over the week.

Right now, it seems like Elvis Merzlikins just can’t buy a save and it’s sinking the Columbus Blue Jackets. His play has been less-than-good week over week and this one was no different.

Atlantic Division goaltenders

We’re onto the Atlantic now, but let’s take a minute to consider how the St. Louis Blues might be regretting letting go of Ville Husso. Might have helped them not lose eight straight in regulation.

Husso was the best goaltender in the Atlantic this past week and he was the busiest too. Erik Kallgren was good for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Andrei Vasilevskiy was good for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

On the other end, Eric Comrie had the worst GSAx outright this past week. However, Anton Forsbeg saw a bad seven days in GSAx coupled with a light workload, arguably making him the worst of the week.

Season-to-date goals saved above expected plots

Now turning to season-to-date plots, let’s check out how the season stacks up. After some great feedback, I also changed the colour palette for the season-to-date charts to differentiate them from the weeklies.

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 -15 to 15 GSAx. With every passing week the scale keeps widening in both directions, meaning good goalies are remaining good, and bad goalies remain bad.

Pacific Division goaltenders

Over the season, the Pacific has seen a two-horse race between Logan Thompson and Stuart Skinner as the best goaltenders. Both are young and have been pitted in tough situations, but both have thrived.

The rest of the goaltenders in the division are a bit tighter together, with many being putting up numbers below expected.

The Pacific is all over the place in terms of usage. John Gibson has faced the most shots and has not fared too well so far this season, but Thatcher Demko remains at the bottom.

Central Division goaltenders

As mentioned in the weekly plots, Hellebuyck’s good week separated him from the pack. He’s now among the league’s top goaltenders, sharing the honours with a couple of Metropolitan goalies (more on them in the next section).

The Winnipeg Jets have once again put the workload onto Hellebuyck, as Rittich didn’t see any game action this week at all. This strategy is paying off for the team as their starter’s play could put him back in the Vezina conversation.

The Chicago Blackhawks are the first team to start four diffferent goaltenders. Petr Mrazek is the odd one out with negative GSAx, while Arvid Soderblom, Alex Stalock, and Dylan Wells are all above zero GSAx.

Metropolitan Division goaltenders

Joining Hellebuyck as the best, Hart and Ilya Sorokin round out the three goaltenders with GSAx of above 10. Just one month into the season, reaching that mark is quite impressive.

The Metropolitan has the biggest range of good and bad goalies. Two of the best in the league in the division, but the worst goaltender is also there too. Merzlikins finds himself alone as the only goaltender in the NHL with a GSAx of lower than -10.

The difference between Hart and Merzlikins right now? 25.84 GSAx. That’s an insane gap, especially considering it’s just one month into the season. If the two of them actually performed exactly as expected, Merzlikin’s 34 goals against would be better at 23, at Hart’s 16 goals against would be much worse at 29. Playoff implications are already clear given they’re in the same division. The Flyers are definitely in the race, the Blue Jackets are practically already out.

Atlantic Division goaltenders

The Atlantic Division right now is perhaps the most boring. The best and worst teams in GSAx don’t differ by that much, and there’s more interesting things happening in the middle of the division.

Jake Allen and Sam Montembeault have been good goalies in Carey Price’s absence, while Sergei Bobrovsky and Spencer Knight combine to be the division’s worst tandem.

However, there more teams in the division with both better and worse goaltending at the same time. Most notably, Husso’s outstanding goaltending is negated by Alex Nedeljkovic. Craig Anderson is negated by Eric Comrie. You can even argue that Linus Ullmark is negated by Jeremy Swayman.

A lot of Atlantic teams with good goalies coupled with bad goalies, and it’s making for a tight split in terms of team GSAx.

Fantasy outlook on GSAx

Weekly GSAx

On the weekly front, Jones, Vanecek, and Husso are potential targets to look at if they are available. Definitely chances that at least one of them can be grabbed on the waiver wire. They’re all red-hot and a good game or two riding into the weekend games could be a difference maker.

GoaliePercent Rostered on Yahoo!Weekly GSAxShots Against
Martin Jones48%5.0984
Vitek Vanecek66%2.7784
Ville Husso81%3.7591

Season-to-date GSAx

When looking at season to date, if you’re targeting goalies for the long haul, there are some names that pop out right now.

Vanecek is making a decent case for himself as a good long-term pick up as the Devils are in a great spot as a team.

Watch for the Blackhawks and which goaltender remains healthy. Mrazek might be getting more starts as he’s back from the IR, but don’t count out starts from Soderblom either, given that the team placed Wells on waivers.

If you’re short on saves, consider taking a look at Vejmelka too. He’s getting the coyote’s share of the workload in Arizona and has been generally fine after finding his groove.

GoaliePercent RosteredSeason-to-date GSAxShots Against
Vitek Vanecek66%1.52177
Petr Mrazek5%-3.6479
Arvid Soderblom2%1.95132
Karel Vejmelka18%2.27327

Big swings in goaltending

It’s been one month and the goaltending picture is already becoming clear. Vezina frontrunners? Check. Goaltenders that are making it very hard for their team to win games? Check.

The way goalies perform in GSAx game over game or week over week can rapidly change, but the league’s most consistent goaltenders have made themselves more prominent—for better or for worse.

Check out the past GSAx charts here.

Week 1 | 2 | 3

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