2022–23 NHL goals saved above expected comparisons across the league: Week 7

For NHL goaltenders, the past seven days have been as crazy as it has been. From massive highlight performances to absolute blunders, this week had it all. Let’s dive right into it and see how goaltenders did in terms of goals saved above expected!

Goals saved above expected as of November 29, 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.

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

What a crazy turn of events for the Pacific Division. For the first time this season, the Calgary Flames are atop the Pacific and… it wasn’t thanks to starting goaltender Jacob Markstrom. In his one appearance, he put up a slightly negative GSAx. It was instead backup goaltender Daniel Vladar whose three starts accumulated nearly four GSAx.

This is a huge improvement for the Flames who have been finding their goaltending in the bottom half for much of the season so far. We’ll see if the team keeps going with Vladar or if Markstrom will get the crease again.

The Pacific has actually seen a lot of backup goaltenders taking the starting job, such as Stuart Skinner and Spencer Martin outplaying Jack Campbell and Thatcher Demko. Vladar’s just the latest Pacific goalie to do the same.

Another huge note for the Pacific was the Seattle Kraken and Los Angeles Kings’ 17 goal affair. Incredibly, the Kraken are on a six-game win streak, in which Martin Jones allowed five, four, and eight goals against in the last three games.

This past week completely cratered Jones’ GSAx as he had the worst mark in the league, yet he earned three wins anyway. That’s hockey, baby.

Central Division goaltenders

The Central Division paralleled the Pacific in which a new team also appeared at the top. This week, it’d be the Arizona Coyotes, who got a big performance from Karel Vejmelka. In an average amount of shots faced, he saved far more than an average goaltender would have an for that ht was the Central’s best goaltender this week.

Connor Hellebuyck had a linearly improving week which saw him let in six, then four, then two, then finally a zero goales for a shutout over his four games played. Despite allowing 12 goals over four games, his GSAx still ended positive.

Metropolitan Division goaltenders

The biggest performance of the week came from Ilya Sorokin. He put up an insane 7.31 GSAx, with a majority coming from a 49-save shutout over the Edmonton Oilers. This was one of the biggest single week GSAx performances by any goaltender, and it’s not the first time Sorokin has been in this conversation. He’s done it earlier this season too.

Other than Sorokin, Darcy Kuemper and Vitek Vanecek had good weeks, while other goaltenders were fairly average. Some were above zero GSAx, some were below, but no one stood out for better or for worse.

Atlantic Division goaltenders

The Atlantic didn’t have too crazy a week in terms of goaltending at all. Every single goaltender was bounded by the +5.0/-5.0 GSAx, which is pretty normal for a week’s worth of hockey. Sam Montembeault, Matt Murray, and Cam Talbot let the Atlantic this week.

On the negative GSAx front, one name that stood out was Sergei Bobrovsky. He stood out specifically due to his low workload of just one game (as Spencer Knight is also another backup earning more starts than the starter). Bobrovsky had a truly bad outing versus the Flames, ceding six goals on just 23 shots faced, earning -3.10 GSAx. One bad game doesn’t mean much in the context of GSAx, but Bobrovsky was the only goalie in the division who had one bad game and nothing else to go with it.

Season-to-date goals saved above expected plots

Now turning to season-to-date plots, let’s check out how the season stacks up. The colour palette for the season-to-date charts is also changed 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 20 GSAx. This is the first time this season the upper limit increased from 15 to 20, so that means at least one goaltender has broken the +15.0 GSAx threshold.

Pacific Division goaltenders

This single week changed everything for the Pacific. While the Vegas Golden Knights are still tops thanks to the mostly steady play of Logan Thompson, the Flames have risen to the second spot. Markstrom isn’t the worst starting goaltender, and Vladar has pulled up the Flames enough to get to this position.

While Stuart Skinner has been the best goaltender in the division, his counterpart Campbell has pulled the Oilers down. Campbell’s GSAx now puts him among the league’s worst.

Again one of the biggest swings in one week went to Jones. He was so, so steady for the past few weeks with net positive performances. Unfortunately, his recent goaltending has sunk his GSAx, but as mentioned it hasn’t sunk the Kraken yet.

The vast majority of Pacific goalies still find themselves with negative GSAx numbers, which is not a good look for the division at all.

Central Division goaltenders

In the Central, Hellebuyck continues to put up separation between him and literally everyone else. While other goaltenders in the second, third, fourth, etc., positions switch around, Hellebuyck’s been fine and dandy on his own as the Central’s best goalie.

As mentioned, his “bad” week was still a positive week for him and he still added to his GSAx total. He was one of the goalies who expanded the chart scale, as his GSAx is currently 15.63.

Vejmelka and Alexandar Georgiev are joining the fray as better goalies in the division as Jake Oettinger has lost his ground there. Juuse Saros is also climbing upwards too.

Mrazek had a tough week and it cratered his GSAx to below -10.0. Interesting for the Chicago Blackhawks, all other goaltenders not named Mrazek are tightly clustered together at just above zero GSAx.

Metropolitan Division goaltenders

Anything Hellebuyck can do… Sorokin can do better? Sorokin’s GSAx is just ever so slightly below 20.0. Sorry, let me rephrase. Sorokin’s GSAx after 17 games played is a whopping 19.87. He’s averaging over one extra goal saved per game and has sustained this for a quarter season. That’s pure insanity.

Even his divisional rival Carter Hart can’t keep pace. The two were neck and neck last week, but that’s no longer the case. Sorokin is running away with GSAx and it’ll take a bad run for him to lose the cushion he’s already built.

Aside from Elvis Merzlikin (who’s out with injury), every other Metropolitan goaltender isn’t doing that bad at all. No one else in the division has a GSAx lower than -5.0, which is quite impressive at the division level.

Atlantic Division goaltenders

The Atlantic Division has been one of the steadier divisions. From a data storytelling perspective, it’s bland, but from a hockey perspective, it’s a good thing. There aren’t any goalies with major week over week swings, and the distribution of GSAx has been fairly constant.

Linus Ullmark has led the division for a while now, and he’s putting himself in the league’s top tier. Sam Monetembeault has popped up a few times now as a sleeper goaltender who’s been good or even great in his backup role.

There’s a trio of goaltenders on the bottom of the scale, but they’re not as bad as the Pacific’s bottom trio.

Crazy goaltending battles

If there was one word to describe goaltending over the past seven days, it’d be “crazy.” The best-in-league goaltenders added separation from the pack by while others just could not buy a save.

Stay tuned over the coming weeks to see who’s next to stack their pads to the top of the GSAx list.

Check out the past GSAx charts here.

Week 1 | W2 | W3 | W4 | W5 | W6

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