2022–23 NHL goals saved above expected comparisons across the league: Week 8

New names made their way to both the top and bottom of the league for this week’s goals saved above expected performances. For some teams, they got surprising goaltending, for others it’s more of the same stuff in the crease they’ve seen all season. Let’s see how it all breaks down.

Goals saved above expected as of December 6, 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

It’s been a rare sight so far, but the Pacific Division was quite boring this past week. This is arguably a good thing as all season long, the Pacific’s goaltending has been weak, where the bad is really bad, and the good isn’t quite that good.

As seen in the plot, the majority of the goalies hug the 0.0 GSAx line quite closely. Adin Hill had the highest GSAx at 2.65 while Spencer Martin had the lowest at -3.59. With a total GSAx spread slightly over 5.0, it was a tight week with no goaltender excelling and no goaltender seeing disaster either.

The plots are scaled for the league, which means elsewhere in other divisions, at least one goaltender had more than 5.0 GSAx and another had less than -5.0. So as mentioned, this is a good boring for the Pacific. All goalies were unspectacular. For the Pacific, that’s a huge improvement from previously seeing most goalies being completely underwater.

There’s also the persistent story of Stuart Skinner versus Jack Campbell. For so, so many weeks already this season, it’s been Skinner with a positive GSAx and Campbell with a negative one.

Central Division goaltenders

The worst performance of the week belongs to Jordan Binnington. He’s been focused on everything but saving pucks and his antics have even been under scrutiny by St. Louis Blues head coach Craig Berube. His GSAx performance was a deafening “oof” as he was entirely alone as this week’s worst with no one else particularly close.

Elsewhere in the Central Division, in a bit of a surprise showing, it would be Kevin Lankinen with the highest GSAx. A mark of 3.02 GSAx on a gargantuan 48-save effort on 49 shots faced earned him a big win.

Arvid Soderblom was the busiest goaltender in terms of shots faced with 116 over four appearances and his GSAx mark of -1.22 isn’t all too bad considering his volume and workload.

Metropolitan Division goaltenders

More new names at the top were also seen in the Metropolitan Division (and this is also in part due to Ilya Sorokin not being there this week).

Tristan Jarry and Joonas Korpisalo were both up there, albeing not by a large margin. Similar to the Pacific Division, the Metro was tightly packed with no goalies above 5.0 or below -5.0 GSAx.

However, the biggest surprise of all was that Sorokin somehow found himself at the bottom of the division this week. It wasn’t a bad performance by any means as he had -2.04 GSAx on 47 shots against, but it was just that literally everyone else had a better seven days.

Coincidentally, one of the goalies that had a better week was his partner Semyon Varlamov, who had 2.22 GSAx on just 21 shots faced. One goalie that struggled in the division was Antti Raanta, who had one appearance and was pulled after allowing three goals on 15 shots. His GSAx was a -1.73.

Atlantic Division goaltenders

The best goalie—or rather—goalies of the week came out of the Atlantic Division. Matt Murray led the league and was the only goalie to break the 5.0 GSAx threshold w ith 5.81.

Not far behind him was Ville Huuso with 4.27 and Anton Forsberg with 3.44. The trio had the three top GSAx performances with varying workloads. As seen based on the colours of the plot, Huuso was the busiest with 104 shots faced, followed by Murray with 77. Forsberg actually accumuated a fairly large GSAx total despite a low workload of just 51 shots faced.

Quite a lot of variance in tandems in the Atlantic also caused the sporadic distribution in the plot. Five out of eight teams had one goalie positive and one goalie negative to varying degrees.

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

On the season, the Pacific Division is still skewed toward the negative. While Skinner is still the best goalie in the Pacific right now, he’s not putting up big enough performances to stretch his lead. Thompson isn’t far behind and a new face has entered the race in Daniel Vladar.

Vladar has work ahead of him if he hopes to catch the two ahead of him, but it’s not entirely out of the question as the Flames have leaned on him more consistently over the past few games.

On the other end of the spectrum, Thatcher Demko will remain one of the Pacific’s worst for the foreseeable future as he’s out with an injury. That said, he’s not the outright worst goalie in the division right now as that would actually be Campbell. Campbell sits with a -13.09 GSAx on the season compared to Demko’s -13.02. Both of them actually own the worst GSAx in the whole league.

Central Division goaltenders

Once again, we arrive at the weekly praise for Connor Hellebuyck—and it is absolutely earned. He had a great week to boost his GSAx totals and due to Sorokin’s off-week, Hellebuyck now has the best GSAx in the NHL with 18.52. He’s looking to pass the 20.0 GSAx mark soon enough.

Elsewhere in the Central—far below the likes of Hellebuyck—names like Karel Vejmelka and Jake Oettinger have been staples in the division’s second tier of good goalies. The Nashville Predators have a good shot of having at least one of their goalies join that cohort in a consistent basis if one of Juuse Saros or Lankinen can keep their pace of recent play going.

Binnington’s rough week did major damage to his GSAx as he sits at the bottom of the division now, but he’s not too far behind Petr Mrazek or Marc-Andre Fleury.

Metropolitan Division goaltenders

As mentioned, Sorokin’s negative week pulled him down, but he’s still miles ahead of every other goaltender not named Hellebuyck. It’ll be a race between the two to see who cracks 20.0 GSAx first and it can realistically happen as soon as next week.

Some other names of interest include Carter Hart, whose goaltending has taken a step back compared to the start of the season. Like the Central’s “second tier” of goalies behind Hellebuyck, Hart finds himself in the Metro’s second tier of good goalies that don’t hold a candle to Sorokin now.

That said, the second tier consists of some good goalies too, including Vitek Vanecek, Darcy Kuemper, and Varlamov. This group can maybe even see Akira Schmid or Pyotr Kochetkov join once they play more games. Interestingly, reigning Vezina winner Igor Shesterkin hasn’t been too hot this season.

Atlantic Division goaltenders

The Atlantic Division has been steadily led by Linus Ullmark for quite some time now, but finally a new name joins him. Murray and Ullmark now lead the Atlantic, with both goalies just cracking the 10.0 GSAx mark.

A good number of goalies have GSAx values pretty close to zero in the Atlantic, and that includes goalies with higher workloads like Jake Allen and Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Lastly, Alex Nedeljkovic has the worst GSAx in the division with -9.14, which starkly contrasts Husso’s GSAx of 6.28.

Turning tides in the blue paint

Goaltending races with the league, divisions, and even in teams have firmly formed when looking at GSAx. With each passing week, there’s bound to be plenty change happening, but by now there are clearly different echelons for goaltending quality.

We’ll see how the next few weeks pan out as the calendar switches over to 2023, but one thing is certain: there’s never a shortage of goaltending action.

Check out the past GSAx charts here.

Week 1 | W2 | W3 | W4 | W5 | W6 | W7

Want to go to the next game? Take advantage of this exclusive SeatGeek code for $20 off! Use the promo code “WINCOLUMNCGY” when you checkout!

Back to top button