2022–23 NHL goals saved above expected comparisons across the league: Week 10

It was a week of divergent goaltending in the NHL as two divisions did great as a whole while the other two was not so hot in the crease. Several goalies had outstanding performances while two had some pretty forgettable and regrettable showings. Let’s get into the action.

Goals saved above expected as of December 20, 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

Right away the first thing to notice is the scale this week. It spans -10.0 to 5.0 GSAx, which means at least one goaltender in the league was below -5.0 GSAx, while no goaltenders were above 5.0. Looking at the Pacific, it was not a great week. The three teams of the Los Angeles Kings, Seattle Kraken, and Anaheim Ducks were the only ones with positive outcomes. Moreover, with John Gibson sidelined and Jonathan Quick playing the role of backup, it’s the first time this season either of these teams have been high up in the division.

It’s thanks to the play of Pheonix Copley with L.A. and Lukas Dostal with Anaheim that the two teams find themselves ahead in GSAx. Further, for the Seattle Kraken, both Martin Jones and Phillip Grubauer were positive albeit to a lesser degree than the other two goalies.

Every other goaltender in the Pacific had negative GSAx, the worst of the bunch being Spencer Martin who just narrowly avoided totalling a GSAx lower than -5.0. Jacob Markstrom started all of the Calgary Flames games and he trended in the wrong direction. The San Jose Sharks, Edmonton Oilers, and Vegas Golden Knights split starts with their respective tandems and all six goalies were also negative. Yikes.

Central Division goaltenders

Things looked a lot better in the Central Division as the majority of goalies here ended up positive. However, the lone goaltender to break under the -5.0 GSAx mark hails from the division and it was Arvid Soderblom of the Chicago Blackhawks. He had the worst GSAx performance of all goalies this week.

Juuse Saros looked great as he led all goalies in the Central and was one of the best goalies of the week. That said, he was closely followed by Jordan Binnington and Jake Oettinger.

Overall it was a strong week for the Central as those who had positive GSAx did fairly well and asides from Soderblom, those who had negative GSAx weren’t far off from breakeven anyway.

Metropolitan Division goaltenders

The Metropolitan Division was one of the tightest divisions this week. The spread between the top (Pyotr Kochetkov) and bottom (Antti Raanta) wasn’t as big as other divisions.

The Columbus Blue Jackets ran with Daniil Tarasov and he ended up facing the most shots this week, facing a whopping 138 shots over four games played. He ended with a respectable GSAx that put him in the middle of the pack.

The Metro’s usual suspects of great goaltenders were true to form as Ilya Sorokin had himself another great week, as did Carter Hart and Igor Shesterkin.

Atlantic Division goaltenders

The NHL’s leading GSAx goalie this week was a first-time GSAx leader. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen led the Atlantic Division and the league in GSAx and was just shy of the 5.0 GSAx mark. Following him were Andrei Vasilevskiy, Sam Montembeault, and Sergei Bobrovsky with good weeks.

Spencer Knight, however, was among the league’s worst goalies as he gave up seven goals in one appearance and ended at nearly -5.0 GSAx. Not a good week for the NHL’s Spencers.

The Atlantic saw two teams that had one goalie do exceptionally well and the other doing exceptionally poorly, as both the Montreal Canadiens and Florida Panthers had huge differences in goaltending quality with their tandems. As a result both ended right in the middle of the pack as the goaltenders acting as the buoys cancelled out the goaltenders acting as anchors.

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 as of right now goes from -20 to 25 GSAx, widening the spread between the top and bottom.

Pacific Division goaltenders

The Pacific Division continues to have bad goaltending. For the chart to be in the range it currently is and almost every single Pacific goaltender being on the left half, it’s a huge shame for the division as a whole. Stuark Skinner even dropped a bit this week as he is back under 10.0 GSAx. Every other division has at least one goalie above the 10.0 mark.

In another comparison, the Pacific is the only division with five goalies under -10.0 GSAx. Every other division has just one.

To say the Pacific has the worst goaltending in the league right now is something most folks watching hockey games can comfortably agree with and be confident that such a statement is objectively true.

Central Division goaltenders

Connor Hellebuyck continues to be atop the Central as he added to his lead this week. He has two goaltenders distantly chasing him, but both Oettinger and Karel Vejmelka currently sit with more than 10.0 GSAx as well, making the case that the Central has some pretty strong goaltending. It wouldn’t be surprising to soon see Saros in that mix as well.

On the flip side, Petr Mrazek slightly lowered his already heavily negative GSAx total, and as mentioned his teammate Soderblom didn’t have a good week either. Because of this the Chicago Blackhawks remain distantly down in the bottom of the division.

Metropolitan Division goaltenders

Sorokin is currently the leading GSAx goalie in the NHL right now as he is above the 20.0 GSAx mark. He’s basically doubling up the next best Metro goalie as Hart is just above the 10.0 GSAx threshold and Kochetkov and Shesterkin are both just slightly under the same threshold.

Elvis Merzlikins didn’t get a chance to play as he played the role of the backup this week and was sidelined due to illness as Tarasov started and finished all of Columbus’ games. Because of that, Merzlikins remains as the league’s lowest GSAx goalie.

One of the more interesting teams right now are the New Jersey Devils. Vitek Vanecek has steadily declined in terms of GSAx while Akira Schmid is ascending. They’ll be a team to watch as their dominance on the ice can suffer from poor goaltending.

Atlantic Division goaltenders

The Atlantic Division has a unique spread of GSAx this season so far. The Boston Bruins have goalies with both positive and negative GSAx, but Linus Ullmark‘s strongly positive GSAx is enough to pull the Bruins to first in the division. On the other end, the Detroit Red Wings similarly have both positive and negative goalies, but Alex Nedeljkovic‘s negative enough to pull them down to second last.

Some teams have very similarly performing goalies, for better or for worse. The Toronto Maple Leafs’ tandem of Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov are both performing very well, as are Cam Talbot and Anton Forsberg with the Ottawa Senators. For the Florida Panthers, Bobrovsky and Knight are closely coupled except they both have negative GSAx.

Saves on saves

This week’s GSAx charts saw a healthy mix of standout goalie performances as well as goalies who are bottoming out. With teams soon approaching the halfway mark of the season, it’ll be interesting to see which direction the GSAx trends pull for each division and for the whole league.

Check out the past GSAx charts here.

Week 1 | W2 | W3 | W4 | W5 | W6 | W7 | W8 | W9

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