2022–23 NHL goals saved above expected comparisons across the league: Week 13

The past week of goaltending in the NHL was essentially the Juuse Saros show. Setting franchise records and making saves left, right, and centre, he was even the league’s best goalie in terms of GSAx. Let’s see how the rest of the NHL goalies fared over the past seven days.

Goals saved above expected as of January 10, 2023

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 was a bit of a wild week as seen by the plot range. The GSAx values go from -10.0 to 10 which means at least one goalie fell under -5.0 GSAx and at least one goalie had more than 5.0.

As seen in the Pacific, all goalies were relatively close. The streaking Seattle Kraken were powered by strong performances by Martin Jones (3.02 weekly GSAx) and Philipp Grubauer (0.93) to lead the division. For Anaheim, Anthony Stolarz (1.95) had himself a decent week to finish second in the division in GSAx, helping to push the Ducks to second place.

At the bottom, Spencer Martin (-2.52) and Collin Delia (-0.71) were off their game as they bottomed out the division, but it was actually Jacob Markstrom (-2.73) who had the worst GSAx in the division. That said, the Pacific didn’t have the best nor the worst week for GSAx and ended pretty tight altogether.

Central Division goaltenders

As mentioned, the Central had a brickwall named Saros (6.64) as he was one the busiest goaltenders. Facing 105 shots in just two games, he only ceded three goals in total. The only goalie with more shots faced was Alexandar Georgiev (1.18), who saw 110 shots over three full games.

Jake Oettinger (5.00) also had a very strong week too. In fact, given that he only faced 56 shots, his GSAx total was highly impressive. He made plenty of saves on high-danger chances which boosted his GSAx total. It was a light workload, but not an easy one.

A good handful of Central goalies all finished above zero in GSAx, but a few goalies struggled. The biggest surprises here are that two regularly strong goalies are at the bottom of the division. Karel Vejmelka (-3.81) and Connor Hellebuyck (-3.21) both had uncharacteristically bad weeks.

Metropolitan Division goaltenders

Last week, I specifically pointed out how the Columbus Blue Jackets had the best GSAx in the Metropolitan Division for the first time this season. And this week, they’re back at the bottom where they’ve usually resided. Elvis Merzlikins (-4.70) had a poor showing in his return, and the play of Joonas Korpisalo (0.65) was not strong enough to pull them out of the depths.

Atop the division, Vitek Vanecek (3.80) and Darcy Kuemper (3.43) had pretty solid weeks—the former being fairly busy too, facing 95 shots. Ilya Sorokin (2.18) didn’t have his best week but his still positive GSAx padded to his season lead (more on that later).

Carter Hart (-3.28) and Casey DeSmith (-3.53) had poor weeks for their teams while their respective counterparts—Samuel Ersson (3.02) and Dustin Tokarski (1.26)—were both better in their limited play.

Atlantic Division goaltenders

Finally in the Atlantic Division, the week’s worst goalie is revealed and it’s Ville Husso (-5.12). He was the only goaltender to be below -5.0 GSAx this week and it was barely just. All other goalies in the division were quite tight together—similar to the Pacific.

Aside from Husso, no goalies stood out as having great weeks in GSAx or having heavy workloads. It was all a tight group with a few above-average and a few below-average showings.

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 has extended to now span -25.0 to 25.0 GSAx. That means between the best and the worst goalie, nearly 50.0 GSAx separates them!

Pacific Division goaltenders

For the Pacific, not much has changed as it’s been Stuart Skinner (10.39 season-to-date GSAx) has been on his own for some time now. The rest of the division is a resounding “meh” as it gets worse and worse the more you look.

Among the bottom of the league, four out of the five worst GSAx goalies this season are from the Pacific (and six out of the bottom eight as well). Spencer Martin (-15.07) and Kaapo Kahkonen (-15.78) are two goalies clocking in under the -15.0 GSAx mark, but they are saved from being the worst in the league by a different goalie in another division.

Central Division goaltenders

There is plenty of drama in the season-to-date GSAx race in the Central. A position previously thought to be locked down by Hellebuyck (18.15) now sees him coming in third! At one point he was the runaway favourite to possibly lead the league in GSAx by season’s end, but his shaky play as of late now has him sitting fifth overall.

Now, the top two positions in the division belong to the two goalies who had the best weeks. Saros (19.98) and Oettinger (18.85) have swung ahead of Hellebuyck. This division is stacked with some of the best goaltending overall as three of the top five goalies in the league hail from the Central.

Outside this trio, things are a little closer for the rest of the division. Most goalies fall into the -10.0 to 10.0 GSAx band, but there’s Petr Mrazek (-13.37) on his own with one of the worst GSAx in the league.

Metropolitan Division goaltenders

We now arrive at the outlier division. The two goalies who are pushing both the maximum and minimum ranges on the season-to-date charts come out of the Metro. Sorokin (24.60) is inching closer and closer to surpassing the incredibly 25.0 GSAx threshold, whlie Merzlikins (-22.84) is plummeting every time he makes an appearance.

Sorokin’s lead in GSAx has been astounding as he’s consistently added to his totals every week. His off-weeks are far and few in between and he’s just been slowly piling GSAx onto his Vezina-worthy campaign. While he is chased by other goalies, none of them are in the same division. Kuemper (11.27) and Igor Shesterkin (9.58) are currently second and third in the division, and they are far, far away from him.

While it’s lonely at the top, it’s even lonelier at the bottom, as the gap between Merzlikins and the Metro’s next worst goalie is massive. Antti Raanta (-5.60) is the second worst goalie in the division and his GSAx isn’t even that bad.

Atlantic Division goaltenders

The meteoric rise by Linus Ullmark (19.34) now has him in contention for best GSAx, and he should be a name often heard in Vezina conversations too. He has a sizeable lead over Andrei Vasilevskiy (11.46) and no other goalies are particularly close in the Atlantic.

The spread in the Atlantic is exaggerated as Alex Nedeljkovic (-10.80) hasn’t featured in a game since December 8. With him out of the picture, all other goalies are in the -10.0 to 10.0 GSAx band. There’s a bit more variance among goalies in this division, but overall there’s nothing too crazy happening. It’s a good kind of boring for the Atlantic.

Looking down the final stretch

Yes, teams are only hitting the halfway mark of the season now, but that reality is that every passing game will have bigger playoff implications. Some goalies are the sole reason their teams are even in the playoff picture, while other struggling goalies are really making it difficult to lock down any playoff positioning at all.

Let’s see which goalies able to join the ranks at the top as consistent performers to power their team into the playoffs and which goalies may stumble and crash out of the playoff race.

Check out the past GSAx charts here.

Week 1 | W2 | W3 | W4 | W5 | W6 | W7 | W8 | W9 | W10 | W11 | W12

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