2022–23 NHL goals saved above expected comparisons across the league: Week 14

One NHL goalie stood out this week with an outstanding performance and it wasn’t a usual suspect. On the season, another goaltender has finally amassed over 25.0 GSAx, being the first goalie to do so. Let’s see how this week panned out in the crease.

Goals saved above expected as of January 17, 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

This week’s charts spans from -5.0 GSAx to 10.0 GSAx. This means at least one goalie recorded more than 5.0 GSAx while none recorded less than -5.0. In the Pacific Division, things were quite pedestrian as the differences between the top team in the Vegas Golden Knights (1.31 GSAx) and the bottom team the San Jose Sharks (-3.64) is quite minimal for team comparisons.

Across the whole division, no one stood out as being particularly good or bad at all. The top goalie in the division this week being Adin Hill (1.77) has him ranked 13th in the whole league. Kaapo Kahkonen (-3.00) sits 59th out of 60.

Every Pacific team used two goalies except for the Edmonton Oilers, who relied on Jack Campbell (1.27) for all four of their games. He’s won four in a row as the Oilers are looking to right the ship with their supposed starter.

Central Division goaltenders

A little more variation was seen in the Central Division as this week’s top goalies put up higher GSAx than the Pacific. In fact, four of the top five goalies this week in GSAx are all from the Central. Led by Kevin Lankinen (3.87), the next three goalies were Filip Gustavsson (3.39), Connor Hellebuyck (3.19), and Jake Oettinger (2.75).

Most goales in the Central were able to stay above zero for GSAx, as only four goalies in the division ended underwater—the lowest such total in the league this week. Scott Wedgewood (-2.93) has a weak outing as he wasn’t tested very much in terms of shot volume but still ended quite low.

Metropolitan Division goaltenders

The Metropolitan Division follows suit with also an unspectacular week. A handful of goalies were decent with positive GSAx values, and few goalies had poor showings. The division was led by Ilya Sorokin 2.52 GSAx, which by itself isn’t major, but there’s a bigger reason to applaud Sorokin. More on that in a bit.

The Washington Capitals had a rough go as a team as both Darcy Kuemper (-1.35) and Charlie Lindgren (-1.52) were near the bottom of the league as the team struggled in net and in getting into the win column. This was the first time this season the Capitals were at the bottom as they’ve gotten decent goaltending most of the time.

Atlantic Division goaltenders

There he is. The chartbreaker. Sam Montembeault (8.52) was well in a league of his own as picked up the largest GSAx total in a week so far this season. His massive GSAx total was insane as he let in just seven goals on 145 shots. He powered the Montreal Canadiens to three wins over four games and the lone loss was just a 2–1 setback. He was the busiest goalie of the week and he excelled in every aspect.

Another busy goalie this week was Sergei Bobrovsky (1.36). In fact his 136 shots against was second highest, but his GSAx was just good, not great. It wasn’t been the best season for Bobrovsky and the Florida Panthers, but stringing together a decent week when facing as many shots as he did can help build confidence. We’ll see how that pans out for the Panthers.

The week’s lowest GSAx belonged to Anton Forsberg (-4.55) as he had a bad couple of games. It’s always interesting when a week’s best and worst goalies hail from the same division, and the difference this week between the two of them is astonishing.

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 30.0 GSAx. This is the first week the plots have scaled to 30.0 GSAx for the positive side, meaning at least one goalie has finally surpassed the 25.0 GSAx threshold—absolutely incredible!

Pacific Division goaltenders

Despite not featuring in any games, Stuart Skinner (10.39) remains unchallenged with the best season-to-date GSAx in the Pacific. There’s a cohort of goalies that are toeing the breakeven line being just slightly positive or slightly negative, which over the course of a season more or less signifies average goaltending.

However, there are also some truly grimace-inducing performances too. Right now, eyes are on Kahkonen (-18.78) as his GSAx on the season is rapidly approaching -20.0. It hasn’t been the best season for the Sharks in terms of goaltending and Kahkonen’s performance—as well as James Reimer (-8.14)—has been far from inspiring as the Sharks find themselves in the depths of the standings.

Central Division goaltenders

The Central has their own three-headed dragon of top goalies as Oettinger (21.60), Hellebuyck (21.34), and Juuse Saros (20.73) are all above 20.0 GSAx. The three of them are second, third, and fourth, respectively in GSAx as they’ve consistently contributed to standings points for their teams. The neck-and-neck(-and-neck) race to the top between the trio has fluctuated throughout the season but this is the closest the three have converged so far.

Elsewhere, Karel Vejmelka (4.89) has seen a slow but consistent drop in his GSAx numbers. Previously, he had steadily increased his GSAx but it looks like his fortune has turned for the worse.

Finishing on a higher note, Gustavsson (9.14) has been a great story this season for the Minnesota Wild as his goaltending has greatly improved since being traded from the Ottawa Senators.

Metropolitan Division goaltenders

Ilya Sorokin. That’s all that needs to be said. His performance this past week puts him at a massive 27.12 GSAx. He’s more than carrying the New York Islanders. That said, his counterpart Semyon Varlamov (4.09) hasn’t been no slouch either as he still ranks in the top 20.

Reigning Vezina Trophy winner Igor Shesterkin (11.59) has been steadily climbing up in GSAx as well as he’s now second in the Metro on the season. That said, he’s closely followed by Vitek Vanecek (10.16) and Kuemper (9.93) and everything can change in a week’s time.

Elvis Merzlikins (-24.32) has steadily decreased his GSAx total with every week he features in games. It’s been a remarkably bad season for the Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender as he has not caught a break at all.

Atlantic Division goaltenders

The goalie with the best record in the league has a strong GSAx to support his body of work. Linus Ullmark (19.89) wasn’t heavily tested but he is just a smidge under 20.0 GSAx. Two goalies are well below with just about half of Ullmark’s total. The first is Andrei Vasilevskiy (10.51) whose been steady, the second is Montembeault (9.66), who basically quintupled his GSAx with the past week.

At the bottom of the division, recently waived Alex Nedeljkovic (-10.80) remains by himself as the Atlantic’s only goalie with less than -10.0 GSAx. Who knows when his next opportunity to dig himself out this hole will be.

Prepping for the All-Star break

The league is mere weeks away from the 2023 NHL All-Star Game. From a goaltending perspective, it’s clear that there are a few players who are otherworldly right now while others are facing disasters night in and night out. The NHL’s best goaltender right now being Sorokin sees him racing himself toward the 30.0 GSAx threshold, while there’s a cohort of goaltenders distantly behind while still being extremely good.

We’ll see where things go over the next week as some more questions will be answered in the world of GSAx. Will Sorokin get to 30.0? Will Merlikins drop below -25.0? Will Montembeault continue his hot streak or will he fall back down to earth? Stay tuned for the next GSAx updates.

Check out the past GSAx charts here.

Week 1 | W2 | W3 | W4 | W5 | W6 | W7 | W8 | W9 | W10 | W11 | W12 | W13

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