2022–23 NHL goals saved above expected comparisons across the league: Week 15

Three separate goalies had huge weeks in the crease as they amassed GSAx left, right, and centre, all finishing above the 5.0 GSAx mark. Elsewhere, things were a lot tighter with the worst performances of the week hardly being bad compared to other weeks. Let’s check out the latest in GSAx changes!

Goals saved above expected as of January 24, 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

Another week where the plots go from -5.0 GSAx to 10.0 GSAx. These types of weeks are good as they signify—as mentioned above—that a few goalies did quite well while none did horribly. A small victory for all NHL goaltenders as a group.

In the Pacific, all goalies were quite close together. Philipp Grubauer (1.52 GSAx) led the division while Pheonix Copley (-4.03) was last (in the whole league).

All other goalies Pacific fell somewhere between those two values, highlighted by Jack Campbell (0.30) and Stuart Skinner (0.29) near identical marks and also joining the Seattle Kraken as the only two Pacific teams with positive GSAx this week.

The remaining six teams had various degrees of negative GSAx, “led” by the Calgary Flames at -1.16 as a tandem and bottomed out by the Los Angeles Kings at -4.18.

Central Division goaltenders

There was a lot more variation in the Central compared to the Pacific. Both Alexandar Georgiev (5.73) and Petr Mrazek (5.53) had excellent weeks. Also, Jaxson Stauber (-0.52) made his NHL debt and earned a win for the Chicago Blackhawks.

On the lower end, Jordan Binnington (-3.95) had the division’s worst GSAx this week (and it’s not the first time this season he’s had this misfortune). He was alone as all other Central goalies who had negative GSAx finished a lot closer to expected.

Metropolitan Division goaltenders

Although no Metro goalie broke the 5.0 GSAx mark this week, three goalies still fared well with Tristan Jarry (4.29) having the division’s best performance of the week, followed by Frederik Andersen (2.94) and Vitek Vanecek (2.49).

Ilya Sorokin (0.76) allowed 12 goals against on 109 shots, yet was still able to keep his GSAx positive. The Islanders are not doing him many favours as he’s clearly facing a lot of high-danger shots and making an above-average amount of high-danger saves if he can still manage to stay above zero after a week like that.

Casey DeSmith (-2.32) had the lowest GSAx of the Metro bunch, but still stayed close enough to expected results to not crater his results.

Atlantic Division goaltenders

There was quite a big spread in the Atlantic this week. Ilya Samsonov (7.03) highlights the class with the highest GSAx in the NHL this week, while Alex Lyon (-2.86) was the week’s busiest goaltender, facing 131 shots and unfortunately letting in a weekly high in goals against with 17.

Aside from Samsonov, a good number finished with above-expected results with Linus Ullmark (3.76) continuing his stellar campaign and Sam Montembeault (3.13) following up his massive week last week with another solid performance.

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 -30.0 to 30.0 GSAx. This is the biggest span so far this season, with both 30.0 GSAx on the positive end and -30.0 GSAx on the negative end. That means among all goaltenders, at least one goalie has more than 25.0 GSAx, and another goalie has less than -25.0. That’s a massive gap of at least 50.0 GSax difference between the league’s best and worst.

Pacific Division goaltenders

The Pacific Division basically has an imaginary wall that has long prevented its goalies from breaking into the positive end. A weekly trend at this point, Skinner (10.68) stays well ahead of all other goalies while literally no one has gotten close to him.

Unfortunately for Kaapo Kahkohnen (-20.25), he’s falling below the -20.0 mark after his not-so-great week.

Central Division goaltenders

The Central’s three-headed beast continues to lead the way as their in their own league (at least within their division). Connor Hellebuyck (24.08) has the lead this week, Jake Oettinger (22.76) and Jusse Saros (21.90) follow suit.

Away from that trio, the spread between the rest of the Central’s goalies is a lot closer. For now, Georgiev (8.94) is the distant fourth place Central goalie, but as we’ve seen this season that spot is wide open and up for grabs.

Also noteworthy, the Blackhawks have now used five goalies so far this season.

Metropolitan Division goaltenders

Forgive me if I sound like a broken record every week, but Sorokin (29.93) keeps breaking his records. As discussed above, his miraculous positive GSAx week has him so ridiculously close to surpassing 30.0 GSAx.

The same point about broken records applies to Elivs Merzlikins (-25.83) as well, as he’s still somehow completely unable to buy a save. Between the two of them, the difference in GSAx is an astonishing 55.76. That’s a mind-bending difference.

Atlantic Division goaltenders

The first goalie to 25 wins this season, Linus Ullmark (23.65) spent the week padding his GSAx lead in the Atlantic as well. He’s distantly chased by Andrei Vasilevskiy (13.30), Montembeault (12.80), and Samsonov (11.97), so he has a pretty comfortable lead. Combined with his winning ways, he will likely finish as a finalist for the Vezina.

Most Atlantic goalies are doing well enough for themselves as not many of them stand out in terms of negative GSAx. The lowest GSAx still belongs to now-in-the-AHL Alex Nedeljkovic. Among active NHL goalies, Eric Comrie (-8.50) has the lowest GSAx, but calling him “active” is a bit disingenuous as he slotted in one game a couple weeks ago on January 10 after being activated off the injured reserve, with no other appearances since with the Buffalo Sabres’ net currently held by Craig Anderson (5.82) and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (-4.73).

Vying for the Vezina

GSAx is hardly the only measure used in identifying Vezina candidates or even in voting. Even then, different expected goal models will weigh each shot differently from one another. Some models may favour some goalies that other models have them falling short.

That said, GSAx can and does do a great job at highlighting goalies deserving of end-of-season praise no matter the model. It should be a race between Sorokin, Hellebuyck, Ullmark, Oettinger, and Saros.

Some other names might pop up with high votes such as Samsonov or Kochetkov, but my guess is that GSAx should be a pretty strong driver for Vezina votes.

Check out the past GSAx charts here.

Week 1 | W2 | W3 | W4 | W5 | W6 | W7 | W8 | W9 | W10 | W11 | W12 | W13 | W14

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