Earlier in the week we looked at how the Caps stacked up against the Leafs in terms of 5-on-5 play. Today, we’re looking at goaltending.
The Caps are going to have the advantage in goal in just about any series they play. Braden Hotlby won the Vezina last season and he should be a finalist again this season. He also has the best playoff save percentage in the history of the NHL. Translation: He’s one of the best.
Holtby’s counterpart in net will be Frederik Andersen. Andersen was drafted in the third round of the 2012 draft by the Ducks and had played his entire career for Anaheim until being traded to the Leafs last offseason. The Leafs immediately made him “the guy” in goal, as he was signed to a five-year deal and appeared in 66 games this season.
Andersen’s career high in save percentage is 91.9 percent, which he posted last season in Anaheim. Holtby has had just one season with a save percentage below 92.0, a 91.5 save percentage during the 2013-14 season.
Let’s take a deeper look at each goalie, shall we?
Here’s how each guy did stopping pucks at 5-on-5 this season:
|Goalie||5-on-5 Save % (NHL rank)|
*Rank is among goalies with 1,500-plus 5-on-5 minutes
The 5-on-5 save percentage shows us what we already know: Holtby is the better goalie. And, while it would be correct to point out that a difference of one percentage point isn’t a huge spread, if Holtby can maintain his edge over Andersen in the series, it’s the type of edge that can make a difference in the playoffs.
Here’s a look at each goalie’s rolling 20-game 5-on-5 save percentage, via Corsica:
Well, well, well, isn’t that interesting? Over his last 20 games of the season, Andersen went on a bit of a run, posting a 93.7 save percentage. To put this in perspective, if Andersen posted this save percentage over the entire season (easier said than done), he’d finish second only to Craig Anderson in 5-on-5 save percentage.
That last graph may have some of you thinking “Oh man, are we about to get Halak’d by some goalie who got hot at the end of the season?” The answer to this is…you know what, let’s stop.
Instead of digging deeper into this analysis, let’s remember the facts. Braden Holtby is one of the best goalies in the league, if not the best. He’s a better goalie than Frederik Andersen. This doesn’t guarantee Holtby will be the better goalie in this series, but there’s not a person on the face of this earth who would prefer having Andersen in net over Holtby.
So, rest easy, Caps fans. We’ve got the better goalie. And plus, he’s really handsome.
Crash the net. Let’s go Caps.
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