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Behind The Numbers

Lundqvist takes place among goalies with 20,000 saves

Numbers show where Rangers veteran, 14 others rank

by Rob Vollman / Correspondent

Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves in the New York Rangers' 3-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday, bringing his career total to 20,023.

Lundqvist became the 15th goalie to make 20,000 saves since the data was officially kept, beginning with the 1955-56 season.

Lundqvist joined Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo, Patrick Roy, Tony Esposito, Glenn Hall, Curtis Joseph, Ed Belfour, John Vanbiesbrouck, Gump Worsley, Grant Fuhr, Gilles Meloche, Sean Burke, Jacques Plante, and Nikolai Khabibulin as the only goalies with at least 20,000 saves. Among them, they have won the Vezina Trophy 27 times and seven of the 12 eligible players are in the Hockey Hockey Hall of Fame. 

But how does Lundqvist rank among the 15? 

In terms of goals-against average, his 2.33 ranks second to Brodeur (2.24), and it takes five decimal places to break the tie for first in save percentage, which Jacques Plante holds over Lundqvist, .91965 to .91958. This does not include Plante's play from 1952--55, which is prior data being kept.

Statistically, the comparisons aren't entirely fair, because these goalies played in different eras, with different rules, number of teams, equipment, and at a time when goals were scored at different rates. An average of 5.06 goals per game were scored in 1955-56, which rose to 8.02 in 1981-82, went down to 5.24 in 2001-02, and up to 6.02 so far in 2017-18. 

Video: NYR@OTT: Lundqvist denies Phaneuf for 20,000th save

There are a couple of metrics that can adjust for the different scoring rates and help compare goalies across eras. These stats confirm that Lundqvist's performance is on par with the accomplished group of 14 other goalies to reach the 20,000-save milestone.

The primary obstacle in comparing one goalie to another is how League-average save percentages have changed over the years in a fashion similar to goals-per game, from .919 in 1955-56, to .873 in 1981-82, to .915 in 2015-16. Therefore, a metric had to be developed that measures a goalie's save percentage relative to the average that season.

Inspired by the ERA-plus statistic in baseball, Cam Charron introduced save percentage-plus (SV%+) to hockey as a representation of the percentage difference between a goalie's save percentage and the League average that season. It is calculated by subtracting the League-average save percentage from one, and dividing that by one minus the goalie's save percentage, and then multiplying the result by 100. 

Lundqvist's career SV%+ is 111.7, meaning that his save percentage is 11.7 percent higher than the League average, per season. That result is slightly higher than the average of the group (109.4) and ranks sixth out of 15.

Esposito leads the group with a SV%+ of 121.0. When expanding the pool to include all goalies who have made at least 1,000 saves since 1955-56, Esposito ranks third, behind Ken Dryden, 140.0 with 10,213 saves, and Dominik Hasek, 128.0 with 18,648. Lundqvist ranks 25th.

Video: NJD@NYR: Lundqvist slides across to stone Wood

Lundqvist's success over an extended period of time has had a big impact on the New York Rangers, who have allowed the fewest goals of any team since he joined in 2005-06 season (2,421).

His own individual contributions can be measured using the Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA) metric. First introduced as Goals Over Average (GOA) by Phil Myrland in 2009, GSAA is the number of goals prevented relative to the League average. It is calculated by multiplying the League-average save percentage by the number of shots the goalie faced, and then subtracting the number of goals allowed.

From this perspective, Lundqvist's play has been worth 194.1 goals prevented relative to the League average over his career, which is in line with the average of the group (192.3). It ranks eighth in the group and 12th among all goalies since 1955-56. The overall leader is Esposito (476.7).

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