Islanders goaltenders: Who faced what, what'll they face now?

It's been mentioned a few times by commenters here that Martin Biron and Dwayne Roloson are familiar with the fire they'll be thrown into on Long Island, thanks to their heavy per-game workloads with the Flyers and Oilers last season. They had very similar shots faced per game, similar save percentages, and similar GAAs to one another. But (more on this later) their performance while killing opponents' power plays differed in interesting ways.

Compared to those two, Joey MacDonald actually faced more shots per 60 minutes, gave up more goals, and made fewer saves, while Yann Danis actually faced fewer shots per 60 than the two imports -- yet still gave up more goals and made fewer saves. That Danis's numbers were better than MacDonald's is definitely a result of him performing better -- his rebounds weren't nearly as fat, and he actually was playing at a very good clip before slumping terribly in the final weeks.

But Danis also benefited from playing in front of a better squad, period. Over the season, the Islanders tightened up their defensive play and their young "future" core started to gel, which is why they almost climbed out of last place before the end-of-season tailspin. Certainly, Roloson and Biron's performances this year will be affected by which version of the Islanders they play behind -- and a big factor there will be the Islanders penalty kill.

To provide a little more perspective, here's how the four goalies in question fared last year, including their workload while shorthanded. Plenty of elaboration after the jump (I threw in Rick DiPietro just for grins):


2008-09 NHL
GP MIN GA GAA PPSA PPSA/60 PPGA PPSv% SAtot SA/60 SV% SO
  Roloson
63 3597 166 2.77 400 6.67 49 .878 1953 32.6 .915 1
  Biron
55 3177 146 2.76 318 6.01 32 .899 1718 32.4 .915 2
  Danis
31 1760 84 2.86 192 6.55 28 .854 933 31.8 .910 2
  MacDonald
49 2792 157 3.37 309 6.64 38 .877 1584 34.0 .901 1
  DiPietro
5 256 15 3.52 33 7.74 3 .909 139 32.6 .892 0

The four columns in the middle (PP) are specific to when killing penalties. PPSA/60 is power play shots against per 60 minutes of total ice time (so, not just PP time), to get a sense of how much their workload was affected by high-stress penalty kill time. PPSv% is their save percentage while killing penalties, while numbers including and to the right of SAtot are gross shots against/save percentage for all situations.

I excluded win-loss records to keep this table somewhat tidy. I'm more interested in gross numbers and rates, to get a better picture of what these guys faced. They say your goaltender is your "best penalty killer," so he affects your numbers most of all -- but how much you (over)work him affects his numbers, too ... which is why I wanted to dig into this.

PK Rank Times SH Rank
Flyers 83.0% 6th 393 29th
Isles 79.9% 22th 361 21th
Oilers 77.5% 27th 338 15th

Note that Biron faced by far the fewest power play shots -- theoretically the most challenging -- per 60 minutes of any of them, and not surprisingly had a higher save percentage in that situation (PPSv%). The Flyers were the second-most shorthanded team last season (393 times), yet they were able to keep their shots down with Biron on their penalty kill, and had the sixth-best PK (83%) overall. Could Biron be in for a surprise with the Islanders' weaker penalty kill, which was 22nd at 79.8%, for a squad that was the ninth-most short-handed?

Meanwhile, Edmonton was middle of the pack in number of times shorthanded, yet Roloson faced more power play shots per game than anyone else in this group (except DiPietro and his tiny sample size), and his save percentage in that situation was slightly higher than MacDonald's and far better than Danis's -- though noticeably worse than Biron's. So, Edmonton had the worst penalty kill of these three, finishing 27th, at 77.5%: Is that because Roloson was worse, or is it because they were giving up more shots on each powerplay, making Roloson's job that much tougher?

On that note, did Biron key the Flyers' PK, or did he benefit -- making Roloson the guy who is more familiar with the shooting gallery he's about to enter?

You can get lost chasing yourself in circles trying to find truth in numbers in this fluid game. Chicken or the egg? Was it the goalie that sunk the PK, or the PK that sunk the goalie, which sinks everything? One more variable: Both the Flyers and Oilers gave up seven 5-on-3 goals last season, while the Islanders gave up 8 -- so pretty similar totals, but I didn't dig into find which goalie was in net for each.

Regardless, hopefully these numbers give you a little more food for thought about the Islanders goalies this season -- and hopefully they affirm that the Isles should look better between the pipes this year.

Do they tell you anything else? Would you prefer more or different data? (Or are you just ready to drop the puck already.)

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