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Howard Berger Thinks Toskala Is Playing "Ok"

From Howard Berger:

Toskala doesn’t bring the complete package. He’s been just a step above mediocre during the first third of this season, and is providing no indication that he’ll be — as widely expected — the most valuable performer on the hockey club.

A step above mediocre? This is going to take some work, click through the jump for some stats.

I took all of the data on goaltenders from TSN and made a spreadsheet containing 67 goalies. I kept only goaltenders who have played more than 500 minutes so far this season, which left me with 45. Vesa Toskala is 3rd in time played with 1,350 minutes, behind only Lundqvist and Kiprusoff.

What does mediocre mean? To me, mediocre would be slightly below average. Toskala is a #1 starter, so "average" should be whoever's #15 out of 30 amongst starting goaltenders. It's hard to rank goaltenders qualitatively, but let's use save percentage, since GAA is mostly meaningless. (A goalie who has a .900 SV% has a GAA of 1 if he sees 10 shots a game, or a GAA of 5.00 if he sees fifty. Who's the better goaltender? Probably the one facing more rubber.)

If we sort by save percentage, Vesa Toskala comes in 41st out of 45 goaltenders in this comparison. I'd like to plot save percentages on a histogram to point out how bad Toskala is. A histogram basically tells us how many goaltenders have a save percentage in a certain range.


Toskala would be in the 0.88 bin. This histogram shows us that the gross majority of NHL starting goaltenders (and 16 backups) have save percentages ranging from 0.92 to 0.90. That's the mediocre range. A save percentage of around .910 is average, .920 is a little better than average, and .900 is a little behind the curve.

Saying Toskala has been "slighty above mediocre" is like saying that Howard Berger is a "slightly above mediocre" pundit; completely untrue and not because they're both great at their jobs.