Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-André Fleury has been named the NHL's number one star of the week after posting two consecutive shutouts in his last two starts, bringing his season total to the top. of the rank. eight launderings. This is an impressive number when you consider that no one in the league has more than six and only one player (Andrei Vasilevskiy of Tampa Bay) has more than five.
Combined with his all-time wins, as well as playing for a top-seeded West Conference playoff team, just in the Stanley Cup finals a year ago, he There will definitely be a Vézina Trophy for him.
But the NHL's executive directors, who vote for Vezina, have not generally paid much attention to Fleury throughout his career. What stands out from her 2018-2019 season so far is that she represents in many ways a perfect representation of her career as a whole.
He presented incredible summits, as well as incredible lows.
The simplest way to say it is: your opinion of Fleury as a candidate for the Vezina says a lot about what you are looking for in a goalkeeper; or perhaps more specifically, the way you evaluate the performance of a goalkeeper in the NHL.
Fleury has always been a goalkeeper who tends to please a large number of fans and analysts because his game has bright colors. You do not need to understand the finer points or technical details of the position to enjoy watching it play. He will make the stops and the games that appear on the clear food rolls because he is a whimsical athlete, has incredible speed and is never really out of play. He can do any backup on n ' any shot.
When everything is set up at the same time, it is able to seem unbeatable.
When everything does not work together, it may look ugly. Very ugly.
With Fleury's performance in 2018-19, you see a lot of wins and that will undoubtedly appeal to the subset "wins are the only thing that counts" in the hockey community.
But the people, we are in 2019. We should be well beyond wins to evaluate the goalkeeper's game because a lot (not all but many of them) is team dependent.
This total of victories for Fleury is mainly due to playing for a very good team that gives him a decent goal support, and to appear in more games than any other goalie in the league.
Even though it is believed that "winning is the only statistic that matters", his winning percentage of .571 is tied for fifth place among goaltenders who have played in at least 40 games. If you dig on the goalkeepers who have appeared in at least 30 games, the score will be tied for eighth place.
Again: the total wins are the volume, not necessarily the dominant and constant game.
But then you see the eight shutouts and probably think that's an example of domination. And up to a point, that's it. Eight white games in one season is a lot. It's even more impressive when it only happens in 56 games and it shows how good he can be when he's at his best.
What should emerge from this figure, however, is the fact that it has eight shutouts and that it only has a .911 save percentage for the season, a barely superior mark to the league average. It's literally the middle of the pack among NHL goaltenders. It seems almost impossible to believe that a goalkeeper with eight shutouts in a season can only have an average percentage of the league. You would think that they would be dominant.
Of the eight goalies who have recorded at least four shutouts this season, five of them have a backup percentage of at least 0.924. The only three who are not are Fleury, Sergei Bobrovsky and Mikko Koskinen. To go even further, in the history of the league, there were only eight cases where a goalkeeper had at least eight shutouts during a season and still finished with a .911 or fewer stop percentage, and a few of them came during the eras when the number of goals scored was considerably higher and the savings percentages were consistently lower than what they are today.
What this should tell us is that even though Fleury has been subject to occasional dominating performance this season, he has also played several matches without it being for him and his game has completely collapsed. on himself. Look no further than the fact that he has already played 20 games this season in which he faced at least 15 shots and recorded a save percentage of 0.890 or less.
It's tied (with Bobrovsky) for the most in the league. Now, this total (just like the total wins) is also largely due to the number of games he has actually played. More games mean more opportunities to mess up. But that still represents nearly 36% of his starts, where he has virtually left no chance for his team to win. The league average for this number is about 29%, and if you look at the goalies who have a higher percentage, it's a list of goalies who have spent pretty awful years.
(Keep in mind that when goalies face at least 15 shots and have a save percentage of .890 or less this season, their teams have won only 15% of those matches. )
All this means that every night, Vegas gets one of the best goalkeepers in the league or one of the worst. There is very rarely a ground of agreement with him.
This is what makes Vegas a total mystery in the playoffs, as their success will depend almost entirely on Marc-André Fleury's version they will get in the best of the seven series. If it is one who has the eight shutouts, they could beat any team. If it is the one who has self-destroyed and more than 35% of his starts take place, they will be in the first round.
Depending on how far this season has gone – and almost all of his career to date – no one can guess which version will be available.
PHT Power Ranking: Best Performance Under the NHL Radar
Adam Gretz is a writer for Professional Hockey Conference on NBC Sports. Leave him a line to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ AGretz.