Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Osgood's Conn job

The longer this shutout streak goes — and it reached minute 137 last night in Detroit — the more and more it becomes likely Chris Osgood wins the 2008 Conn Smythe Trophy.

His numbers, after all, are incredible.

Fourteen netminders have won the playoff MVP since it was first handed out 43 years ago to Jean Beliveau, with only five of those winners posting a goals-against average under 2.00. Bernie Parent did it in 1975 (1.89), followed by Patrick Roy in 1986 (1.92), Mike Vernon in 1997 (1.76), Roy again in 2001 (1.70) and Jean-Sebastien Giguere five years ago (1.62).

Chris Osgood's GAA, after last night's shutout, is 1.38.

No netminder, in NHL history, has won eight playoffs games or more and posted a GAA under the 1.61 Martin Brodeur had in 2000.

Osgood's save percentage, too, is way up there at .939, better than all but three netminders have managed in postseason history among those with eight or more wins. (Giguere's .945 is the gold standard here.)

Now, there's no question Osgood's had a terrific season, the best of his career I would argue (which is interesting given he's making just $800,000 at age 35), but there's no question he's benefited in these playoffs from the fact he sees so little rubber.

Osgood has averaged just 21.3 saves per 60 minutes played in these playoffs, more than five fewer than the Penguins' Marc-Andre Fleury.

Of the 82 goaltenders who have won eight games in a single playoff season over the past 25 years, only six have had to make fewer than 21.3 saves to do so. Three times, that was Brodeur, benefiting from a super-stingy defence in front of him in 1995, 2000 and 2001 and making between 18.1 and 21.1 saves. Mike Vernon made just 18.6 in 1995 in that finals loss to the Devils, while Ed Belfour won a Cup with Dallas making 21.2.

Osgood himself, in 1996, lost in Round 3 as a starter despite having to make only 18.5 saves per game.

None of the six won the Conn Smythe.

What I'm getting at here is that there's a sort of "minimum workload" factor that plays a role in the MVP award. I've only got saves and save percentage figures as far back as the 1984 postseason, but since then, here are the eight Conn Smythe winners and their workloads:

Patrick Roy, 1986, 23.0 sv/60
Ron Hextall, 1987, 27.2 sv/60
Bill Ranford, 1990, 26.3 sv/60
Patrick Roy, 1993, 27.9 sv/60
Mike Vernon, 1997, 22.4 sv/60
Patrick Roy, 2001, 24.0 sv/60
J-S Giguere, 2003, 28.1 sv/60
Cam Ward, 2006, 24.4 sv/60

Vernon's certainly the comparable here, in more ways than one.

What the question really comes down to is, on a team dominated by defence, puck possession and strong special teams, one that allows as few shots as the Red Wings do, can the goaltender be the MVP?

Obviously Osgood can only stop what's thrown his way, but at what point are low save totals high enough to warrant the postseason's top individual honour?

At some point, you have to reward players who are putting up twice as many shots for as against, even as the man in the crease reaps the benefits.

That's this team's real strength — not goaltending.

5-on-5 shots for minus shots against per 60 mins
(Min. 12 games and prior to finals)

1 JIRI HUDLER C DET 39.4 19.2 20.2
2 BRETT LEBDA D DET 36.5 18.1 18.4
3 PAVEL DATSYUK C DET 33.2 17.4 15.8
6 CHRIS CHELIOS D DET 35.1 20 15.1
7 TOMAS PLEKANEC LW MTL 31.5 16.8 14.7
9 ANDREI KOSTITSYN RW MTL 28.9 16.3 12.6
10 MICHAEL KOMISAREK D MTL 34.6 22.8 11.8
11 BRIAN RAFALSKI D DET 32.7 21.3 11.4
12 PATRICK MARLEAU C S.J 26.7 15.6 11.1
13 NICKLAS LIDSTROM D DET 31.3 20.7 10.6
14 BRYAN SMOLINSKI C MTL 31.8 21.6 10.2
15 ALEX KOVALEV RW MTL 29.6 20.3 9.3
17 STEVE BEGIN LW MTL 31.8 22.9 8.9
18 JOE PAVELSKI LW S.J 24.6 15.8 8.8
19 ANDREI MARKOV D MTL 31.8 23 8.8
20 DOUGLAS MURRAY D S.J 29.5 21.2 8.3

Tyler Dellow did a great analysis earlier this postseason that showed that teams that out shoot opponents win more often than not, but it was far from a slam dunk. Still, the Red Wings have outshot everyone in these playoffs and you can't argue with the results.

Detroit's averaged a 36.2-23.3 edge in shots on goal and has only been outshot once in 18 games in these playoffs.

If there were records kept for such things, they'd have shattered it.


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At 7:40 a.m., May 27, 2008, Blogger J. Michael Neal said...

The best player in these playoffs apparently won't win the Conn Smythe. Who's the best player? The same guy who was the best player in the playoffs in 1997, the best player in the playoffs in 1998, and the best player in the playoffs in 2002.

When the Red Wings finish this thing off, Nick Lidstrom should be getting his fourth Conn Smythe. He won't, and I guess he's going to have to make do with just one. The awards are handed out as much for style as substance, and, as James pointed out a few days ago, Lidstrom is the most boring superstar in the world. I'll be perfectly happy to see Zetterberg win the thing, but he hasn't been the best guy on the team.

Ah, well. The fact that Lidstrom has never won a Hart Trophy says a lot more about the voters than it does about him.

At 7:45 a.m., May 27, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What says a lot about Lidstrom as well is the fact that I'm sure he isn't bothered at all about not winning the Conn Smythe - or the Hart, for that matter.

I'd like to see Zetterberg win. He provided offense in the series when they needed it, and is playing outstanding defense against Crosby when they need it in this series.

At 9:11 a.m., May 27, 2008, Blogger Leather McWhip said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 9:15 a.m., May 27, 2008, Blogger Leather McWhip said...

Last year, though Niedermayer was deserving, I felt it would've been more appropriate (though impossible) to give the Conn Smythe to the Nothing Line, whose play as a unit I thought was the real reason for Anaheim's incredible dominance.

I see a similar style of dominance in the Wings this year, and I don't think it's attributable to any one player, no matter how you examine it. This year's award should almost go to concepts more than players: to the team's poise and discipline. I've never seen anything like it--not for this kind of prolonged period. It's one of the better total team efforts I've ever seen, not one player on any line for any amount of time wavering from the game plan. Mistakes are unbelievably rare, too, and when they do happen, someone's there to rectify it before the Pens even recognize it's been made.

Maybe that's Babcock, maybe Lidstrom, I don't know. It sure is impressive. Like Anaheim last year, it'll almost be a shame to see Detroit's play reflected in the name of a single player.

At 10:06 a.m., May 27, 2008, Blogger J. Michael Neal said...

I don't think that I'd say that it's either Babcock, or Lidstrom, or anyone else specifically. It's an attitude that this team has had for more than a decade now. Scotty Bowmann helped instill it. Mike Babcock carries on his share admirably. Yzerman provided leadership to get everyone to buy in. It's a team effort.

That said, one part of the team contributes more to it than anyone else. If you have a team that's built around playing smart hockey, being in the right place at the right time, not making errors, and being there to cover for someone who does make an error, Nick Lidstrom is your guy.

I know most people think that great defensemen don't really develop until they are in their 30s. They hold Lidstrom up as one example. I guess I disagree, because I think that the finest playoff series of Lidstrom's career was the 1997 Cup finals against Philadelphia. Lidstrom and Larry Murphy set up shop inside Eric Lindros' head, and smothered the Legion of Doom with a pillow until it stopped breathing. It was the kind of performance that doesn't draw the attention that it should.

I really wish that I could find copies of those games somewhere.

At 10:07 a.m., May 27, 2008, Blogger FAUX RUMORS said...

1) In our opinion, if you exchanged goalies the results would be no different.
2) Contrast that to last year's Final when if you exchanged Giguère for Emory you'd have the Sens as the Cup winners and Ducks as runners up.
3) Osgood has played well enough, but has not been the difference/the reason for Detroit's victories. We agree with an earlier poster who mentioned Lidstrom. He does everything so well that he goes unnoticed

At 10:38 a.m., May 27, 2008, Anonymous dvc said...

Was listening to the game on the radio last night while driving back from holiday weekend festivities. I think it was well into the second period and the Pens still didn't have an even-strength shot. Not to take anything away from Osgood, who's been very good when he's needed to be, but I don't think he's the difference-maker.

I remember when Vernon got the Conn Smythe in '97. Wings thought he was so invaluable to their success that they let him sign with San Jose after that season and handed the job to a then young Osgood. Wings won another Cup with Osgood in '98, Vernon couldn't get the Sharks past the first round.

It's the Lidstroms, the Drapers, the McCartys, the Maltbys, the Holmstroms, that make this team so good. Then as now, they dominate puck possession all over the ice, something the Pens had done very effectively up to this point.

At 11:52 a.m., May 27, 2008, Blogger Hallock said...

It's a difficult call.

On one hand, Osgood is playing stellar, but I would agree he has not single-handedly stolen any games.

One could argue though, Osgood's presence in the net does indeed matter greatly, and the failure of Hasek earlier in the playoffs is a testament to the notion. His play is marked by such maturity and confidence as well.

The defense has really sharpened up in front of their netminder since Hasek's early exit though. So who can you really give it to?

Lidstrom has been strong and consistent as always, but then again Osgood is being consistent. Franzen seemed to be the run away until his concussion, Datsyuk and Zetterberg are great both offensively and defensively.

Tough decisions, it'll be interesting to see who it goes to in the end. I think we'll need to see the series play out a bit more. Being that it's only 2-0, I'm not ready to commit to someone yet, a lot can change even if it statistically does not bode well.

At 1:35 p.m., May 27, 2008, Blogger Chris said...

I agree with Hallock.

@faux rumors
If 'anybody' could be doing Osgood's job right now, why is one of the best goaltenders in NHL history sitting on the bench? Why didnt they win it last year playing the same system with the same core of players?

Don't give it to Osgood for his stats, he should get it because this team instantly 'jelled' when he replace Dom. It's just a fringe award. The Cup is the prize.

At 3:09 p.m., May 27, 2008, Blogger Chase said...

too bad osgood is a liar and a diver. it would make it a lot easier to give him the trophy if he had any class. his two dives last night were really embarrassing. does anyone think that petr sykora is seriously going to take a run at a goalie? sykora? really? give it to lidstrom, he deserves it. he's not a liar.

At 3:50 p.m., May 27, 2008, Anonymous crashtestdomi said...

Chase, Chase, Chase.....you bemoan the Osgood "dives," yet not one mention anywhere on this blog about the fact that Gary Roberts probably lost alot of face to his "Non-Pens fans" who have followed his career for years. A weak and cowardly move by someone whom I thought better of. "chris" has it right, the Conn is a part of the fringe.

BTW, maybe the Pens should pull out the tapes of the Chicago-Detroit games this season to see what the Hawks did right.

At 4:04 p.m., May 27, 2008, Blogger Hallock said...

I will admit Osgood certainly embellished Ribeiro's hit in the Dallas series, which was an understandable albeit undisciplined retaliation on his behalf for Osgood knobbing him in the mouth.

However, I'm skeptical to believe he 'dove' on both occasions, chiefly the one with Osgood and Malone.

Call him a flopper, an actor, or a liar all you want, you cannot deny he is an intelligent goaltender when it comes to positioning. With the Penguins in possession of the puck, why would Osgood jeopardize his stay of the net to potentially draw a penalty by falling down?

In the direct aftermath of the play, the Penguins fired a shot Osgood leapt at to save. Those are some risky theatrics in my opinion--opening the entire net up. It's a chance I don't think any goaltender would be willing to take. Had his supposed dive gone wrong it surely would have resulted in a goal, perhaps a change in momentum even.

This doesn't seem to be a reasonable assessment of the situation to me.

The second occasion, it seemed more like Osgood got tripped up in the netting with a gentle shove and ended up on the ground. Perhaps the shakier of the two calls, but by no means a deal-breaker. Penguins fans should worry less about the calls being made and more about the manner in which the game is being dictated to them on both ends of the rink.

At 4:16 p.m., May 27, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hasek would flop around to try and draw a call, and sometimes it resulted in a goal against for just that reason - he left the net wide open and didn't draw a penalty.

Babcock would rip him pretty good for that - he wanted his goalie to pay more attention to stopping the puck than theatrics.

At 6:24 p.m., May 27, 2008, Blogger nebcanuck said...

I think that the fact that it's a team effort that has won it suggests very much that Lidstrom should get the Conn Smythe, simply because he's the captain.

It's more symbolic than anything, much like the suggestion to give it to Babcock. Since it's a player who gets the award, not the coach, then the clear choice is the man who is seen as a symbol for the team effort. Lidstrom is a solid captain and their best player night in and night out, and to boot he never pretends he's the only reason they're winning. To give it to him would be a lot like giving it to the whole team, which is the way to go with a team effort of this caliber.

At 6:42 p.m., May 27, 2008, Blogger Joe said...

I remember back when Osgood won the cup with the wings the first time everyone said they won "in spite of him". Thats not happening this year but he isn't exactly carrying the team on his back.

I don't think its right to give it to a goalie who hasn't actually stolen a single win for his team. I think most starters (and more than a few backups) in the NHL could have Osgood's stats in front of this team.

He has played well but he isn't the team's biggest difference maker. Give it to one of the guys who is making his job easier.

At 5:56 p.m., June 04, 2008, Anonymous Mike said...

too bad osgood


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