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)
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.