After a day of listening to irate callers on the Team 1040 today and receiving some nice feedback on my blog from yesterday’s article ‘Why Everyone Hates Luongo’, I think it would be interesting to take a closer look at Roberto Luongo, by the numbers. Everyone has their opinion on Luongo, and there are a whole lot of misconceptions. Some fans believe that Luongo stunk last year (despite an appearance in game 7 of the final, a bunch of playoff shutouts, a Vezina nomination and a Jennings trophy), which is clearly not accurate. But was he great last year? Average? Is he terrible this year? Is he playing like he always plays in October? Lets answer those questions.
The most important stat for goaltenders is save percentage. Goals against average gets a lot of play, as do wins, but they are far more dependent on the team in front of you than the save percentage stat. That’s not to say that save percentage is a flawless stat. It can be skewed if you’re on a defensive team that only allows shots from far away or if you’re on a team that allows a lot of breakaways and odd man rushes.
In my opinion, an excellent season for Roberto Luongo is if he ranks in the top three in save percentage among starting goalies. A good season is if he ranks in the top 10, an average to below average season is if he ranks 10-20 and a bad season is if he ranks 20-30.
Save Percentage – Regular Season with Vancouver
2006-07: .921 (rank among starting goalies: 3rd)
2007-08: .917 (rank among starting goalies: 13th)
2008-09: .920 (rank among starting goalies: 5th)
2009-10: .913 (rank among starting goalies: 15th)
2010-11: .928 (rank among starting goalies: 3rd)
Quite simply, Roberto Luongo has been a reliable number one goalie. His numbers have been consistently good and he has been one of the best goalies in the league year after year.
So should fans be worried about his poor start to this season or should they be comforted in the fact that he always has a slow start? Lets look at the numbers.
Save Percentage – First Four Starts or the Regular Season with Vancouver
So the notion that Luongo always has a slow start is somewhat true (although not so slow in 2010 and 2006), but he has never had a worse save percentage through the first four games. I don’t think that fans should be alarmed by his start, but it’s not completely par for the course.
Luongo’s regular season numbers always end up being very good, but his playoff numbers have not been quite so sparkling. When looking at starting goalie rankings, remember that only sixteen starting goalies make the playoffs.
Save Percentage – Playoffs with Vancouver
2006-07: .941 (rank among starting goalies: 2nd)
2007-08: did not make playoffs
2008-09: .914 (rank among starting goalies: 9th)
2009-10: .895 (rank among starting goalies: 12th)
2010-11: .914 (rank among starting goalies: 8th)
Analyzing those stats, one can come to the conclusion that Luongo has been average when it comes to the postseason (other than the 2006-07 playoffs when he was spectacular).
But what about last year’s playoffs in particular? Was he good? Bad? Somewhere in between?
Save Percentage – 2011 Playoffs
vs Chicago: .903
vs Nashville: .933
vs San Jose: .931
vs Boston: .891
These numbers aren’t surprising to look at. Luongo was great against Nashville and San Jose (particularly San Jose, because they have a lot of fire power) but was average to below average against Chicago and Boston. Of course that doesn’t tell the whole story against Boston though.
Save Percentage – 2011 Playoffs vs Boston
Game 1: 1.000
Game 2: .933
Game 3: .789
Game 4: .800
Game 5: 1.000
Game 6: .625
Game 7: .850
Luongo was terrible in three games, spectacular in three games and below average in game 7.
So what conclusion can we come to with all of these numbers? We can come to the conclusion that Luongo can be relied upon in the regular season but he has been inconsistent in the playoffs. He has had great playoff moments and forgettable ones. And for that, he deserves some criticism. I have no trouble with fans criticizing Luongo, but before you do so, get your facts straight.