Sunday, March 13, 2011

No Need For a Veteran in Net

Why do people say teams need veteran presence in the playoffs, especially in net?
  1. Fans see some inexperienced goalies falter, mistakes that are magnified in the small sample that is a playoff series, leading to confirmation bias of the cliche that you need veterans.
  2. Goalies collapse under playoff pressure.
To the first, I say this: whether or not a goalie is on a hot or cold streak, his expected level of performance in his next game is his true talent level, adjusted for shot and shooter quality. That is, pretty much his save percentage over about the last thousand shots or so (unless the goalie has really improved, like Ward and Fleury this season).

Regardless, some goalies do go on hot streaks. Inexperienced goalies don't have enough of a sample of shots faced to tell us their true talent level, so whenever a coach finds one (Reimer, for example, or Varlamov 2009), he runs with him. The dude usually ends up being nothing special. The playoff letdown, then, is nothing other than an end to the hot streak. And keep in mind that goalie hot streaks can extend over an entire season.

To the second, every player nowadays is plenty experienced--peewee championships in all likelihood, and for most notables, world junior championships too. The WJC < Stanley Cup Playoffs, but that international stage is pretty huge nonetheless. It's a very rare guy that collapses or excels (more than normal) under pressure, and for goalies, at least, it's not like we can tell the difference.

Have confidence in Varlavirthby. They're one of three reasons I can still be hopeful for these playoffs.

1 comment:

  1. No doubt the three youngsters are a major reason the Caps are where they are and there's no doubt more than one will be used in the playoffs if for no other reason than the injury woes of Varly and Neuvy. I do, however, feel the Caps will have to straighten out the first period doldrums to keep any early chances from the opposition of low quality. As has often been said by veterans, the playoffs are a mental game and often it's played within your own mind.