In our sport of hockey, it is common to lump shots on goal into one “basket”.  Of course, this is makes it easier to compare apples to apples (or goalie to goalie) without having to dig too deeply into any details. And, if you aren’t prepared to dig deeper, then this becomes your only means to determining a goaltender’s save efficiency.  After all, there was a shot, and the goaltender prevented it from entering the net.  Simple, right? But really, these stats are just numbers and have relatively little significance to what happened.  For example, I saw this article in our local newspaper a short time ago that a particular goaltender has a .917 save percentage and 2.62 goals-against average.  Most everyone will look at these numbers & will either agree or disagree that the numbers are good or as good as or worse than so & so goaltender.


But, as I said right off the top, not all shots are equal.  So, let’s take a closer look at shots on net.  Recorded shots (which are not terribly accurate at any level) can be from any location on the ice.  For example, it might be a clearing attempt from the opposite end of the ice, or a dump in from the neutral zone. Or it could come from any point in the defending zone (and, sometimes, even from below goal line).

And this is where things get a little tricky. Because, for a true evaluation of a goaltender’s performance every shot should carry some “weight” or quality depending on the circumstances surround the shot. For example. Does a clear-sighted shot from the perimeter (outside the scoring box) have the same degree of difficulty for the goaltender as a shot from the low slot? Is a shot from a net drive equal to a wraparound attempt?  Where does a slot line possession carry inside the scoring box stack up against a breakaway? How about a one timer from inside the scoring box where the pass crosses the slot line? How about a 2 on 1 and the puck carrier shoots? How about a 2 on 1 where the puck carrier passes & his partner shoots?  And the shot from the point with a static screen, moving screen or layered screen? Etc. Etc. By the way, we could throw in 5 on 5 shots versus penalty kill situations, but let’s not complicate things further.


It is not that easy then to evaluate a goaltender’s true performance just simply based on a save percentage (shots minus goals divided by shots)


If you are a hockey fan, this information is probably more than adequate.  But if you are a coach or recruiter or scout, you need to dive a little more deeply into the quality of shots on net to really understand just how efficient a goaltender really is. Otherwise, you might be shortchanging one goaltender over another.