There has been much debate over which young netminder should be the Caps number one option, with fans pledging their allegiance to either #TeamNeuvy or #TeamVarly, but I maintain it is not even close.
Looking at the scoring chance save percentage for each goaltender in different situations shows why Neuvirth seems to have the confidence of Coach Bodreau, even when the Caps were at their worst these last few games. Remember, I use a specific definition of what I consider a scoring chance based on shot quality data and log everyone who is on the ice at the time using the script from Vic Ferrari. As always, you can find the spreadsheet online – which I finally updated. Merry Christmas!
First, let’s look at how each goaltender does throughout the game.
Pretty clear, eh? Neuvirth remains relatively steady while Varly gets progressively worse. Maybe that’s a lingering effect of #brittlegroin? Whether it is or isn’t, kinda tough to rely on Varly when the chips are down in the 3rd.
How about during even strength and on the penalty kill?
Again, the wheels on the Varlamov bus come off when things get tougher, like being a man down. They say the best penatly killer on a team has to be the goaltender. If that’s true, mark me down for Neuvirth.
Finally, how does each play to the score?
See the trend yet? Varly can play with a lead, but once the Caps trail (which seems like almost always lately) he again falls apart, while Neuvy gets better when the team is behind – giving the Caps a chance to make those heroic comebacks that spoiled us last season.
How about the ultimate pressure cooker: Caps on the PK in the 3rd, trailing by a goal. Varly has stopped only one out of his two chances in this situation. Neuvy has stopped all four of his. Small sample sizes fersure, but when that situation comes up – perhaps with more on the line than just a regular season game – who do you want in net?