Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth: Who you got?

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.

Varly Neuvy
Period SCA GA Sv% SCA GA Sv%
1 41 2 0.951 124 23 0.815
2 62 12 0.806 120 16 0.867
3 43 10 0.767 107 19 0.822
OT 4 1 0.750 8 0 1.000

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.

Advantage: Neuvirth

How about during even strength and on the penalty kill?

Varly Neuvy
Strength SCA GA Sv% SCA GA Sv%
EV 112 16 0.857 274 44 0.839
SH 29 8 0.724 68 12 0.824

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.

Advantage: Neuvirth

Finally, how does each play to the score?

Varly Neuvy
Score SCA GA Sv% SCA GA Sv%
Tied 59 5 0.915 126 24 0.810
Lead 41 6 0.854 138 24 0.826
Trailing 46 14 0.696 95 10 0.895

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.

Advantage: Neuvirth

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?

  • Tim

    This backs up what I’ve been saying – go with Neuvy. Neuvy is much better at getting into a strong position, which lets him make more of the tough saves. If Varly could learn to do that, he would be incredible. Plus, there’s the issue of #brittlegroin.

  • Mark

    Letting Jose go in the off season, the Caps put themselves in the position of having only the youngest of goalies to call on in the ’10/11 season. Neuvy unexpectedly is taking Varly’s top spot away from him. Who knows if Varly’s injury really has affected his performance as much as it appears. We all know, the Caps sloppy neutral ice play and overall mediocre defense puts any guy we put in net under unfair fire. Neuvy has been that hero so far.

  • Brad

    If it were the playoffs I’d say Varly but i think Neuvy is playing better right now. The only knock on Neuvy is he leaves some juicy rebounds

  • CDizz

    Perreault gets a goal and a broken nose. Good stuff

  • Avtopilot

    Yes, Neuvy is #1. But let’s wait for the spring.
    Varly was affected by injury – so his stats are not his best at all.
    At the same time i don’t like the reason for Varly to be in the lineup – Neuvy’s being sick. It happens quite often recently.

  • AjaxDesperados

    If you forget about MSG Nightmare I am sure Varly get #1 in most of theese ratings. And 11 games are not enough to say Neuvy is better. You’ll see Varly is the BEST Caps goaltender.

  • #TeamNuevy

  • Boush

    With this Caps team, and the way they’ve been playing, I’m still going to go with Varly. He is stone-cold in the first period, while Neuvy has shown a Theodore-esque tendency to put the team in a hole early on. Knowing our boys, isn’t it more than likely that their defense in front of Varly breaks down when they’ve built a lead in the first as opposed to having to dig themselves out of a hole when they have Neuvirth in net?

  • Paul

    Varly is far more athletic than Neuvy but his style requires it. Neuvirth seems to have much better positioning than Varly. Also, hands down Neuvirth has much better rebound control. Team Neuvy all the way!

  • Evan

    Still too soon to tell, but I’m for Nevy thus far.

  • AjaxDesperados

    And now? )

  • Allie

    Hmm, well as of the last two games, its harder to pick because of how well Varly’s played… come on I mean, a shut out against the team we lost to in the playoffs!