Photo credit: Mitchell Layton
Okay, so it is another goalie post. Still here? Cool, cause nothing gets the Twitterverse popping like a Team Neuvy/Team Varly debate. Plus, there is some breaking news here on RMNB: The Greenberg Bus is now gliding along the Varly Highway. It’s no disrespect to Neuvy, as the Caps are blessed with two young, legitimately-below-average netminders, but Varly has now taken over the number one spot in my heart. How did this happen? Let me explain.
Their play has both been solid over the last few games, but it has been Varlamov who has really stepped it up, especially in the game’s first two periods.
|First 2 Periods||SCA||GA||Save%|
SCF = scoring chances for, SCA = scoring chances against, GF = goals for, GA = goals against, SC% = Percentage of scoring chances in Caps favor, Convert% = Goals scored off chances for, Save% = Goals prevented off chances against
Right out the gate, the Russian has given the Caps their best chance to win, and this includes that clunker versus the Rangers where he saw seven goals hit the twine on the night.
Now let’s look at their performance for the 3rd period and overtime, and also include games where it’s tied in the 3rd/OT or one of the teams lead by a goal in the third (“late and close”).
|3rd and OT||Late and close|
How you perform when your team is leading late in the game (up by a goal in the 3rd) is probably among the most valuable of contributions — especially when you’ve lost a few late or in OT.
|Up By One in 3rd||SCF||SCA||GF||GA||SC%||Convert%||Sv%|
I think this helps put to bed any myth that the Caps “play harder for Varly.” Both see the same number of chances go their way, and convert chances to goals at almost the same rate, but Varlamov keeps more pucks out of the net, and that’s where it counts.
Tied after two?
|Tied after 2||SCA||GA||Sv%|
Again, the Russian is showing some clutch play while Neuvirth is doing his best swiss cheese impersonation.
First occurrence of a real difference, but small sample sizes make this tough to evaluate.
Down by one goal in the 3rd?
|Down by 1 in 3rd||SCF||SCA||GF||GA||SC%||Convert%||Sv%|
Yuch. This is perhaps the situations where fans think the Caps “play harder” for Varlamov. But Varly’s is too small sample size to make any firm conclusions.
To summarize, Varlamov gives Washington the best chance to win during the first 2 periods – tied or otherwise – and when the Caps are leading in the 3rd. Keep it out of OT and it should be smooth sailing. Don’t get me wrong; I am still a fan of Neuvy, but as we head into the second half of the season I think it is time to ride Varlamov until his groin falls off. Wait, what?