Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Stat Check: How far in front of the NHL is Leclaire?

With his fifth shutout this season happening on Sunday against the St. Louis Blues, Pascal Leclaire is the standout among NHL goalies. Here's a look at his stats in comparison to other top goaltenders.

Goals Against Average
Leclaire's league-leading GAA is an unbelievable 1.12. A number like that is completely unprecedented by Leclaire. By comparison, he managed a 2.97 GAA last season in 24 games played. When compared to others in the league this season, only the top eight netminders have a GAA lower than 2 and only the top four are below 1.5. The best GAA last season was Niklas Backstrom (MIN) with 1.97.

Save Percentage
Leclaire leads the NHL in save percentage as well, if by only half of a percent. His current Sv% is .957, ahead of Dan Ellis of Nashville at .952. Leclaires 06-07 Sv% was .897, which means he blocked roughly 1 in 10 shots. Currently he's letting by less than 1 in 20. Last year's best was Backstrom with .929.

Five is just enough to put Leclaire in the number one spot. Henrik Lundqvist (NYR) is right behind Pascal with four and is keeping a good pace. Worth noting, however, is the fact that Lundqvist has played fourteen games to Leclaire's nine. At Leclaire's pace, he has a 55% chance of shutting out the other team every time he starts. Last year, the top shutout goalie was Martin Brodeur who amassed 12 shutouts in 78 games played.

At his current pace, Leclaire is arguably the best goaltender in the league. He and Lundqvist may continue to duke it out until injuries, a hot streak, or a downward spiral separates them from the top of the rankings. With a pair of crossed fingers, Leclaire may make it through the rest of the season injury free.

Stats from http://www.nhl.com/nhlstats/app and http://www.hockeydb.com
Photo from NHL.com

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