There’s a lot of back and forth between “We should have had Antti Raanta in net” and “We should have had Corey Crawford in net!” with this idea that one could out-perform the other against certain teams (This, admittedly, usually doesn’t occur until there’s a loss for the evening). But is there some merit to the theory?
Without the ability of literal replication of scenarios, the best we can do is compare the two and make an educated guess. We had previously taken a look at Corey Crawford‘s net presence in this post, but after receiving a few follow up questions regarding just how Antti Raanta differs from Crawford (or, if he even does), I thought it might be fun to take a look at the two.
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Because Raanta has quite a lot less time on ice per season than Crawford, I had to expand the scope of his stats to include previous seasons (As of this point in the season, Crawford has played in 38 games, and Raanta has a 38-game NHL career). You can find a full chart of the stats used throughout this article to compare the two under Resources at the end of this article.
So let’s start by looking at the two most important styles of play for a goaltender: Even strength and shorthanded (The penalty kill).
Charts courtesy war-on-ice
We can tell from the above that Raanta has an average low-danger save percentage, and an average high-danger, with a lower than average medium-danger save percentage. Crawford, in comparison, has had an average low and medium-danger save percentage, and a lower than average high-danger. But, as we talked about before, the save percentage per area only gains significance from what percentage of shots faced come from the area. So I compiled some handy pie-charts to help visualize just what this looks like.
You can see they both face a similar percentage of total shots against from each location. This is, as previously discussed, due in-part to the Chicago Blackhawks’ defensive style of play. 70.78% of Crawford’s total shots against come from locations in which he is at least performing at league average. Raanta faces about 73.34% of his shots from these locations. From this alone it would seem that Raanta is performing up to standards overall.
So when would you choose one over the other?
When looking at their save percentages, it becomes apparent that teams that are more successful offensively against the Chicago Blackhawks and are able to get past the low-danger areas and into the medium-danger areas, Crawford is the better choice in net with a save percentage for that area of 93.28%, compared to Raanta’s 90.55%.
HOW THIS PLAYS OUT
A perfect way to test this is to compare save percentages against a predetermined amount of shots against. I chose Crawford’s numbers by zone, and applied Raanta’s save percentages to them. In the Low-danger area, Crawford faced 382 SA and allowed 6 goals. Under those same 382 SA, Raanta’s numbers would afford him 10 Goals against.
In the Medium-danger area, Crawford faced 238 SA and allowed 16 goals. Raanta would allow 22 goals. In the high-danger area, Crawford faced 256 SA and allowed 45 goals. Raanta would allow 43 goals. In total, Crawford would have 67 goals against, Raanta 75.
Some teams that Raanta might be better suited to face, based on their overall shooting percentage from, as well as shot rate for, these areas: Philadelphia Flyers, Minnesota Wild and the Vancouver Canucks.
Charts courtesy war-on-ice and current as of 17 February 2015
Here’s where it gets sort of weird. Based on the charts above, you might assume that Raanta would be better equipped for the penalty-kill, and want to put him in against teams you imagine you’d take a lot of penalties against (Like the Winnipeg Jets, for example). But when you look at the percentage of shots taken against either goaltender in the medium-danger areas during the penalty kill, you’ll see why this isn’t the case.
Raanta and Crawford face an average of 21.4% of their shots from this area during the penalty kill (Raanta 21.59%, Crawford 21.21%). What this means is that a little over 1 in 5 shots originate from the medium-danger area, and although Raanta’s save percentage is quite impressive here at 97.37% (Crawford is 89.29%), the low percentage of shots yielded from here do not outweigh deficits in the other two areas.
HOW THIS PLAYS OUT
Let’s look at a hypothetical lab to test this. The Chicago Blackhawks have faced 149 penalty kills with an 87.9% success rate (18 GA). Collectively they have faced 228 shots during this time, with 113 originating from Low-danger areas (49.56%), 46 from Medium-danger (20.18%) and 69 from High-danger (30.26%).
Assuming Raanta’s save percentages were to hold true, facing the 228 shots himself would result in 8 GA scored from Low-danger areas, 1 from Medium-danger and 13 from High-danger areas, for a total of 22 GA (85.2% success). In comparison, Crawford would be looking at 4 GA from Low-danger, 5 from Medium-danger and 11 from High-danger for a total of 20 GA (86.6% success) from those same 228 shots.
The difference may seem negligible, until you consider that often times there is a one-goal differential between the winning and losing team in a game.
Stats courtesy war-on-ice and current as of 17 February 2015
(1) Goal Zones as defined by war-on-ice
Stats and charts courtesy of war-on-ice.com