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Can The Golden Knights Be Blown Out Even With Fleury In Net?

During a recent Twitter war discussion about the Golden Knights’ 2017-18 roster, a comment was made stating something to the effect of “there won’t be many blowouts with Fleury between the pipes.” Immediately the skeptical writer portion of my brain fired off wondering, is that accurate? So here we are now.

It should come as no surprise that Marc-Andre Fleury has been one of hockey’s best goalies over the first 13 years of his career, but it should also not knock your socks off to hear that he’s not the player he once was and there’s a reason the Penguins were willing to part with a 2nd round pick in 2020 for the Golden Knights to select Fleury rather than Ian Cole, Bryan Rust, or anyone else they left unprotected.

From the 2010-2011 season to the 2015-16 season, Fleury’s goals against average (GAA) was 2.34. In 2016-17 it was 3.02. Over the same span, he recorded 27 shutouts in 343 starts. Last year, he had one.

SeasonGSGAASV%SV% Rank
2016-17343.02.90941st
2015-16582.29.92112th
2014-15642.32.92016th
2013-14642.37.91526th

It’s possible it was simply just a down year for a guy who was in a weird situation as the backup to a 23-year-old who stole his job and his 2nd Cup. He also started just 34 games, his lowest (by more than 20) in any non-shortened season since 2007-08 when he was 23-years-old himself.

There’s something to be said about rhythm, flow, and consistency for a goalie, and it’s something he’ll likely get a bit more of in Vegas, but last year was a significant decline for Fleury, and if he plays like that again, Calvin Pickard‘s start numbers are going to increase quickly.

Back to the blowouts thing. I like charts, so here’s another chart.

SeasonLose by 5+Lose by 4Lose by 3Lose by 1 or 2Win
2016-172541328
2015-160171735
2014-151362435
2013-141442047

As you can see, it’s kind of going to depend on how you define a blowout as to how you can answer the question. If losing by 3 is a blowout, then get ready for some blowouts. But if losing by 5 is the only way for a game to be considered out of hand, then we’re in good hands with the Flower.

By comparison, the Colorado Avalanche, who went 22-56-4 (48 points), finished in last place by over 20 points, and had a goal differential of -112, lost games by three 14 times, by four 8 times, and by five or more 4 times.

The Golden Knights roster is a lot closer to the Avs than it is to the back-to-back Stanley Cup champion Penguins, but with Fleury in net, it seems we should be safe expecting games between one and three goals rather than four and five… or nine like Colorado experienced last year.

***

There’s a really good advanced stat called Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA) that is probably the best indicator of Fleury’s decline in 2016-17, but we shall save that for an Advanced Stats For VGK Dummies article. So hang tight, it’s coming, and for the baseball fans, it’s WAR for goalies, gotta love that.

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8 Comments

  1. R.J.

    Every team can be “blown out”, no matter who they are. Should we expect our beloved Knights to get their @$$es whipped every once in a while? Yes. Every time we step on the ice? No.

    With the young guys we’ll have in the lineup, they’ll have to learn how to overcome adversity, and be able to come back with a strong game after being throttled like rag dolls. Fleury is a nice veteran presence to have in net, for when those things happen. He’s been known to come back with monster games directly after getting shelled the game before.

    I agree with you, Ken. We’l be a better team than the Avs were last year. That team was just in complete disarray. I actually don’t see much difference for them this year, either.

  2. James

    @Ken Boehlke
    ‘As you can see, it’s kind of going to depend on how you define a blowout as to how you can answer the question. If losing by 3 is a blowout, then get ready for some blowouts.’

    Losing by 3 could feel like a blowout if this team never looks like scoring. We might as well be losing by 5.

  3. Slack

    Here’s one to ponder….Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis Iginla to a one year deal. No harm, no foul. He would be able to bring a calming presence to the youth during the rough stretches. I won’t even mention leadership and character. Ha!

  4. Jeff

    There is way too much parity in the league to be blown out by any team on a regular basis. The teams are way to close talent wise.

    I am actually in the frame of mind that a ragtag set of players coming together under a great coach in a new building, new city, new fans, etc…is going to slide into the playoffs the first season and flop the second season as we build the identity of the team.

    I know I’m crazy but I really believe that.

  5. RJ

    Over/Under: in the 2017/2018 season does VGK win more games or lose more games by 3+?

  6. James

    There’s a really good advanced stat called score effects, but we shall save that for an Advanced Stats For VGK Dummies article.

    Chasing the game by pulling the goalie could lead to more loses by 3+, it also works the other way around.

    Empty net goals artificially inflate the numbers

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