Mythbusters: Start Quality Bias

Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
March 13 2014 01:30PM

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Earlier in the season, there was a lot of debate over which goalie was getting what game in net. It's faded away a bit, mostly because people are surprised to see James Reimer between the pipes at all nowadays. But I decided to take a couple of minutes to see if such a disparity actually existed, and/or currently exists.

The Method

Rather than going into deep statistics, I decided that this could be solved using a simpler concept. At first, I took every game both Bernier and James Reimer started in, figured out their opponent's position in their conference at the end of the night, and their position to day, and averaged them out. But then I realized; do the Wins and Losses really matter to goaltending? After all, they only control goals against.

What I went with instead was goals for per game, for the opponents. I skipped the "Night Of" for the first two weeks of the season because they weren't going to be anything close to accurate with samples that small.

The Tables

Jonathan Bernier

Date OPP Night Of Current DATE OPP Night Of Current
2-Oct PHI n/a 2.83 27-Dec BUF 2.31 1.98
8-Oct COL n/a 3.06 29-Dec CAR 2.33 2.51
10-Oct NSH n/a 2.42 1-Jan DET 2.6 2.65
12-Oct EDM n/a 2.52 4-Jan NYR 2.44 2.61
17-Oct CAR 2.25 2.51 7-Jan NYI 2.76 2.81
19-Oct CHI 2.88 3.41 10-Jan WSH 3.07 2.88
22-Oct ANA 3.56 3.18 12-Jan NJD 2.3 2.47
25-Oct CBJ 2.8 2.92 14-Jan BOS 2.87 3.2
30-Oct CGY 3 2.41 18-Jan MTL 2.57 2.49
8-Nov NJD 1.88 2.47 20-Jan PHX 2.88 2.79
13-Nov MIN 2.63 2.48 28-Jan TBL 2.96 2.86
15-Nov BUF 1.86 1.98 30-Jan FLA 2.44 2.38
19-Nov NYI 2.86 2.81 1-Feb OTT 2.87 2.85
21-Nov NSH 2.36 2.42 4-Feb FLA 2.45 2.38
27-Nov PIT 3 3.17 6-Feb TBL 2.88 2.86
30-Nov MTL 2.7 2.49 8-Feb VAN 2.43 2.35
5-Dec DAL 2.81 2.89 27-Feb NYI 2.77 2.81
8-Dec BOS 2.8 3.2 1-Mar MTL 2.56 2.49
11-Dec LAK 2.75 2.45 5-Mar NYR 2.6 2.61
14-Dec CHI 3.77 3.41 8-Mar PHI 2.86 2.83
16-Dec PIT 3.09 3.17 10-Mar ANA 3.2 3.18
23-Dec NYR 2.32 2.61      

James Reimer

Date OPP Night of Current DATE OPP Night Of Current
1-Oct MTL n/a 2.49 7-Dec OTT 2.87 2.85
5-Oct OTT n/a 2.85 12-Dec STL 3.53 3.28
15-Oct MIN 2.43 2.48 17-Dec FLA 2.31 2.38
26-Oct PIT 3.18 3.17 19-Dec PHX 3.12 2.79
29-Oct EDM 2.57 2.52 21-Dec DET 2.61 2.65
2-Nov VAN 2.88 2.35 9-Jan CAR 2.52 2.51
9-Nov BOS 2.81 3.2 15-Jan BUF 1.8 1.98
16-Nov BUF 1.86 1.98 21-Jan COL 2.94 3.06
23-Nov WSH 3 2.88 23-Jan DAL 2.9 2.89
25-Nov CBJ 2.58 2.92 25-Jan WPG 2.81 2.75
29-Nov BUF 1.78 1.98 3-Mar CBJ 2.95 2.92
3-Dec SJS 3.56 3.11 11-Mar SJS 3.11 3.11

The Results

For those curious about what my first attempt at this post said, teams that Bernier faces average a standings placement of 8.02 in the conference on game night, and 8.34 in the present. Reimer's opponents are 9.08 at the time, and 8.83 today.

But the actual meat of the tables I've gone with shows an even tighter gap. Teams that faced Bernier scored about 2.70 goals per game at the time, and 2.72 now. Reimer's opponents had 2.73 goals per game at the time, and 2.71 now.

The idea, at least for a while, was that James Reimer was being given games where he was destined to fail. The reality of the fact is that we're talking about a two and a half goal gap over 82 games using night-of rates, and not even a single goal using present rates.

There was an idea floating around for a while that Reimer was being stuck with more back-to-back situations as well, but the reality there is that the gap is only six to four, which is very insigificant.

The last real hope for this argument would be the rate of shots that the two actually faced from these teams. As it turns out, Reimer faces 37.07 shots per 60 minutes while Bernier faces 35.007, but that's also not a severe enough gap to phone home about. 

From a quality perspective, it seems like the goalies have been given an equal opportunity to succeed. The bigger question comes in quantity, which clearly, is still dominated by Bernier.

Photo courtesy of @markhmasters

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I bring news about the Toronto Marlies, opinions about the Toronto Maple Leafs, and a bunch of ridiculous thoughts about everything else.
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#1 Reimerfan
March 13 2014, 02:44PM
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I don't think it really matters at this point, I honestly don't think Reimer stood a chance in hell to stay as the Leafs starter, that Beriner was brought over to replace Reimer and it was never a case of it was Reimer's job to win or loose, except for maybe standing on his head at every game he played, and win alot of the games, and do some shut-outs and on and on which is an almost impossible task for anyone than he might have had a chance..But he had already lost his job as #1 in game 7 last year....you don't pay anyone almost 3,000,000 to be a back-up as he already was in LA behind Quick...so all this is mute.... Reimer is a better one on one Goalie both in a game and the shoot-outs......there's noone between the net and the player but one person and that's the goalie...Reimer has proven that time and time again...imagine if the team in front of him, was good at getting his crease cleared and if the defense would do thier job,he would be awsome....it takes the whole team playing as a team to win or loose a game, and it seems the only one playing when Reimer is goal tending is Reimer... Again he is and will always be looked on as the game 7 player who cost the lost last year and no matter what it will never change.... He's a great guy and a great player, and if he could ever gain an more aggressive side to himself he would be something to watch, because it would make for a totally different Goalie....

Anyway's there never was a 1a and 1b or you win your in.....they made it look good for a bit at the start of the pre season and a bit into the season, but reality was that Bernier was the choosen one from day one....

BUT I WILL ALWAYS STAND BEHIND REIMER AND ONE DAY YOU WILL ALL BE LOOKING OVER AT REIMER FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ICE AND AS HE LOOKS BACK AT YOU HE WILL HAVE THAT WARM SMILE ON HIS FACE AS HE AND HIS NEW TEAM WIPES THE LEAFS AND BERNIER OFF THE ICE...GO REIMER GO.....

BUT NO MATTER WHAT, IF THE LEAFS DON"T SMARTEN UP AND START PLAYING AND COMPETING AND ACTUALLY PLAY HOCKE...... IT WILL BE ANOTHER ""THERE'S ALWAYS NEXT YEAR...

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#2 Zac
March 13 2014, 04:04PM
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Great article, I could not agree more. I never fell for the arguments with regards to Bernier vs Reimer. We are Leafs fans, we will cheer them both on. Taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture, the Leafs truly have a great dynamic with both tenders. I would like to see James signed in the off season for another two or three years. I know the cap situation will come into play. We will have to wait and see what Nonis and company decide this summer. GLG!

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#3 STAN
March 13 2014, 10:51PM
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Look what's happening tonight?

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#4 Jordan
March 14 2014, 08:39AM
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Good article Jeffler, most fans realize that both goalies were given an equal opportunity. A certain segment of the fan base likes to create narratives though for the following reasons. 1) The heart of the matter is that these folks blindly hate RC and Nonis for whatever reason. 2) These folks ripped Nonis for trading for Bernier bc they are never positive about Nonis. 3) Reimer succeeding represents a validation of their arguments, and another reason to hate Nonis. 4) Bernier succeeding represents a validation of Nonis and the trade. 5) Since Bernier obviously won the starting job bc of better play, these folks need to create an excuse to somehow validate their pre-conceived bias against Nonis/Carlyle. Thus, the Reimer vs Bernier arguments are more about Nonis and Carlyle than Bernier and Reimer. 6) Most Leaf fans know both goalies are good and don't care who plays, as long as the Leafs win.

That is all.

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#5 The Last Big Bear
March 14 2014, 11:24AM
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The real take-home message for me was:

"Holy ****, the Leafs give up an absolutely retarded number of shots."

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