Think back to last season. The Leafs had a few problems to work through, just a few that come to mind were their penalty kill, being aggressive on the ice, winning a Game 7, and of course, goaltending. The question that often popped up when it came to their goalie situation was, will Frederik Andersen play his heart out and leave it all on the ice, or will he completely blow it up and not hold it down between the pipes. When it came to Jack Campbell, we wondered, was he ready, is he experienced enough? (Spoiler: He was!)
Now let’s look ahead to the upcoming season. Andersen signed with the Carolina Hurricanes, and the Leafs signed Petr Mrzaek to join Toronto’s new favourite, Jack Campbell. Mrazek spent most of the 2020-2021 season injured, but for the games he did play, he posted a 6-2-3 record including three shutouts. Based on those numbers, it seems hopeful, but can a Campbell-Mrazek goalie tandem really work?
It’s difficult to directly compare each goalie’s performance last season due to the shortened season, realignment of divisions, and a variety of injuries, but let’s look at some of the numbers and stats we have to figure out who these goalies are.
In the 2020-2021 season the average SV% in the NHL was 90.4%. Petr Mrazek played a total of 12 regular season games, and ended the season with an above SV% of 92.4%. When looking at the HDSV%, Mrazek saved an average of 87.1% of high danger shots. Mrazek saved more goals than the average goalie, and had a pretty average of 4.25 of high danger goals saved above average (HDGSAA). Last season, Mrazek saved an average of 4.88 goals above average (GSAA). And finally, when looking at the GSAX, Mrazek saved an average of 11.14 goals above expectation.
Frederik Andersen played a total of 24 regular season games and ended the season with a not so amazing SV% of 89.41%. Again, when looking at the HDSV%, Andersen saved an average of 81.9% of high danger shots. Andersen saved just about what was expected and had a just below average of -0.17 of high danger goals saved above average. To no one’s surprise, Andersen saved an average of -9.21 goals above average – rough, I know. And to starkly contrast Mrazek’s numbers, when looking at the GSAX, Andersen saved an average of -11.14 goals above expectation.
For argument and comparison’s sake, let’s also take a look at Jack Campbell’s stats. Campbell played a total of 22 regular season games in 2020-2021, and also ended the season with an above SV% of 91.94%. When looking at the HDSV%, Campbell saved an average of 83.2 of high danger shots. On paper, Campbell is better than the average goalie and had an average of 1.09 of high danger goals saved above average. Campbell saved an average of 6.35 goals above average. And when looking at the GSAX, Campbell saved an average of 5 goals above expectation.
The last few seasons have been anything but normal, from a pause in the regular season to a break, then a playoff bubble, then a shortened season with a change in divisions. It would great to be able to look and compare Andersen and Mrazek’s play from previous seasons, but (in my non-professional opinion) there are so many extenuating factors and changes, it will be difficult to do so.
Like I said before, it is difficult to directly compare these goalie’s performances last season due to a laundry list of reasons, but we’re trying. Just looking at the numbers alone, you can see that Mrazek is a better goalie than Andersen. He saves more than the league average, and is able to save the sneaky high danger shots – the team can depend on him when they need him the most. And it’s not to say that Andersen is a horrible goalie, but for what the Leafs need right now, Mrazek is a better fit. When looking at Mrazek and Campbell’s stats together, it looks like they’ll do well together. Mrazek has a bit more experience than Campbell and is finally healthy and ready to play. Campbell has been the hot goalie for the Leafs and has continuously played his heart out night after night for Toronto. I without a doubt believe that a Campbell-Mrazek goalie tandem can not only work for the Leafs, but take them far this season. But the next question to ask is, who starts for Leafs when the season officially (and finally) begins in a few days?