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NHL Goalie Statistics for 2011-2012 Summary by Country

NHL Goalie Statistics for 2011-2012 Summary by Country
Braden Holtby

One reader added a comment to yesterday's guest post saying "add Holtby to the list" of NHL starters. Braden Holtby is just one of the 42 Canadians who have played goal in the NHL this season. Scott Slingsby Photo.

Yesterday’s guest post by Jeff Hall got a few people fired up saying it was too pro-American or simply opinion backed by no statistical evidence. We were hoping it would create some conversation – and loved the comment by Paul who wrote, “Who cares? They are all great goalies and we love goalies, right?”

Well, yes! This is a goaltending publication and great goaltending knows no national boundaries. Still, looking at success by country – or as JT noted, by developmental league – is an entertaining exercise and may yield some insight into who is doing the best job of developing goalies. Of course as soon as you ask who is “best” or what success is in developing goalies (NHL goalies? International? Minor Hockey?) that opens up another huge area for debate.

You can look at Mr. Hall’s article and decide based on his “top 6” approach that the Finnish system is the best – but Canada placed five times as many goalies in the NHL this season – what does that say? A key component of development is getting more athletes in the system, yet the Finnish coaches are supremely successful in developing the smaller number of goaltenders that they have.

As a follow-up we  present here some basic statistical summaries from NHL goalies this season, grouped by country. Draw what conclusions you will. Yes, we know a sample size of one for two countries (Germany, Switzerland) is meaningless, and including goalies who played only a few minutes is open to interpretation.

Have a look and let us know what it means to you and what else you might like to see from the data in the comments section below.





About The Author

David Hutchison

David is one of the founders of InGoal Magazine which he began in 2009. Of course he finds time for some goaltending of his own as well, and despite his age, clings desperately to the idea that some NHL team will call him to play for them - though in his mid-forties (OK, late 40s) it'll likely be for a practice when everyone else on their depth chart has the flu and the shooter tutor has gone in for repairs.


  1. Dan Anderson

    Looking at the numbers, there really isn’t that much separation between the countries. The only variation is in the GAA and even that is pretty small

  2. BeninLondon

    That is very interesting to see how each country fares from a statistical point, even with somewhat skewed data (few goalies, few games etc.).
    There are so many factors to look at and things to consider when judging a country or system as the “best”. I have no idea which is better between putting more goalies into the NHL or developing more top tiered elite goalies in the NHL. Ideally it would be nice for any country to develop both.
    In my opinion a huge factor to also consider is where in the career path the goalies are. Looking at it from a top six approach Canada would leave out a future hall of famer and arguably the best goaltender ever in Brodeur, if that doesn’t skew the results a little bit.
    These stats would be a very interesting thing to see over a 10+ year period. Track on a graph how each country fairs in the categories and that way you could spot trends and make a better judgement on how programs are progressing and regressing.
    I wish I had the time to compile all those stats and take a look as it has me curious.

  3. Matt

    Just for curiosity’s sake I took the top 5 statistical leaders for both GAA and Save % and averaged out the values. The results are very promising for Canadians, such as myself, in that our goalies lead both categories. The US is not far behind and Finland lags slightly. Of course, the credentials I decided upon for eligibility were a minimum of 25 games played (starting goalies statistical minimum) meaning that certain Finnish goaltenders i.e. Rask are not eligible. With this 20 minute home study, however, I must conclude that Canadian goaltending, contrary to what is preached here, is as strong as it has ever been.

  4. Paul Szabo

    The data that I think would add another point of discussion to this debate would be to include the country’s population and its population of minor hockey players. In that regard, Finland and Sweden would take a huge leap forward in the rankings for the number of goalies they placed in the NHL.

  5. Ray C

    In the bigger picture of individual goalie stats, I think we need a new stat:

    Shots per goal. Essentially (total shots)/ (total goals) It would tell us for every goal a goalie lets in, how many shots he faced. I think it would be a better stat than save percentage or goals against. It makles for an interesting look at goalie tandems who have the same D in front of them. (In fact I think you’d have to up the numb of games a goalie would have to play to qualify for eg.g many backups are higher up than the starter, perhaps cuase they faced weaker teams.) As an example for the regular season for instance you get (more than 30 games played but not an inclusive list of all those 30+games):

    Player Team Shots PPG
    Brian Elliott STL 16.75862069
    Cory Schneider VAN 15.75
    Mike Smith PHX 14.34722222
    Henrik Lundqvist NYR 14.25203252
    Tuukka Rask BOS 14.11363636
    Jonathan Quick LAK 14.0075188
    Jaroslav Halak STL 13.45555556
    Pekka Rinne NSH 12.96987952
    Matt Hackett MIN 12.81818182
    Kari Lehtonen DAL 12.78676471
    Miikka Kiprusoff CGY 12.59259259
    Jimmy Howard DET 12.57142857
    Tim Thomas BOS 12.56818182
    Allen York CBJ 12.4375
    Roberto Luongo VAN 12.41732283
    JS Giguere COL 12.31884058
    Johan Hedberg NJD 12.16949153
    Thomas Greiss SJS 11.8
    Marc-Andre Fleur PIT 11.55555556
    Jonathan Bernier LAK 10.94285714
    Martin Brodeur NJD 10.82352941