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Breaking Down NHL Players’ “Best Goalie” Selections

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Every year, the NHLPA Players’ Poll promises us something we rarely get to see: what the players really think of their peers. The veil of anonymity ensures that, whatever other reasons might factor into players’ votes, fear of embarrassing a rival, a teammate, or even themselves, is not a concern.

Normally the poll is a welcome late-season distraction, giving everyone something to argue about as the regular season staggers to its anticlimactic conclusion. This year, of course, is very different.

This year, with nothing much hockey going on, I’ve had a lot more time to consider what the players are really saying with their votes, and why they might have made the decisions they did. Over the last month, I’ve been able to dig deep into some interesting questions. 

When it comes to goalies, why is there such a chasm between the players’ choices and those of most pundits, not to mention the players’ absolutely diametric opposition to the opinions of the advanced stats community? What are they seeing that we aren’t? In what ways are their biases different from ours? 

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