Hammond and the Atlantic Goalies vs. Shot Quality

Hammond and the Atlantic Goalies vs. Shot Quality
Sean Tierney

How can Andrew Hammond‘s mind-boggling performance with the Ottawa Senators be explained?

With a 10-0-1 record, a .955 save percentage, and a 1.39 goals against average, the Hamburglar’s play has been absolutely unreal.

In the world of analytics, simple and traditional statistics don’t cut it when searching for player performance explanations.

In the past, stats like wins or shutouts were the measures relied upon to measure goalie performances. Just ask John Vanbiesbrouck, who walked home with the Vezina in 1985-86 on the strength of his league-leading 31 wins. JVB’s rate stats that season weren’t quite as impressive – an .887 save percentage (ninth best in the NHL) and a 3.32 goals against average (fifth best).

Today, even save percentage has been replaced by more sophisticated tracking. At War on Ice, adjusted save percentage offers a corrected view of goalie save rates.

As they write at War On Ice, adjusted save percentage accounts for the fact that:

NHL goaltenders do not compete on a level playing field:  In any given game, some goaltenders face many difficult, close-range shots, while others face many easy, long-range shots.  To account for this, we use “Adjusted Save Percentage”, which takes into account the “quality” of each shot they face based on the empirical league-wide shooting percentage from that area of the ice.

At WOI, the offensive zone is divided into three distinct areas based on Fenwick/USAT shooting percentage data. Basically, these zones are:

  • high-percentage: shots from the area immediately in front of the net, generally referred to as “the slot.”
  • medium-percentage: shots from the “high slot,” areas inside the faceoff dots, and the centre-point area.
  • low-percentage: shots from the right- or left-point, the half-wall, the corners, and downlow.

*if you’re a visual learner, give WOI’s blog post a read – pictures included.

Using shot data sorted into high-percentage (Sv%H), medium-percentage (Sv%M), and low-percentage (Sv%L) categories, more nuanced goalie statistics become available.

Let’s take a look at how the Atlantic Division’s goaltenders have fared facing shots of each type. Some of the results are surprising. And maybe we’ll unearth some clues about Andrew Hammond along the way.

Ranking the Atlantic Goalies

Save Percentages on Low, Medium, and High Quality Shots


Sv%L – Stopping the Easy Ones

Beating your team by allowing a softie is the worst. Just ask Ondrej Pavelec.

So how do the Atlantic Division goalies fare in stopping the low-quality shots that come from the corners, the half-walls, down low, and the right/left blue line?

Rank Name Team Sv%L
1 D Tokarski Canadiens 98.63
2 M Neuvirth Sabres (now NYI) 98.49
3 C Price Canadiens 98.23
4 T Rask Bruins 98.12
5 P Mrazek Red Wings 98.12
6 J Bernier Leafs 97.66
7 B Bishop Lightning 97.56
8 N Svedberg Bruins 97.54
9 J Howard Red Wings 97.51
10 C Anderson Senators 97.30
11 A Hammond Senators 96.85
12 J Reimer Leafs 96.70

*all data sourced from War On Ice here.

With all 12 goalies listed posting save percentages greater than .960, most of the Atlantic’s stoppers have fared well against low quality shots.

Price’s backup Dustin Tokarski and former Sabres stopgap Michal Neuvirth, both have the edge on Hart Trophy-favourite Carey Price, who ranks third on this list at a respectable .982 save percentage.

Interestingly, a handful of backups have demonstrated their ability to prevent soft goals in sporadic action. Tokarski, Petr Mrazek, and Niklas Svedberg are ranked within the top-half of the goalies with starts in the Atlantic Division this season.

Finally, although Andrew Hammond’s .969 save percentage is strong, he ranks only 11th on the list of Atlantic goalies. This suggests that his glorious run with the Senators has actually been on the strength of stronger than average save percentages on medium and high quality shots.

Sv%M – Between the Dots

Though not the most dangerous, medium quality shots coming from between the faceoff dots and in the high slot are dangerous in their own right. Making saves on these shots allows defenders to breath a little when defensive breakdowns allow penetration into the middle of the offensive zone.

Sort of like this play, when Hammond got his head into the game against the Winnipeg Jets.

Let’s take a look at the save percentage ranks for medium-quality chances:

Rank Name Team Sv%M
1 A Hammond Senators 96.97
2 T Rask Bruins 95.29
3 C Price Canadiens 95.07
4 N Svedberg Bruins 95.06
5 P Mrazek Red Wings 94.34
6 C Anderson Senators 94.31
7 J Enroth Sabres (now Dallas Stars) 94.21
8 J Bernier Leafs 93.33
9 J Howard Red Wings 92.34
10 J Reimer Leafs 91.81
11 R Luongo Panthers 91.76
12 M Neuvirth Sabres (now NYI) 91.75

*all data sourced from War On Ice here.

The best save percentage on medium quality shots would barely crack the top-12 ranks for low quality shots. That’s the difference in shot quality as you switch from one area to another in the offensive zone. Still, save percentages on shots from the high slot and the centre point appear somewhat inflated.

In this chart, Andrew Hammond rises to the top of the Atlantic. demonstrating his ability to handle moderately difficult shot attempts. Carey Price remains near the top of the rankings (3rd) and Svedberg and Mrazek (both backups) show their worth as they rank in the middle of this group ahead of Craig Anderson, Jonathan Bernier, Roberto Luongo, and Jimmy Howard.

Sv%H – The Slot

Instant, cat-like reflexes are needed to stop shots from the slot. Goalies that make saves in-close in these high-percentage situations often give their team a boost by stealing away huge goal-scoring opportunities.

Here’s an example of a strong save on a high-probability chance…and the opposite.

Rank Name Team Sv%H
1 A Hammond Senators 93.55
2 A Vasilevskiy Lightning 89.41
3 R Luongo Panthers 86.29
4 C Price Canadiens 85.93
5 M Neuvirth Sabres (now NYI) 85.79
6 C Anderson Senators 84.57
7 J Bernier Leafs 84.14
8 B Bishop Lightning 83.61
9 J Howard Red Wings 83.48
10 P Mrazek Red Wings 82.86
11 N Svedberg Bruins 82.80
12 J Enroth Sabres (now Stars) 82.53

*all data sourced from War On Ice here.

In these high-intensity situations, shooters have the advantage. All but one goalie have save percentages below .900. Though several Atlantic Division goalies manage to stop about 85 percent of shots from in close, these save percentages are much lower than fans are accustomed to seeing for the traditional save percentage stat.

The one goalie above .900 on high-percentage chances? Andrew Hammond. Leading the Atlantic Division in saves on shots from the slot, Hammond has provided the type of show-stopping saves that energize a team.

Other interesting notes from this list include the rise of rookie Andrei Vasilevskiy and veteran Roberto Luongo to the top of the charts. Both of these goalies seem to perform best against the toughest shots.

Oh, and there’s Price again – among the top-3 or -4 in any category he is measured by.

The Takeaway

By splitting shot data into shots by zone, a clearer picture of goalie performance is possible. Some goalies pad their save percentage stats on the back of low-quality shots. Other goaltenders rise to the challenge of stopping high-quality shots from the slot.

Regardless of the way the data is sliced, Carey Price is a top-ranked goalie who has been dominant this season.

For Andrew Hammond, his body of work so far shows an excellent goalie versus all three shot types with particularly strong work against medium/high quality shots. If Hammond can maintain his success, especially against high-quality shots from the high/low slot, the Senators will have the goaltending they need to sneak into the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.


What do you think, Sens fans? Does Andrew Hammond’s play pass the eye test? Or, is the Hamburglar just riding an unsustainable hot streak?

  • Sean

    May not be sustainable but heck, it sure is a fun ride for Sens fans.

Sean Tierney

Sean Tierney writes articles about Atlantic Division teams, working to include analytics whenever possible. He has also written about the Leafs, Habs, Sens, Raptors, and Blue Jays for Fansided, The Hockey Writers, and Bleacher Report. He enjoys long walks on the beach and candle lit dinners and definitely isn’t the tallest guy in the men’s rec basketball league.

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