The Washington Capitals have now completed the first 11 games (13%) of their 2022-23 schedule. As a result, it’s time we take take our first quick snapshot of how the Capitals netminding tandem of Darcy Kuemper and Charlie Lindgren are doing, so far this season.
Darcy Kuemper is 4-3-0-1 with a .922 save percentage and a 2.39 goals against average in 478 minutes on ice.
Charlie Lindgren is 1-1-0-1 with a .919 save percentage and a 3.03 goals against average in 179 minutes of ice time.
That sounds fairly decent. So where do the two sit with regards to the rest of the goaltenders in the league and in the Metropolitan Division? Let’s take a quick look:
NHL SAVE PERCENTAGES
The first graph plots the save percentages for each of the top-40 goaltenders right now in the NHL. [Click to enlarge]
Darcy Kuemper currently has the 14th best save percentage in the league. Charlie Lindgren has the 19-best percentage. Having both goalies in the top 20 is a healthy start to the season for the Capitals.
One factor that is somewhat omitted from your basic save percentage stat is the amount of quality shots each netminder is facing, as all shots faced are not created equal. To add context to the save percentage statistic, we can consider the expected goals against for each goaltender.
Simply put, expected goals against (xGA) is a statistic that weighs each opposing shot attempt or scoring chance with the likelihood of a goal being scored. The stat is based on historical averages for each shot type, each location of a shot and the percentages of those shots resulting in a goal.
We can then subtract the actual goals against (GA) for each netminder from what was “expected” (xGA – GA) to get an added sense of how each goaltender is performing. Anything above 0.0 states a netminder is saving more than is “expected”.
METROPOLITAN DIVISION: GOALS DIFFERENTIAL
The following graph plots the goals differential (xGA – GA) for each of the NHL netminders through November 1. The Capitals goaltenders are in green, all other Metropolitan Division goaltenders are boxed in blue. [Click to enlarge].
The Capitals netminders currently have the 9th and 17th best goals differential (xGA – GA) in the NHL, and have the third and fifth-best goals differential in the Metropolitan Division. That’s even more impressive.
SAVE PERCENTAGE and GOALS DIFFERENTIAL
The final plot simply presents the first two statistics is in a single graphic. The upper right quadrant is where you want to be. [Click to enlarge]
The Capitals netminders have arguably been the team’s ‘first stars’ in the first 11 games of the season. In fact, there is very little, if anything, to complain about with regards to the Capitals’ goaltending. Yes it’s early, but as they say, it gets late, quickly.
The Capitals are back in action Thursday night when they take on the Red Wings in Detroit. Puck drop is set for 7:30PM.
The statistics used in this post are courtesy of Natural Stat Trick. If you’d like to learn more about the statistical terms used in this post, please check out our NHL analytics glossary.
By Jon Sorensen
Lindgren is looking like a steal right now, and Kuemper is playing better than I expected. But like you said, it’s early.
If we could ever get our lack of even strength scoring and this goaltending to be equal, we would be tough to beat.