Why Sergei Bobrovsky's workload can't be compared to other NHL goalies

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 11: Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky #35 of the Philadelphia Flyers stops a shot by Paul Stastny #26 of the Colorado Avalanche in the second period of a hockey game at the Wells Fargo Center on October 11, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

Are we beating a dead horse yet here? Yes, another story about Sergei Bobrovsky's workload. I thought a comment on the "Brian Boucher is starting tonight" story from frequent commenter Mike B on D summed things rather nicely: "I’m happy that this is the worst thing going on right now with the team." Amen, man.

I read something yesterday by Steven Ovadia at PuckUpdate. Ovadia decided to take the claims that Sergei Bobrovsky might be tired and compare them to other goaltenders around the NHL. The basic question here is "Are there other goalies that are more tired than Bob?"

I like the general idea of comparing Bob's workload to his other NHL counterparts, but when thinking about it, and when taking a peek at Ovadia's conclusion, I get a little uneasy about the overall premise. Here's what he came up with, using a nice little chart.

Goalies-chart-bob-work_medium

I believe the chart is sorted by that final percentage column there, which is a percentage of the team's games that each goaltender has played. Ovadia's basic conclusion is that, well, I'll let you read it for yourself. After the jump.

Poor Carey Price has started 95% of Montreal’s games. And Martin Brodeur has started 89% of New Jersey’s games, all the more amazing given a) he’s already been injured this season and b) he’s crazy old.

So Bobrovsky is busy, but there are goalies that are shouldering a heavier workload, in terms of percentage of games started.

[...]

So basically, Bobrovsky is right that he’s tired, if [Thursday] night’s game is any indication, but Laviolette doesn’t need to feel guilty about the rookie goalie’s workload.

But Laviolette might consider learning to read Russian to get a better sense of where his goalie’s head is at.

This is where the red flags fly up for me. Sergei Bobrovsky is not Carey Price. He is not Martin Brodeur. I don't mean that in the "those guys are good, established NHLers and Bobrovsky is only 16 games into his NHL career" sense. I mean it in the "compared to Bobrovsky, those guys have played a hell of a lot more hockey" type sense.

Let's take that same chart Ovadia used and just add a column -- the most number of games played in a season, ever, for each goaltender. We'll include the league and the year as well. Aaaannnnd re-sort:

Player Team GP GS W L OT SA GA GAA Sv Sv% SO Team GP % Max GP League
Martin Brodeur NJD 17 16 4 10 1 424 42 2.74 382 0.9 2 19 89.00% 78 NHL (2006-07)
Miikka Kiprusoff CGY 15 15 6 9 0 430 41 2.75 389 0.91 2 17 88.00% 76 NHL (twice)
Marty Turco CHI 16 16 8 5 2 466 40 2.56 426 0.91 1 21 76.00% 74 NHL (2008-09)
Nikolai Khabibulin EDM 15 15 4 10 1 462 56 4.07 406 0.88 1 17 88.00% 72 NHL (1996-97)
Cam Ward CAR 16 16 9 7 0 509 45 2.98 464 0.91 0 18 89.00% 69 NHL (2007-08)
Ilya Bryzgalov PHX 16 15 7 2 5 534 43 2.8 491 0.92 0 18 89.00% 69 NHL (2009-10)
Kari Lehtonen DAL 15 15 9 6 0 465 42 2.83 423 0.91 0 17 88.00% 68 NHL (2006-07)
Carey Price MTL 18 18 11 6 1 528 38 2.11 490 0.93 3 19 95.00% 63 WHL (2004-05)
Jonas Hiller ANA 16 16 8 6 2 550 44 2.78 506 0.92 0 21 76.00% 59 NHL (2009-10)
Brian Elliott OTT 15 14 9 6 0 453 41 3 412 0.91 1 19 79.00% 55 NHL (2009-10)
Michal Neuvirth WSH 17 16 12 3 0 443 39 2.56 404 0.91 1 19 89.00% 41 OHL (2006-07)
Sergei Bobrovsky PHI 16 16 11 3 1 465 35 2.29 430 0.93 0 20 80.00% 35 KHL (2009-10)

When looking at all the goalies who could potentially make a claim for being overworked right now, and we look at their histories to find out if they're accustomed to this sort of thing, we learn that really only two goalies have a real case to make here:

Sergei Bobrovsky and Michal Neuvirth, both NHL rookies.

And there's even one really important difference between these two. Neuvirth played in the Ontario Hockey League for four years before seeing time in the ECHL and the AHL before getting the call in the NHL. He didn't play a ton of games in any particular year besides that one in his first OHL season, but he at least has experience in North American hockey. It can't be overlooked.

The final conclusion Ovadia comes up with here is that "Laviolette doesn’t need to feel guilty about the rookie goalie’s workload." That's just not true, because Sergei Bobrovsky cannot be compared to Brodeur or Price or Ilya Bryzgalov or, really, any of those goalies on that list save Neuvirth.

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