Johan Backlund: Quality Behind Phantom Defense

Jeffrey Fehder via bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com

Earlier in the year, we looked at why the Flyers didn't play in front of Brian BoucherIn that article, I used findings from Rob Vollman to show that Brian Boucher was a hard-luck loser.  It's worth taking another look because it shows how little the difference was between Michael Leighton's amazing regular season and Boucher's terrible regular season.

Since then, Vollman took his findings and tweaked them.  He determined what would be considered a "Quality Start" in the NHL.  Basically, a Quality Start is where the goalie has an in-game save percentage above the league-wide median save percentage.  Now, to compile this, Vollman takes the starting goalie for all 30 teams in all 82 games (2,460 games) and only considers the starter's save percentage.  In the NHL last year, that number was .917.  To have a stronger correlation to winning percentage, Rob rounded up to .920.

There is a small caveat though - having a save percentage between .885 and .919 while only allowing 2 or fewer goals is also a Quality Start.  So a Quality Start in the NHL during the 2009-10 season was any game with a .920 save percentage or higher, or a .885 save percentage or higher while allowing no more than 2 goals. 

Rob posted his findings on this past season here.  It's worth looking at if for no other reason then to see that Brian Boucher had the fifth highest number of Quality Start losses of anybody in the entire league.  Earlier this week, Japers' Rink looked at all three of their goalies and posted the findings there.  After seeing the post over at Japers', I decided to look at the Flyers potential backup goaltender next year, Johan Backlund.

It wasn't easy, so humor me with a jump.

In trying to determine what a Quality Start is in the AHL, I had to create a spreadsheet for all 133 goalies who played in the AHL last year.  It turns out, only 111 goalies started games in the AHL.  But then I had to go through every goalies' game-by-game stats to eliminate the games they came in on relief.  One hundred and thirty three game logs.  Yes, it took me two days.

But it was not at all in vain!  Well, except for the fact that I can't draw any further conclusions because I couldn't bring myself to create a massive spreadsheet with all of the data.  Instead, all I have is 111 AHL goalies save percentages in games they started.  Seriously, ask me their goals against average, I have no clue.  Ask me what former Flyers draft pick Rejean Beauchemin's save percentage was in games he started (one) and I have it.

So without further ado:  a Quality Start during the 09-10 AHL season was a .904 save percentage.  Just in keeping with Vollman's numbers, I rounded to .907 and called that a Quality Start.  Just shifting numbers from the NHL, rather than .885 to .919, the "2 goals or less" caveat is .873 to .906.  This caveat doesn't really matter, since there was only one game that got the caveat.

Teaser!  Just for fun - seriously, FUN - I did a full chart of Jonathan Bernier to compare Backlund too.  But first, the serious information.


Johan Backlund

#30 / Goalie / Philadelphia Flyers

6-2

198

Jul 24, 1981



AHL GS MIN
W
L
SOL
SV%
QS
QS%
WQS
WQS%
BO
BO%
2009 - Johan Backlund 40
2417
21
17
2
.908
25
63.0%
6
24%
3
20%

First, a key: SOL - Shootout-loss; QS - Quality Starts; QS% - Quality Start percentage; WQS - Wasted Quality Starts; WQS% - Percent of quality starts the team lost; BO - Bailouts; BO% - The percent of non-quality starts the team won.

Another important reference point - since I didn't calculate the quality starts for the entire AHL - is that Backlund's percent of quality starts would have ranked 4th in the NHL.  Obviously, that's not a direct comparison, but it gives you a hint of how impressive that number is. 

Sixty-three percent of the time, Backlund gave an above-median performance in the AHL.  Unfortunately, the Phantoms were pretty bad and couldn't take advantage nearly a quarter of the time.  What does surprise me though, is that the Phantoms overcame a poor performance by Backlund three times.  This is probably just the law of averages, but still.  In each of the three bailouts, Backlund only gave up 3 goals. 

All-in-all, Backlund proved pretty consistent in the AHL.  Considering how poor the team was (they had a minus-52 goal differential, third-worst in the league), Backlund was pretty solid.

Now, what I'm sure most of you have been waiting for, Jonathan Bernier's numbers.


Jonathan Bernier

#45 / Goalie / Los Angeles Kings

5-11

184

Aug 07, 1988


 


AHL GS MIN
W
L
SOL
SV%
QS
QS%
WQS
WQS%
BO
BO%
2009 - Jonathan Bernier 57
3384
30
21
6
.936
41
71.9%
8
19.5%
1
6.3%

Even more impressive.  Bernier had a great year, and it's easy to see why he's considered the best goalie in the AHL.  Making them even more impressive is the fact that the Monarchs outscored their opposition by a mere 13 goals this year.

Also, it would appear as though the Monarchs lived and died with Bernier as they were only able to bail him out once.  It just so happened to be a game where he gave up 5 goals, one of the six times he gave up five or more.  (For comparison sake, Backlund gave up 5 or more seven times in 17 fewer games).

Yeah, Bernier is very good.  But Backlund is a decent replacement.  All the more reason to get excited for Johan Backlund.

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