• Start Bachman?

    by  • October 28, 2013 • Hockey • 5 Comments

    I don’t know why but people seem to be incredible believers in the idea that they can time their selection of goalies. That they can pick out which goalie is hot and which is cold and make a decision accordingly. Hockey people seem to be almost worse than fans in this regard. I talked about this last year when Ralph Krueger went with Nikolai Khabibulin against Los Angeles after Khabibulin came into a game against Colorado that the Oilers were able to turn around. Here’s what Krueger had to say about his decision.

    “You know Nikolai, from the start we said ‘Come in and bring energy when he gets the opportunity’ and I think you just have to have been in the building in the last game to understand that decision. It’s not against Dubnyk in any way shape or form. We’re very happy with Devan Dubnyk and his season and the way it’s gone. He had a couple of bizarre games in the way things devolved, like Duchene’s breakaway goal when he loses the puck after we had 15 shots in a row at the other end, you know it didn’t work out well there but Khabby came in with an amazing compete and good energy and let’s roll that today.”

    This is what I thought then and still think now:

    That said, I’m not really a believer that you can pick which goalie is going to be hot. It’s like timing the market or picking which slot machine is going to pay out. Play the guy who you reasonably expect is the best goalie, subject to the need to keep your backup fresh or to give your starter a break and get on with it. The Oilers didn’t do that last night – they sent out a guy with an extra goal or goal and a half in the chamber for every 100 shots the other team gets. They can’t afford to do it too many times this year.

    There’s talk (from sensible people even!) that the Oilers should give Bachman the start against Toronto, even if Devan Dubnyk is recovered from his ankle knock. Bachman’s hot, he looked great against LA, etc. I don’t believe that that’s a reasonable inference to draw from Bachman’s great game. A table:

    Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 4.28.11 PM

    This asks the simplest question about goalies from 2005-13: for groups of goalie with save percentage X in Game 1, what was their save percentage in Game 2?

    As you can see, the differences are pretty tiny. Keep in mind – the guys posting the horror show save percentages in Game 1 are more likely to be bad goalies and the guys posting great ones are more likely to be great goalies. The bad goalies of the world aren’t as likely to post a .950+ in Game 1 as the great goalies, so the sample for Game 2 is biased. The apparent difference is certainly larger than the real difference, in terms of what the first game tells us. A great goalie is more likely to have a great Game 1 than a bad goalie, which shows up in Game 2.

    So who should the Oilers start if Dubnyk’s healthy? Start the guy you believe to be the better goalie. Chasing goaltending hot streaks is a fool’s game.

    Email Tyler Dellow at tyler@mc79hockey.com

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    5 Responses to Start Bachman?

    1. David Supina
      October 28, 2013 at

      Okay, but what about trying to figure out the goaltending situation ASAP?

      It might be worth giving Bachman starts just based on the fact that if he can establish a level above his history as a NHL player so far (I don’t think that’s unheard of for a 26 year old goaltender), then he might be a better option as a back-up to Dubnyk through the back half of the season than Labarbera.

      I guess there’s two issues; is Bachman a better NHL option this season than Labarbera, and secondly, is it worth spending some games this season on Bachman to find that out? Even if the first one is “probably not”, it might be worth it to keep giving Bachman more games just because this team might need .925 goaltending from here out to make the playoffs. It may be a Hail Mary, but given how badly this team has started, it might be time already to give a Hail Mary a try.

    2. David Supina
      October 28, 2013 at

      For the record, I’d start Dubnyk next game if his ankle is fully healed up. But I’d consider giving Bachman a few more starts, even if it means keeping three goaltenders around for a while.

    3. Woodguy
      October 28, 2013 at

      Chasing goaltending hot streaks is a fool’s game.

      You have 3 goalies.

      In their last start each posted the following:

      1) .846
      2) .815
      3) .979

      Which one do you start?

      While I understand that you cannot predict the next game for any goalie, the spread here is pretty wide and even your chart shows the probability says “go with the #3″ by .007 or more.

      Any edge is infinitely more advantageous than no edge.

      Also,

      If DD was clocking in .910 or so and the backup came in hot, I could see going back to DD without a thought.

      Problem here is that the Oilers team SV% is .880 and 30th in the NHL.

      DD is .878 and JL is .857.

      If you straight line a .915 SV% the Oilers goals against go from 49 to 35.

      Their goal differential goes from -14 to even.

      The season goes from a tire fire to an ok start for so many on the road.

      The situation here, even though we all know you can’t predict the SV% of the next game, dictates that you go with Bachman because what you have gone with so far before has been horrible, except for 2 games by DD.

      If the season was infinitely long it wouldn’t matter, but its not and you have an edge staring you in the face.

      To not take the edge, however small, is bad.

    4. woodguy
      October 28, 2013 at

      There’s also the psychological aspect.

      Does starting the “hot hand” give the rest of the team a psychological boost?

      I’m not sure, but the anecdotal evidence would suggest that it does.

      If that is also an edge, it behooves the coach to take the edge.

    5. v
      October 29, 2013 at

      i think coaches do this partially because it prevents them from having to tell a guy that “you are the inferior goalie” and instead they can go with vague shit like “well hes playing well right now” or whatever

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