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How does Sergei Bobrovsky match up against Andrei Vasilevskiy?

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This series goes through the netminders

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Tampa Bay Lightning Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Game One of the Stanley Cup Playoffs series between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Tampa Bay Lightning is only a few hours away. We’ve talked about the forwards and the defensemen, so now it’s time to discuss the goalies.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Bruins Goalies in 2018-19

Goalie (Playoffs) GP GS W L T/O GA SA SV SV% GAA SO
Goalie (Playoffs) GP GS W L T/O GA SA SV SV% GAA SO
Tuukka Rask 7 7 4 3 0 16 223 207 0.928 2.32 0
Goalie (Regular Season) GP GS W L T/O GA SA SV SV% GAA SO
Tuukka Rask 46 45 27 13 5 109 1245 1136 0.912 2.48 4
Jaroslav Halak 40 37 22 11 4 90 1158 1068 0.922 2.34 5

The Lightning boasts the NHL’s wins leader and 2019 Vezina Trophy frontrunner in Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Big Cat won 39 games and ranks in the top 10 in wins, save percentage, goals against average and shutouts. Backup Louis Domingue enters the playoffs with an eye-popping 21-5-0 record but pedestrian numbers elsewhere, just hovering over the .900 save percentage mark. It helps to play behind one of the league’s deepest defenses.

In three games against Blue Jackets this season, Vasilevskiy went 3-0-0, stopping 100 of 103 shots for a ridiculous .971 save percentage. That last game took place on February 18 though, a week before the trade deadline and the addition of Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel.

Overall statistics provide only some of the picture. Let’s dive deeper into the 5-on-5 numbers.

Bruins Goalies 5v5

Goalie (Playoffs) GP TOI SA GA Sv% xSV% dSV% LDSv% MDSv% HDSv% GSAA
Goalie (Playoffs) GP TOI SA GA Sv% xSV% dSV% LDSv% MDSv% HDSv% GSAA
Tuukka Rask 7 351.7 189 12 93.65 92.52 1.13 96.55 90.79 92.31 2.14
Goalie (Regular Season) GP TOI SA GA Sv% xSV% dSV% LDSv% MDSv% HDSv% GSAA
Tuukka Rask 46 2156.92 958 70 92.69 92.39 0.3 96.67 93.13 81.5 2.88
Jaroslav Halak 40 1836.18 885 56 93.67 91.83 1.84 97.78 93.02 85.47 16.3
corsica.hockey

Well...Vasilevskiy’s still pretty good. Using these goalie metrics from corsica.hockey (with a minimum of 1,000 minutes played this season), though, you get a feel for how good Tampa’s defense is. Delta/Adjusted Save Percentage (dSv%) shows the difference between a goalie’ expected save percentage and his actual save percentage, demonstrating the difference between a particular netminder and an average replacement facing the same quality of shots. Vasilevskiy’s in the black here with an 0.07 dSv%, three ahead of Bobrovsky.

Vasilevskiy also outpaces Bob in Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA), which represents number of goals allowed by a goaltender compared to what a league average goalie would’ve allowed. Vasilevskiy’s number is nearly a full goal, which is what Tampa needs from him. He doesn’t have to carry the Lightning the way Ben Bishop (18.21 GSAA) carries the Stars or Robin Lehner (11.34) bolsters the Islanders.

Vasilevsky’s high danger save percentage (HDSv%) sticks out as well. HDSv% measures save percentage on shot with a Fenwick shooting percentage equal to or greater than 9 percent. He’s one of the best at stopping low-danger and medium danger shots, but his 77.03 number is a far cry from Bob’s 83.73 (which ranks ninth on Corsica’s site).

That said? According to MoneyPuck.com’s goalie data, Vasilevskiy is one of the league’s best at stopping unblocked shots. He also shows strong rebound control. Columbus needs to get to the net for screens and high danger chances—obviously no easy feat against a team that won 62 games. They know how to defend.

Over his last 15 games as the Lightning cruised into the playoffs, Vasilevskiy went 12-3 with a .912 save percentage. In 29 playoff games, he’s gone 15-11 with a career .919 save percentage and a 2.68 goals against average. Don’t hold your breath on seeing Louis Domingue.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Blue Jackets Goalies in 18-19

Goalie (Playoffs) GP GS W L T/O GA SA SV SV% GAA SO
Goalie (Playoffs) GP GS W L T/O GA SA SV SV% GAA SO
Sergei Bobrovsky 4 4 4 0 0 8 117 109 0.932 2.01 0
Goalie (Regular Season) GP GS W L T/O GA SA SV SV% GAA SO
Sergei Bobrovsky 62 61 37 24 1 153 1756 1603 0.913 2.58 9
Joonas Korpisalo 27 21 10 7 3 67 651 584 0.897 2.95 0

Everyone’s said it, everyone’s right, so we’ll get it out of the way first: If the Blue Jackets beat the Lightning, Sergei Bobrovsky will be the reason why. He’ll have to overcome 17 games of subpar playoff baggage with the CBJ (5-12, .898 save percentage, 3.37 goals against average) and show that he’s the two-time Vezina winner who helped put the CBJ into the playoffs in the first place. This is his last postseason go-round with the Blue Jackets and he’s auditioning for his next contract, so there’s no better time to play out of his mind and steal this series.

Against the Lightning this season, Bob was flat-out awful: 12 goals allowed in two games, a .760 save percentage and a goals against average somewhere near the number of the beast. Korpisalo didn’t fare too much better in his lone start, stopping 15 of 20 shots in a loss.

The good news: in his last 15 starts, few were better than Bob (that stinky Boston home finale aside). Four shutouts (part of his league-leading nine on the season), a .933 save percentage and a 1.95 goals against average over the last 15 means No. 72 has been locked in down the stretch...but of course, the playoffs and the regular season are two very different things.

Blue Jackets Goalies 5v5

Goalie (Playoffs) GP TOI SA GA Sv% xSV% dSV% LDSv% MDSv% HDSv% GSAA
Goalie (Playoffs) GP TOI SA GA Sv% xSV% dSV% LDSv% MDSv% HDSv% GSAA
Sergei Bobrovsky 4 204.08 98 6 93.88 92.35 1.53 98.15 92 84.21 1.5
Goalie (Regular Season) GP TOI SA GA Sv% xSV% dSV% LDSv% MDSv% HDSv% GSAA
Sergei Bobrovsky 61 2881.48 1449 119 91.79 91.77 0.01 97.29 89.18 83.73 0.2
Joonas Korpisalo 27 1153.08 557 50 91.02 91.89 -0.87 98.47 92.27 72.17 -4.83

Bob’s one of the league’s top 10 when it comes to high danger save percentage, which he’ll need against the Lightning’s deep group of dangerous forwards. His 0.2 GSAA is in positive territory.

Joonas Korpisalo could see time if Bob has a meltdown or injury, and that won’t be ideal. Korpisalo’s the worst in the league at 5v5 high-danger save percentage (again, among goalies with 1,000 minutes logged). He’s a better option than Louis Domingue, but that’s not really how these things work. In Korpisalo’s last nine appearances, he’s gone 1-5-1 with an .886 save percentage. If it comes to putting him in a game, it’s already too late.

People have already made the Jaroslav Halak/Jean-Sebastian Giguere comparisons about how a hot goalie can steal a series. We’ve seen what Bob can do, if not against these Lightning players. The fact remains: The Blue Jackets have a chip and a chair, and they have Bob. Anything can happen.

(By the way, Blueshirts Breakaway did a great job of explaining advanced goalie stats a few years ago. Check out this post if you’d like to learn more.)