Connor Hellebuyck Versus the Scotia North Division: Goalie Showdown

With only four games remaining in the regular season for the Winnipeg Jets, Connor Hellebuyck maintaining squeaky-clean goaltending abilities is a must. He’s been playing great this season, but how do his stats compare to the rest of the playoff-contending goalies in the Scotia North Division?

I’ll be examining the starting goalies from teams ranked one through four in the Scotia North Division purely based on their stats to see who is in the best position — Hellebuyck or his potential North Division opponent — to stop pucks heading into next week’s playoffs. These teams and their goalies are the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Frederik Andersen, the Edmonton Oilers’ Mike Smith, and the Montreal Canadiens’ Carey Price. 

Winnipeg Jets – Connor Hellebuyck

To start off, we need to take a look at Hellebuyck before comparing his performance to the other goalies in the North:

  • Games Played (GP): 42
  • Games Started (GS): 42
  • Wins (W): 22
  • Losses (L): 16
  • OT Wins (OT): 3
  • Shots Against (SA): 1253
  • Goals Against (GA): 107
  • Goals Against Average (GAA): 2.65
  • Saves (S): 1146
  • Save Percentage (SV%): .915
  • Shutouts (SO): 3
  • Minutes: 2423:41
Connor Hellebuyck – Winnipeg Jets vs Philadelphia Flyers – November 17, 2016 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Breaking it down, if we look at wins alone, Hellebuyck has 22 this season, positioning him in fifth place in the NHL. The 27-year-old has a save percentage (SV%) of .915, and his goals against average (GAA) is 2.65. The GAA can be pinned heavily on a team’s defense as the stronger your defense is, the fewer shots your goalie will have to face, and consequently, the less likely it is for a goal to get past him. Though, it’s still worth noting as a goalie’s purpose is to stop shots. 

Wins, SV%, and GAA will mainly be used as points of reference in comparing Hellebuyck to the other starting goalies in the Scotia North Division. 

Matchup 1: Connor Hellebuyck vs. Frederik Andersen

For matchup one, it’s Hellebuyck versus the Leafs’ Frederik Andersen. Let’s take a look at the statistics

Hellebuyck

  • Games Played (GP): 42
  • Games Started (GS): 42
  • Wins (W): 22
  • Losses (L): 16
  • OT Wins (OT): 3
  • Shots Against (SA): 1253
  • Goals Against (GA): 107
  • Goals Against Average (GAA): 2.65
  • Saves (S): 1146
  • Save Percentage (SV%): .915
  • Shutouts (SO): 3
  • Minutes: 2423:41

Andersen

  • Games Played (GP): 23
  • Games Started (GS): 22
  • Wins (W): 13
  • Losses (L): 8
  • OT Wins (OT): 2
  • Shots Against (SA): 640
  • Goals Against (GA): 66
  • Goals Against Average (GAA): 2.91
  • Saves (S): 574
  • Save Percentage (SV%): .897
  • Shutouts (SO): 0
  • Minutes: 1360:41
Frederik Andersen Toronto Maple Leafs
Frederik Andersen, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

In terms of wins, we can’t compare the two based purely on numbers, as Hellebuyck has played almost double the amount of games as Andersen, who hasn’t stepped foot onto the ice in a Leafs’ uniform since March 19th. Nevertheless, if we compare the number of games won to the total played by each goalie, Hellebuyck has won 52.4 percent of his games, while Andersen has won 56.5 percent of the games he was in net (W/GP x 100). 

Looking at SV%, Hellebuyck clearly wins this one with a .915 SV%, squashing Andersen’s .897 mark, and with their GAA, Hellebuyck’s 2.65 GAA tops Andersen’s 2.91. Based on statistics, Hellebuyck is the winner here.

It’s worth noting that Sheldon Keefe may not start Andersen in the playoffs, as he is still healing from a lower-body injury, so the Leafs’ backup Jack Campbell, who has had a record-breaking season for the franchise, could start in net. 

Matchup 2: Connor Hellebuyck vs. Carey Price

Moving on to Montreal, this matchup is Hellebuyck versus the Habs’ Carey Price. Here’s the breakdown:

Hellebuyck:

  • Games Played (GP): 42
  • Games Started (GS): 42
  • Wins (W): 22
  • Losses (L): 16
  • OT Wins (OT): 3
  • Shots Against (SA): 1253
  • Goals Against (GA): 107
  • Goals Against Average (GAA): 2.65
  • Saves (S): 1146
  • Save Percentage (SV%): .915
  • Shutouts (SO): 3
  • Minutes: 2423:41

Price:

  • Games Played (GP): 25
  • Games Started (GS): 25
  • Wins (W): 12
  • Losses (L): 7
  • OT Wins (OT): 5
  • Shots Against (SA): 659
  • Goals Against (GA): 65
  • Goals Against Average (GAA): 2.64
  • Saves (S): 594
  • Save Percentage (SV%): .901
  • Shutouts (SO): 1
  • Minutes: 1478:45
Carey Price Montreal Canadiens
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Another injury-riddled goalie, Price has not played a game since April 19th after getting a concussion while playing against the Oilers. Before this injury, he was out for six games after sustaining a lower-body injury. So again, if we look at wins alone, Hellebuyck has more (22 compared to Price’s 12), though Price only played 25 games while Hellebuyck has played 42. As a percentage, Price has won 48 percent of games played, and as mentioned earlier, Hellebuyck has won 52.4 percent of the games he has played. 

Moving onto SV%, Hellebuyck reigns superior here with a .915 over Price’s .901. In terms of their GAA, the two are almost even, only differing by .01, so this stat alone can’t determine whose goaltending skills are superior. Hellebuyck has a 2.65 GAA while Price is at 2.64. 

Based on these statistics, the Jets’ goalie Hellebuyck wins yet again. However, Jake Allen could get the start in the playoffs for the Habs if Price does not heal in time. 

Matchup 3: Connor Hellebuyck vs. Mike Smith

As for matchup three, for the purpose of this article, we’ll go with Mike Smith as the Oilers’ starting goalie as he has played 30 games in comparison to Mikko Koskinen, who played 24 games this season. Here’s Smith’s season in numbers:

Hellebuyck

  • Games Played (GP): 42
  • Games Started (GS): 42
  • Wins (W): 22
  • Losses (L): 16
  • OT Wins (OT): 3
  • Shots Against (SA): 1253
  • Goals Against (GA): 107
  • Goals Against Average (GAA): 2.65
  • Saves (S): 1146
  • Save Percentage (SV%): .915
  • Shutouts (SO): 3
  • Minutes: 2423:41

Smith

  • Games Played (GP): 30
  • Games Started (GS): 28
  • Wins (W): 19
  • Losses (L): 6
  • OT Wins (OT): 2
  • Shots Against (SA): 867
  • Goals Against (GA): 65
  • Goals Against Average (GAA): 2.26
  • Saves (S): 802
  • Save Percentage (SV%): .925
  • Shutouts (SO): 3
  • Minutes: 1726:16
Mike Smith Edmonton Oilers
Mike Smith, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Since the Oilers seem to switch frequently between their starting goaltenders, Smith has played fewer games than Hellebuyck with 30. When analyzing their wins, Smith is quite impressive, racking up 19. Hellebuyck only has three more wins than Smith despite him playing 12 additional games, so Smith has won 63.3 percent of games he has played while Hellebuyck has won 52.4 percent.

Moving onto their GAA, Smith is at 2.26 while Hellebuyck at 2.65. Not a dramatic win, but Smith does perform better here as well.

In regards to their SV%, Smith has a .925, beating Hellebuyck’s .915 but again, not by a wild amount. The two goalies purely in regards to their statistics come fairly close, yet Smith takes the win. If we do get to see the Jets take on the Oilers in the playoffs, it’s bound to be a captivating goalie battle.

Looking Ahead

While it’s still uncertain which goalie will be spending most of their time between the pipes for the Leafs, Habs, and Oilers, one thing is for certain: goaltending will play a huge factor and Hellebuyck better be ready to take on some major playoff heat.


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