When the Seattle Kraken signed Philipp Grubauer, he was expected to be the backbone of the team and put up similar numbers to last season when he was with the Colorado Avalanche. Unfortunately, that has not been the case; he is one of the worst statistical goaltenders in the league this season. Seattle needs him to recapture his form quickly if they intend to push for a playoff spot.
Grubauer Struggling at 5-on-5
Among goaltenders who have played at least six games this season, Grubauer ranks near the bottom of every statistical category at 5-on-5. Of the 35 goaltenders that qualify, he ranks 34th in goals allowed, save percentage (SV%), and goals-against average. The only goaltender whose stats are worse is Marc-André Fleury, who’s had a rough start with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Grubauer’s expected goals against is the most concerning, which, depending on the site, is between 13.99 and 15.39. The metric helps determine if a goaltender is making the saves he should be compared to the historical data of how goals are usually scored. Through the first 10 games, Grubauer has given up 23 goals, which is approximately seven to nine more goals allowed based on the shots he is facing. One reason for this is his inability to stop shots that are considered medium-danger scoring chances.
The medium-danger scoring chances are the most significant area of concern. These shots come from outside the slot or crease area, not generated off the rush. He has faced 53 of these shots and allowed 10 goals, which translates to a .811% SV%. Darcy Kuemper is the only other goalie among the 35 with more than seven goals allowed; he has also allowed 10. Last season, Grubauer only gave up 19 medium-danger goals in 40 games. He needs to work on and fix this as these goals are killing the team.
Positives in Grubauer’s Game
Although his start has not been ideal, there are some positives. Grubauer has allowed two or fewer goals in five games, and he can freeze the puck well. So far, he has frozen the puck 64 times, which ranks 13th in the league. Some may not consider this a critical stat, but the ability to freeze the puck can stop the momentum, prevent rebounds, and allow defenders to change if they’ve been on the ice a while. It may be a minor detail, but it’s one that Grubauer has excelled at this season and in his career.
If he can be more consistent and deliver performances as he did against the Minnesota Wild, Seattle should be fine. Grubauer has shown he can play at an elite standard. Now, it is all about rediscovering his game and becoming more confident in the Kraken crease.
Grubauer Inconsistent This Season
The analytics paint an ugly picture, but the most frustrating part of Grubauer’s game is the inconsistency. This season, he hasn’t been able to string together three games where his SV% is above .900. It’s hard for a team to build momentum when their goaltender is struggling every third game. Whether he doesn’t have enough rest between games or he’s still getting used to a new system, the Kraken need to help their starting goaltender sort through his issues.
Not an Ideal Start for the Kraken
The good news is the season is only 13 games old, and there is plenty of time to refocus. With Chris Driedger back from injury, Grubauer should be given more rest between starts, which should help him stay fresh throughout the season. The Kraken are also rounding into form and are becoming the solid defensive team that they were expected to be at the start of the season. If they can continue to keep their shots against down, and the goaltending can become more stable, they should start winning games more consistently and find themselves battling for a playoff spot near the end of the season.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at dubnetwork.ca where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.