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A graphical look at Bryzgalov's struggles


Guest hf101
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Ilya Bryzgalov is struggling again. Whether you use your eyes, look at the numbers, or ask the players, the conclusion is the same.

So last night Down Goes Spezza asked us to give him "something good regarding" Bryzgalov regressing to the mean. I don't know if what you're about to read fulfills his request, but it's how I spent my night after he asked.

All numbers here are from Hockey-Reference.com, since I find their game logs much easier to use.

First, let's just look at how Ilya Bryzgalov has played, on a game-by-game basis, over the last two-plus seasons.

Click to enlarge:

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This gives us a baseline for how much his game-by-game performance varies, if nothing else. We see a good number of games dropping below the 85% line, but generally, every game is between 85 and 95%.

Click to enlarge:

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Here we take the cumulative save percentage from Bryzgalov's last ten games. While the immediate drop at the start of his Flyers career is blatantly obvious, it bottomed out after he let in four goals on ten shots against Winnipeg. That marked his fifth straight game stopping fewer than 90 percent of shots. He then rattled off six straight above 91.7 percent.

But we also notice a similar, if more jagged, plummet earlier. In January of 2010, Bryzgalov posted a save percentage of 83.3 or lower in four of five games. The very bottom of that spike came on January 28th, 2010. This has certainly happened before with Bryz: He goes on long cold streaks.

In his next two starts, he stopped his next 63 of 65 shots.

The difference is that in Philadelphia, when he bottomed out after the Winnipeg game, he had another stretch of three straight bad games, preventing him from improving his rolling average.

Since Bryzgalov was pulled against the Islanders in November, he has alternated in-game save percentages of 92 or higher with 87.5 or lower. Combine the three-game skid with the consistently inconsistent play, and you have a double-dip in Bryzgalov's numbers.

This raises two questions though.

Is Ilya Bryzgalov unique in his peaks and valleys?

What is the likelihood of someone doing what Brzygalov did in Phoenix doing what he has done in Philadelphia?

To answer the first question, I simply looked at Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers. Why Lundqvist? He's an elite goalie with similar career save percentage numbers and he's playing on a hated rival. Also, I wanted someone who played roughly as much as Bryzgalov while being on a solid, if unspectacular, team.

Here is what we get:

Click to enlarge:

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Through 145 games, the two are basically identical. Both have two stretches of terrible play and both have similar peaks and valleys in their good play. Up to this season, the two were indistinguishable. It is certainly true that Bryzgalov is having a really bad start to the season. It is also true that Lundqvist is having a very good start to the season.

Yes, it's only one comparison, but it's hard to say Bryzgalov is unique in having two steep drops in performance. it's also hard to say he's more inconsistent than Lundqvist, despite conventional wisdom disagreeing with that.

It is very easy to over-emphasize the short-term results, making them seem bigger than they are. Bryzgalov really is playing poorly, but the long-term trend is clear: Bryzgalov is in line with the NHL's best goalies. We can look for reasons why he's struggling - the expectations of the contract, the pressure of the media, the new teammates, the new city, the new defensive system, the injuries, his confidence - but those are just excuses to fill a narrative.

This is not the way Bryzgalov, Ed Snider, Paul Holmgren, or Flyers fans wanted his nine-year contract to begin. It is understandable that the poor play, magnified by the large contract, creates panic. But with the contract also comes a new perspective: He's going to be here for nine-years, so twenty-six games isn't enough to judge him on.

To answer question two - the likelihood of this happening after Bryzgalov's last two years in Phoenix - we turn to Eric T.:

///Statisticians have a simple method for testing whether the difference between two samples is significant, called a t-test. It measures the probability that you could have gotten a difference that large just by random chance, without a true talent difference. ///

In this case, it comes out at 7%, which is big enough that a statistician would be hesitant to call this a clear difference, but small enough that a fan should be concerned.

You got that? This is concerning, but stats nerds are hesitant to say this is concerning.

Conclusion

Yes, Ilya Bryzgalov is struggling. Yes, he is struggling in a way he has not in the previous two-plus seasons. Yes, this is concerning.

But the good news is: Bryzgalov is not this bad. He has faced similar adversity before, less than two calendar years ago, and came through it. This year, his double-dip run of poor play has been the result of one bad month.

It is far too early to think this is anything more than an outlier for Bryzgalov. Be concerned, yes. But don't expect this to continue, either.

BroadStreetHockey

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One more thing mentioned in one of the comments:

[quote

]Bryz’s stats based on that split this year and they’re a bit shocking:

Facing >30 shots: 7-1-0, .934, 2.26

Facing <=30 shots: 7-7-3, .860, 3.38

The splits from last season wasn’t nearly as pronounced and are probably more along the lines of what you’d expect over a full season/a much bigger sample size, but they’re still there:

Facing >30 shots: 19-10-8, .928, 2.59

Facing <=30 shots: 17-10-2, .909, 2.35

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Good point doom,

Bryz has been pulled in 3 games. One of which Bob only played 13min against Tampa and made 3 saves in a 5 -2 win, which probably doesn't have any effect. But the other two may change the numbers some. Bob played 43min and made all 23 saves against the Islanders for a 4-3 win. And in the latest game Bob played 33 min and made 16 of 17 saves in Bostons 6-0 rout.

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@hf101

ok, cool. wanted to check before i directly offended anyone, because someone obviously spent a lot of time on that. imo, it completely misses the forrest for the statistical trees. i agree that the bryzgalov of the last two weeks has been more off than normal, and we've seen that over the course of this season. i have a problem with the basic and repeated premise, though, that bryzgalov is basically no different than henrik lundqvist. statistically, they've had similar ups and downs over their careers, but the two are very different goalies who have developed those statistics in very different situations. it also fails to go back further than two seasons, and so doesn't capture any of bryzgalov's not-statistically-great seasons, things that lundqvist has never had. lundqvist has only ever had one season with a sv% below .916, whereas bryzglov's career *average* is .914.

i admire the work put into this piece, and it's an interesting take. it misses the bigger picture, though, in my mind. thanks for posting it, just my $.02.

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@hf101

ok, cool. wanted to check before i directly offended anyone, because someone obviously spent a lot of time on that. imo, it completely misses the forrest for the statistical trees. i agree that the bryzgalov of the last two weeks has been more off than normal, and we've seen that over the course of this season. i have a problem with the basic and repeated premise, though, that bryzgalov is basically no different than henrik lundqvist. statistically, they've had similar ups and downs over their careers, but the two are very different goalies who have developed those statistics in very different situations. it also fails to go back further than two seasons, and so doesn't capture any of bryzgalov's not-statistically-great seasons, things that lundqvist has never had. lundqvist has only ever had one season with a sv% below .916, whereas bryzglov's career *average* is .914.

i admire the work put into this piece, and it's an interesting take. it misses the bigger picture, though, in my mind. thanks for posting it, just my $.02.

Yeah.. It's reaching for a positive angle a bit. Statisticians also know how to pull out numbers to prove their point.... Any point.

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Strugglin again? he has been ok in some games and had a couple of great games but I think he have een strugglin for the most of the time. Bryz is not 100%. Bryz is slow. He is not at it. Reaction is not there. He cant handle the sallary and the pressure to be the

Nr1. I dont think he will get better this season.

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Strugglin again? he has been ok in some games and had a couple of great games but I think he have een strugglin for the most of the time. Bryz is not 100%. Bryz is slow. He is not at it. Reaction is not there. He cant handle the sallary and the pressure to be the

Nr1. I dont think he will get better this season.

I think you're right, if we are going to see any consistency from him, it won't come until next season... I can't wait to be wrong (here's hoping)

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