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The Calgary Flames need to find a new backup

April 16, 2018, 12:35 PM ET [34 Comments]
Todd Cordell
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The Calgary Flames probably need to address their goaltending situation this summer. Again.

All things considered, Mike Smith had a pretty good year as a starter. He posted a respectable .916 save percentage and was arguably the team's best player over the first half of the season.

His game really tailed off down the stretch, though, and at times he carried too much on his plate. It's clear the 36-year-old needs some help from his backup. Unfortunately, he didn't get much of it.

After a disastrous start to the season for Eddie Lack, David Rittich took over backup duties for the rest of the year.

Things started well – he looked like a legitimate platoon candidate for 2018-19 – but quickly went south. When all was said and done, the total body of work left a lot to be desired.

In 2017-18, 61 goaltenders logged at least 700 minutes of ice at 5v5. Among them, Rittich ranked 52nd in 5v5 save percentage with most of the guys behind him either a) unproven backups like Scott Wedgewood, Tristan Jarry and Anton Forsberg or; b) veterans playing behind horrible defensive teams such as Thomas Greiss and Craig Anderson.

When looking at dSV%, which subtracts save percentage from expected save percentage to help measure who is under or over-performing, Rittich fares even worse.

His 5v5 save percentage of 91.28 was well below his expected save percentage of 92.57. That's a -1.29% differential, which ranked him 55th among 61 eligible goaltenders.

Many people like to use high-danger save percentage to evaluate goaltenders with the theory being it's hard to consistently stop quality shots if you're not very good. Based on that, it doesn't look good for Rittich. He finished 59th in HD SV%.

Jon Gillies didn't crack the 700 minute criteria used above but his 5v5 numbers were worse than Rittich's – almost across the board – so he certainly doesn't look like a guy who is ready to play 25 games at the NHL level.

We're dealing with relatively small sample sizes with both guys but, with the way things went this season, I just can't see GM Brad Treliving betting on unproven goaltenders again next year.

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