The struggles of one Andrew 'Razor' Raycroft this season have been well documented. A promising early stretch that included a great post-game interview after his 8th victory was derailed by a groin injury in November and the ambiguity of his position. However, in 2007 his performance has been on the upswing. Paul Maurice's confidence in the goaltender, he vowed to start him until the playoffs, seems to have given him the self-belief that too often seemed to be lacking at times during the dark days of November and December. At lunch yesterday, a friend was joking that he had really stepped up his game since the brow beating we gave Razor after the Canucks debacle (which cost us a pretty penny to go see as well as a night of trashtalk from the solitary Canucks fan that accompanied the three of us) and we should get some sort of reward for spurring Raycroft to greater heights.
Personally, I think that the change came when Maurice made it clear that he was going to be the starter the rest of the way. Starting with the December 30th game against the senators he has started every game for the Leafs. So I used December 29th to divide the season so far and compared the stats among goalies and compared their standing amongst their peers to their standing for the year-to-date. It's pretty basic but by looking at the tables you can see a few interesting tidbits. Note: Any goalies that are missing have either not played more than 5 games since December 29th or have not played enough games all year to be able to make a comparison.
Raycroft's GAA certainly looks much better in terms of ranking. The middle is populated with the more consistent goalies, both good (Mason, Brodeur, Emery) and bad (Theodore, Thomas, Budaj), and the bottom shows which goalies have really fallen off the path. With a move from 9th to 28th by Huet it's no wonder the Habs have struggled so mightily. When you are amongst the NHL in shots allowed you cannot afford to hvae a goalie with a sub-.900 save percentage. Also, both of the Sharks' goalies and the Stars' Turco are amongst the big fallers but their respective teams scontinue to push for top honours in the West.
As with the save percentages, the surprises are found at either spectrum. Huet again suffers the greatest drop much to my delight. Raycroft once again improves on his standing post-December 29th. One of the things that leaps off of the screen is that Hasek is at the bottom of both tables and still has a 12-3-0 record. His GAA combined with his save percentage belie the fact that the Red Wings are among the stingiest in shots allowed which plays a part in their continued success despite Hasek not being in his best form. The biggest combined mover is Curtis Joseph with a 33 spot improvement over the two categories. Any team looking to add a veteran backup for their playoff run would do well to take a look at Joseph. Those are just some of the ones that popped out right away but feel free to add your conclusions in the comments. It certainly looks like Razor has started to play the kind of hockey that JFJ and the Leafs' scouts expected from him when they trade Rask to Boston.