Through 12 games so far this season, it’s clear who one of the weak links are for the Calgary Flames: Goaltender Mike Smith. Let’s look at why.
Through 12 games this season, the Calgary Flames are 6-5-1. In their five losses, while it’s not always the goalie’s fault, it’s still also quite clear about part of their losing factor: Mike Smith. I love the Chronicles of Mike Smith.
In 12 games, Smith has started nine of them and had to be relieved in two of them. While he had a shutout in one of his wins, he’s still been wildly inconsistent. Just to give you a clear view of just how inconsistent he is, through his last five games, in order from most recent to least, these are his sv%: 0.960, 0.889, 0.714, 0.867, 0.923. His sv% is at a horrible 0.878 and his ev sv% is at a mere 0.894%, which is already a bad overall sv%, if it was his overall sv%.
Let’s take a deeper dive into Smith’s season so far.
(All stats taken from Natural Stat Trick).
LDSV%, MDSV%, and HDSV%
For all of these, we’ll only be looking at 5v5.
On the 189 shots that Mike Smith has faced at 5v5 in his nine starts, he has let in 20 goals. 60 of those shots were low-danger shots and he let in three LD goals against, giving him an sv% of .0950. That’s generally not too bad, seeing how you want your goaltender to have an LDSV% in the high 90s. However, based on the rest of the goaltenders in the league, it’s bad. He’s eighth last among all goaltenders in that category and only two below him are starters (three if you count Tuukka Rask, but he seems to be losing that starting-role job).
45 shots were medium-danger shots in which he let in three goals against as well, giving him a MDSV% of 0.933. That’s decent as well, seeing how you want your goaltender to have at least 0.900 MDSV% and the higher, the better. Smith is also in the top half of the goalies in this category, but the only problem is that he’s faced the least amount of shots at this level.
Now we get to the high-danger shots, where Smith has faced 68 shots, which is quite high. It’s the second highest in the league and only John Gibson has faced more. On those 68 shots, 14 of them have gone in. That’s the second highest amount let in among all the goaltenders, giving him a HDSV% of 0.794, which is quite bad and among the worst 25% in the league.
Basically, Smith’s biggest downfall this season is that he is not stopping those quality chances when the Calgary Flames need him to.
Playing Devil’s Advocate
If we play Devil’s Advocate for Smith for a minute here, it’s not entirely on him. The fact that the Calgary Flames have allowed 68 high-danger shots against is not on Smith at all and they need to tighten their defence up drastically. The good news is that their defence played probably their best game yet against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night, and if they can play like that for a majority of the season, it’ll do wonders.
Also, the fact that the Flames highest amount of shots against are coming from high-danger chances is, again, terrible. You generally want your goaltender to be facing a higher percentage of low-danger chances and the Flames aren’t helping Smith out much in that case.
And yes, we know Smith is bad. But at the same time, not all of this is necessarily his fault. As my friend and managing editor of Flames Nation, Ari, mentioned in a thread on Twitter, it’s not Smith’s fault that he’s older and has dealt with a injuries, one not even a year ago. And to be fair, Smith was great for a majority of last season until he got injured, and when he returned from injury, he wasn’t the same, and still isn’t.
He’s not like he was about ten years ago and is that his fault? Not at all.
We can play Devil’s Advocate all we want, but there’s this little thing called “David Rittich” that somewhat negates some of those points. As much as we can say that the Calgary Flames aren’t helping out Smith, it’s not like they’re playing a completely different game in front of Rittich.
On the 106 shots Rittich has faced (5v5), he has seen more high-danger shots than the ones at the other levels. Yet, he has still managed to keep an HDSV% of 0.925, an MDSV% of 0.957, and an LDSV% of 0.974, giving him an overall EV SV% of 0.953 and an SV% of 0.933 at all strengths.
So, while Smith isn’t getting help from his team, neither is Rittich, but he’s not losing games for the Flames.
Yes, the Calgary Flames haven’t been the best that we know they can be and haven’t been helping Mike Smith out a whole lot. And no, it isn’t Smith’s fault that he’s old and is dealing with injuries and that the Flames need him to be their No.1 guy.
But he’s still putting up terrible numbers. And even though the Flames aren’t helping him out, they’re not helping David Rittich out either, yet he’s been miles better than Smith.
Either Smith needs to get his act together like, tomorrow, or he could very well be the reason they don’t make the playoffs this season.