Colorado Avalanche Goaltenders And Adjusted Save Percentage

Mar 12, 2016; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov (1) makes a save during the second period against the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 12, 2016; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov (1) makes a save during the second period against the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports /

The Colorado Avalanche give up more high quality chances than most teams, thus the save percentage of the goaltenders can be misleading. Because of this, adjusted save percentage paints a more accurate picture of goalie performance for the Avalanche.

Advanced stats in the NHL have evolved at a torrential pace the last couple of years. From basic Corsi and Fenwick, stats have evolved to statistically adjusted Corsi scores that take into account the quality of opponents’ Corsi, linemates’ Corsi, and a player’s team Corsi. In addition advanced stats have given us zone entry measurements and advanced faceoff metrics.

However, one place where there hasn’t been much (universally accepted) progress is goaltender performance. It’s been known for years that goals allowed against is not a good indicator of goalies’ abilities as it is heavily affected by team performance. Likewise, recently save percentage has come under fire as being potentially misleading — especially the stats you’d find on that include powerplay and penalty kill situations in their calculations.

To start, we’re going to focus only on 5 on 5 situations for the Colorado Avalanche (for this post and goalie posts going forward). This is to remove effects that lead to better chances against on the penalty kill and can hurt a goalie’s save percentage. However, I don’t use score close when looking at goaltenders’ adjusted save percentages. This is because the adjusted save percentage will take into account different opportunities resulting from overly aggressive play.

You may be asking how better opportunities from aggressive play that results when a team is down are different from better opportunities on the penalty kill, and it’s simply there’s an extra man on the penalty kill. Adjusted save percentages adjusts for higher scoring chances, it does not adjust for a goalie having to deal with an extra one-time threat on the ice or an extra player ready for a rebound.

What Is Adjusted Save Percentage?

So all that aside, what is adjusted save percentage? As touched on above, it starts similar to standard save percentage, but is then weighted by the difficulty of shots that a goalie faces. Directly from War-On-Ice’s glossary:

"Adjusted save percentage; this adjusts for the fact that some teams give up more high-quality shots, while others give up more low-quality shots. This is the weighted-average of SvPctHigh, SvPctMed, and SvPctLow, where the weights correspond to the league-wide percentage of shots from each of those areas. In other words, this is a goalies save percentage if they faced a league average proportion of shots from each of the three shooting zones (high, medium, and low probability of success)."

So basically it takes a goalies save percentage and statistically corrects. It’s as if all the goaltenders in the league took the same percentage of shots from different danger zones. Below is the chart War-On-Ice has developed for its calculations — yellow zones are low danger areas, red are medium danger, and the teal-ish zones are high percentage scoring areas.

Colorado Avalanche
Colorado Avalanche /

So let’s say Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov faces 3% more shots then the average NHL goaltender form the teal zones, adjusted save percentage “corrects” this by rewarding saves more in this area while penalizing goals from this area less.

Summed up, adjusted save percentage is the best way to compare goaltenders when teams play either very good or very poor defense. For example Devan Dubnyk’s save percentage is consistently higher than his adjusted save percentage because the Minnesota Wild do a good job of limiting high scoring opportunities. On the other end of the spectrum, Varlamov’s adjusted save percentage has almost always been better then his traditional save percentage due to the high quality chances the Colorado Avalanche allow.

How It Affects the Colorado Avalanche

More from Mile High Sticking

I’m planning on a more in-depth article on the Colorado Avalanche goaltenders for later this week, but I wanted to go over adjusted save percentage first because it’s vital to understand the Avalanche goaltender performance. Because the Avalanche are not nearly a traditional team in terms of their shots against, save percentage can be very misleading for the goaltenders. In reality we should be judging the goalies by their adjusted save percentage.

I’ll go in-depth on each goalie with my next post, but for now consider this: Reto Berra has by far the highest adjusted save percentage of the Avalanche goaltenders at 94.30%, which is largely because his save percentage from high scoring zones is an amazing 92.45%! Consider that to Calivn Pickard’s and Varlamov’s high scoring zone save percentages of 84.55% and 83.59%, respectively, and you began to look at goaltending in a whole new light.

On the other hand, Calvin Pickard excels at making the easy saves with a low danger save percentage of 98.63% while Semyon Varlamov’s low danger save percentage is a measly 96.56%.

And those numbers make sense! Think of how many poor goals Varly has let in this year, leading to the correct accusation of him being inconsistent. But now we have numbers that can tell us just how unreliable he’s truly been.

Next: Semyon Varlamov Needs To Get Hot


We didn’t delve into the Colorado Avalanche numbers too deeply here because I plan on doing an in-depth article coming this week that will compare all of the goaltenders. For now here’s the link to all the Avalanche goaltenders’ stats for this year from War-On-Ice.

If you disagree that we should use adjusted save percentage to evaluate the Avs goalies let me know down in the comments! If there’s any other advanced stats you think we should be using for the Avs drop them below as well!

(All stats from