NHL Power Rankings: 3 Reasons the Capitals Are Better in Goal Than the Flyers

Joel ProsserCorrespondent IJuly 20, 2011

NHL Power Rankings: 3 Reasons the Capitals Are Better in Goal Than the Flyers

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    Both the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers are perennial contenders in the Eastern Conference. And yet both are let down every spring by their goaltending.

    Resolving to fix this weak spot, the Capitals went out and signed a free agent goalie they were very familiar with in Thomas Vokoun. Vokoun (35), is a veteran that the Caps saw often as he backstopped division rival Florida.

    The Flyers took more drastic action. In a series of blockbuster trades, the Flyers cleared cap space to land Ilya Bryzgalov as their new starter. Bryzgalov (31) played for the Phoenix Coyotes and Anaheim Ducks in the past.

    So which team is better in goal now?

Regular Season Statistics

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    Vokoun: 262-267-76 with a 2.56 GAA and a 0.917 save percentage

    vs

    Bryzgalov: 156-116-35 with a 2.53 GAA and 0.916 save percentage

    While Bryzgalov has a better winning percentage, they are almost identical in terms of goals against average and save percentage.

    This difference can be attributed to Brygalov playing on better teams (Anaheim, Phoenix) than Vokoun (Nashville, Florida), especially in the last few years.

    Advantage: Draw

Playoff Statistics

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    Vokoun: 3-8 with a 2.47 GAA and a 0.922 save percentage

    vs

    Bryzgalov: 12-13 with a 2.55 GAA and a 0.917 save percentage

    Before discussing playoff statistics, it should be noted that Bryzgalov does have a Stanley Cup ring, albeit one earned as a backup.

    Vokoun has a minor edge in save percentage and goals against average, but his record is far worse than Bryzgalov's record.

    This can largely be attributed to the years when Bryzgalov was backing up Gigeure in Anaheim, and would get a few starts behind a very good Anaheim team that boasted Chris Pronger, Scott Neidermayer, Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Teemu Selanne.

    Vokoun in comparison was playing behind a team without any big names in Nashville.

    If you compare Bryzgalov's recent record in the post-season when playing for Phoenix, which is comparable in terms of talent to the Nashville teams that Vokoun played on, then you can truly see that Vokoun is the better goalie.

    During his tenure in Phoenix, Bryzgalov was 3-8 in the playoffs with a 3.73 GAA and a 0.893 save percentage.

    Hardly the numbers most people would associate with a goalie that could push a good team over the top.

    Advantage: Capitals

Cap Hit

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    Vokoun: $1,500,000

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    Bryzgalov: $5,666,667

    Its a sad fact, but salary cup numbers are almost as important as actual on ice performance. 

    Here, Vokoun is the clear winner. Signed at a very affordable rate, Washington has just over four million dollars more to spend on their skaters than Philadelphia has.

    Four million dollars might not buy you much in today's over priced free agent pool, but its better than nothing.

    Also, Philadelphia had to trade away Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, a pair of guys who put up a combined 132 points last year, in order to make room for Bryzgalov and his salary demands.

    Even if you think Bryzgalov is the better goalie (although he isn't statistically), is the difference between him and Vokoun enough to warrant the four million dollar difference in cap hits? And I'm not even going to talk about the term of Bryzgalov's contract.

    Advantage: Capitals

Summary

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    It's clear that, at best, Bryzgalov and Vokoun are equivalent goalies. When you take into account the strengths of the teams that they have played for, then Vokoun comes out ahead, especially in the playoffs.

    Bryzgalov does have some intangibles, notably a Stanley Cup ring, but he also comes with a huge financial commitment.

    Ultimately, whoever gets farther in the spring of 2012 will be judged the better goalie, but right now, it looks like the Caps got a deal in goal, and the Flyers got fleeced.

    Advantage: Capitals