It's game day. You're leaving work, ready to sit down with a drink and watch your favorite team play. To make sure you're prepared, you decide to check out the lineups.
You say this just as you realize that the opposing team is starting a rookie goalie and it's his debut. Naturally, your team is going to make him look like an all-star
For this piece I looked at every goalie who had a debut smsin the NHL since 1988. sms( btw, these are tooltips so click or hover over these icons for more info) This amounted to about 350 debuts over 27 years for an average of about 12 goalies per year.
Save % vs Goals Against
First off, I'll look at what the stats were in general for these goalies. Meaning, just plotting out Save %
Another interesting thing to look at is how a now established goalie (Or a once established goalie) performed in his debut. Today, we know these established goalies are legends and are/were some of the best to ever play but did their debut show that? For example, Roberto Luongo had a 1 GAA, 97 SV% night in his debut for Florida against Boston. But while some performed as you'd expect, others didn't. The best example is Chris Osgood. In his debut with Detroit he posted a 7.5 GAA and 67 SV%. Granted, some discrepancies might arise in the visualization of the data due to the averages in SV% and GAA during different time periods, but that will be addressed later.
All-Star or Average
Upon further inspection of the numbers there's actually about a 50/50 shot, considering all things equal, whether the goalie you're playing will play above the league average or below in reference to both SV% GAA. Since 1988, 159 goalies (50.96%) played above the league average SV% and 153 goalies (49.04%) played below the league average. Also since 1988, 154 goalies (49.36%) had a higher GAA than league average while 158 goalies (50.64%) had a below average GAA. So as you can see, when there's a goalie making his debut against your favorite team, you really have no idea what you're in for. This is especially true because there are numerous goalies who went on to have hall of fame careers and play below the league average in their debut.
What fanbase can complain?
Fanbase that can complain the least
And the award for the fanbase that can complain the least goes to the...
Fanbase that can complain the most
And the one you're probably all looking for, the fanbase that can complain the most about facing a debuting goalie...
Can you predict future performance?
Goalies aren't as incredible as we think when they debut. We just tend to rationalize an unkown situation and account for the worst possible scenario, in this case losing. So next time you're facing a new goalie, take a seat, relax and enjoy the game.