(Photo credit: Amy Irvin, 38 Photography)
How good is Michal Neuvirth? He’s certainly stepped up his play and, regardless of whether or not Dave Hakstol wants to admit it, has made a case to be a #1 goalie. Of course, riding the success of last season, Steve Mason has also made a case to be a #1 goalie. The Flyers have two guys who are capable of being starters, and right now, that’s a good thing. The simple solution is to alternate them, and let the hot hand play a bit more. There is no controversy.
How good is Neuvirth’s start?
Seven other goalies have played 15 games like Neuvirth has and sustained .935 Save Percentage across a full season, and only one of them, Tim Thomas, had a true starter’s workload. In other words, if Neuvirth sustains this level of play, he’d have a historically good season.
For his career, Neuvirth is a .914 goalie which is roughly league average over the same time span. This season shows his talent range is more likely to fall in the slightly above league average territory. At even strength, he’s a career .924 goalie, who currently is running a .945, which is a huge jump.
So, Neuvirth is heavily outpacing his career expectations. His early results are far better than my expectations for him from the off-season.
The idea here is to assume that Neuvirth has not magically transformed himself into Hasek. This is why Dave Hakstol won’t commit to Neuvirth as the starter, because while he’s got the hot hand, he’s just not likely to sustain it.
Just as Mason has underplayed his talent level due to playing in the Panthers game when distracted by a personal issue and dropping a bad game recently against NYI, Neuvirth has played above his talent level.
This isn’t to say Neuvirth isn’t good, he is. He’s a good goalie, who is likely heavily overplaying his talent level. He’s good, just not historically good. Of course, I will gladly eat my words if Neuvirth ends up re-writing some goalie records this season.