By Brendan Batchelor – The Giants are trending in the right direction. After a slow start to the season, the Vancouver club completed a successful road trip with four straight wins in Alberta a couple of weeks back and have now won six of their last nine games. They’re back in the hunt in the BC Division, and while there are many reasons for that, the biggest one – in my opinion – is the play of goaltender Ryan Kubic.
The numbers back it up, too.
The St. Andrews, Manitoba native has been the goaltender of record for all seven Giants victories this season, but I want to look at his save percentage.
Right now, it’s sitting at a respectable 0.902 which ranks Kubic at 21st in the league in that stat category. But it’s not about where he is right now, it’s about how he got there.
Kubic’s save percentage through the first three games of the year was 0.822 after he allowed 17 goals on 96 shots. It was not the start that he, nor the team, wanted. Vancouver went 0-3.
But since those three contests, Kubic has been aces. Make no mistake, it takes a lot of work to recover your save percentage by 80 points.
In the last nine games in particular, Kubic’s save percentage sits at an impressive 0.930, and that includes the 5-4 loss to the Tri-City Americans on October 23rd when he allowed five goals on 19 shots and was pulled. If you take that game out of the equation, he’s a 0.945.
Also, consider that Kubic leads the WHL in shots faced, saves, and minutes played. When you’re playing that much, seeing that much rubber and stopping that many pucks, it’s not a coincidence.
And save percentage is the best stat that we have, short of advanced analytics, to track a goaltender’s performance. It tells you much more about a goalie’s play than goals against average does.
For example, a tender could have an atrocious goals against average from allowing six goals in a game, but if he faced 60 shots, his save percentage would still be 0.900. Cut that shot total in half, and his save percentage would drop by 100 points while his GAA would remain unchanged.
Mathematics aside, the point I’m trying to make is that Kubic has been steady, consistent and reliable both at the Langley Events Centre and on the road.
With five straight home games coming up against five different opponents, the G-Men will count on their goalie to give them a chance to win every night. Kubic is doing that and more, and with a successful home stand over the next few weeks, this team could be in a much stronger position in the standings by the time we hit mid-November.
With Kubic performing in the crease, and Vancouver’s offensive weapons like Tyler Benson, Radovan Bondra and Ty Ronning rounding into form, one thing is for certain. It’s going to be fun to watch.