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Posted at 10:52 AM ET, 12/07/2011

Are Tomas Vokoun and Michal Neuvirth on the decline or just going through simultaneous slumps?


When the Capitals signed Tomas Vokoun for the bargain-basement price of $1.5 million, I thought they had a solid Vezina candidate on board and one of the best netminding tandems in the league. 

So far, that hasn't been the case. Vokoun and Michal Neuvirth have an underwhelming .896 save percentage and 3.09 GAA.  

Is it possible it's just two goalies experiencing slumps that just happened to coincide with Vokoun signing with Washington? Not sure, so let's ask the Monte Carlo Machine.

Specifically, I'm going to simulate 10,000 26-game seasons based on the career save percentages of Vokoun and Neuvirth. For each game they have started in 2011-12, I will use a random number generator to determine what their save percentage was based on their historical performances to date. Then, I will average those games to see if both players were at or below their actual 2011-12 averages. Finally, I will repeat this process 10,000 times and count how many simulations contained averages at or below the actual 2011-12 save percentages, which will give us the probability that the declines of Vokoun and Neuvirth have been due to random fluctuations in performance.

On to the results! 

Out of 10,000 simulations, 2,457 contained stretches in which both Vokoun and Neuvirth simultaneously put up average save percentages as low as they've posted so far in real life. This means there's a 24.6 percent chance that Vokoun and Neuvirth currently have the same inherent “save skills” as their post-lockout averages suggest, but have merely gone through two simultaneous slumps. 

That is higher than I thought it would be, so it seems unlikely that either goalies’ skills have declined. Plus, the blueliners are doing a better job at not only keeping the volume of attempts down, but the percentage that come from the dangerous areas of the ice is lower as well, so it doesn't appear they are responsible for the drop in save percentage either. That's good news for fans, who could (finally) be treated to some consistent Vezina-type performances in the near future.

Follow Neil on Twitter: @ngreenberg.

By Neil Greenberg  |  10:52 AM ET, 12/07/2011

 
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