Chicago Blackhawks: Corey Crawford GVT And More Ben Smith

NOTE - I compiled the GVT data and wrote this post hours before the Hawks put the smack-down on the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Last hockey season, I took a look at GVT (or Goals Versus Threshold) primarily for Corey Crawford and Marty Turco. And with 31 games remaining, I checked out their GVT again to see how Crawford was progressing. As the PuckStopsHere stated, GVT does some things really well and some things not so well:

All told, the goals versus threshold system ranks goaltenders versus other goaltenders quite well. The calibration with position players is problematic. The system ranks the offensive ability of players well, with minor considerations for defensive ability. It does a reasonable job of incorporating defensemen in the rankings if they score well but it struggles to capture defensive ability.
According to GVT, Corey Crawford was light years ahead of veteran, Marty Turco; a swing of 24.8 goals better to be exact: And Hockey Prospectus ranked Crawford's GVT, for the 2010-11 season, 13th in the top 15 goaltenders in the league.

Although relatively early in the season, Crawford's GVT is -1.5 (no need for a graph) which means he's allowed 1.5 more goals than replacement level. No time to panic... yet. But he is playing closer to replacement level (average) than the talent level he showed us last season. Based on last years GVT (15) and his young NHL career (he's only 26), he has the ability to be a top-ten (maybe top-five) goaltender in the league. But as the Hawks struggle on offense, an average goaltender is not a good mix.

"Get Smith Out There!"
That's what I shouted at Hawks Training Camp Fest... even when I was waiting in line for some nachos (extra peppers, please).

It looks like Ben Smith has recovered from that vicious hit Detroit Red Wing, Brendan Smith gave him during the preseason (let's put an end to Smith-on-Smith violence). Ben Smith has 7 points in 7 games for the Rockford Icehogs. Although he has played in less games than most of his teammates (11), his shooting percentage is 21.1% (4 goals/19 shots). Last season, through 63 games for the Icehogs, his shooting percentage was 17% (19/112). It's hard to see where his true talent level is because his sample size is small. In last season's playoffs, Smith played 7 games, scored 3 goals on 6 shots (50%) which included a game winner. But there is something to Ben Smith besides the small sample size -- his narrative:
Named the Most Outstanding Player in the Frozen Four Tournament with four points (3g-1a) ... Finished the 2007-08 season on a seven-game goal-scoring streak totaling 12 points (7g-6a)...Named to the All-Tournament team at the NCAA Frozen Four in 2007-08 after recording five points (2g-3a)...Earned the Bernie Burke Outstanding Freshman Award at Boston College...Captured Hockey East Rookie of the Month honors for April during the 2006-07 season...Was a member of the 2005 U.S. Under-18 Select Team that finished fourth at the Under-18 Junior World Cup...Played for the U.S. Under-17 Select Team that finished second at the 2004 Under-17
I think Ben Smith has skills that the Hawks could benefit. I'm not saying he can rescue this team from the funk they are in, but he may be able to contribute something.

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