Evgeni Nabokov is old enough to remember a time when there were only two numbers that mattered to goaltenders: Wins and goals-against average.
He piled up loads of the first and always was among the NHL leaders in the second category during his decade with the Sharks.
Now there’s not only save percentage that stands as the big statistic for a goaltender but even-strength save percentage as the analytic marker by which most goaltenders are measured. Nabokov currently sits with a .907 EV%, as it’s known, and that is third-lowest among goaltenders with a minimum of eight starts
“To me, the first number is always the Ws. Always,” he said. “And it’s also about how I feel. There are games like in Ottawa [on Nov. 1] when you’re fighting it the whole game but you feel like, ‘OK, we’re still in it, I just need one save here.’ And you make it. Then you make a couple more to get to OT. Then you make one there, you get to the shootout, you make one or two, and you win. That’s the bottom line: Do enough to get the team a W.”
Nabokov is 5-4-3 this season, so he’s not a total disaster, and that allows him to keep his easy-going manner. He says young goalies today can get too wrapped up in the numbers.
“When it’s contract time, every GM is going to talk save percentage,” he said. “If you’re 21, 22 years old and that’s all you hear, you can become a little too focused on that.”