The “Dave Tippett effect”

Updated: August 11, 2012 at 8:33 am by Cam Charron


If you followed my earlier article on the “Ken Hitchcock effect”, you’d have maybe found what I did. A particularly elite coach like Hitchcock can possibly influence his goaltender’s save percentage and make it a little better than the goalie normally expects. Now, the effect isn’t great. I think a lot of people who took a look at St. Louis’ goaltending this season can make the mistake of attributing all of the success of Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak to Hitchcock.

Because Elliott and Halak have had their own success (minor, no doubt, but some general success) in their careers previous to Hitch joining the Blues. Hitchock’s system may have increased their even strength save percentage totals by six points at best and for a goaltender who faces 1500 shots a season, that makes for a difference of about six goals a season, which is worth about a win in the standings.

Tippett Better Than Hitchcock?

But what about Dave Tippett? Mike Smith has been generally average his whole career, except when he’s played behind Tippett in Dallas and, recently this season, Tippett in Phoenix. Meanwhile, Ilya Bryzgalov had a particularly bad year in Philadelphia after spending years as an elite goalie in Phoenix.

So how much of Bryzgalov’s or Smith’s success can be attributed to Tippett? As you’ll see from the charts below, Bryzgalov had a .923 even strength save percentage (EV SV%), a little above the expected NHL average (NHL EVSV%) during his two seasons in Phoenix. His EVSV%+, which normalizes goaltenders by year with .900 being average, was .910 with Tippett.

In his years with Anaheim and Philadelphia, Bryzgalov hasn’t faltered too much. He’s expected a .919 save percentage, posted a .922, for an EVSV%+ of .904. A .910 is definitely better than .904, but that could be random sampling. It may be better to look at the overall work of goalies who worked with Hitchcock and without Hitchcock since 1998 when the NHL began recording even strength shot data.

Here are how goaltenders fared with Dave Tippett during his tenure as an NHL coach in Dallas and Phoenix:

With Tippett

Goalie Faced Saves EV SV% NHL EVSV% EVSV%+
Corey Hirsch 29 25 0.862 0.919 0.839
Curtis McElhinney 33 31 0.939 0.921 0.920
Dan Ellis 26 24 0.923 0.922 0.901
Ilya Bryzgalov 3195 2970 0.930 0.920 0.910
Jason LaBarbera 1160 1069 0.922 0.920 0.901
Johan Hedberg 335 301 0.899 0.915 0.882
Marty Turco 7360 6777 0.921 0.918 0.903
Mike Smith 2778 2571 0.925 0.920 0.906
Ron Tugnutt 710 652 0.918 0.919 0.899

Here is how the same goaltenders did without Tippett:

Without Tippett

Goalie Faced Saves EV SV% NHL EVSV% EVSV%+
Corey Hirsch 326 289 0.887 0.916 0.868
Curtis McElhinney 1197 1080 0.902 0.920 0.881
Dan Ellis 3359 3085 0.918 0.920 0.899
Ilya Bryzgalov 5343 4928 0.922 0.919 0.904
Jason LaBarbera 2104 1919 0.912 0.918 0.893
Johan Hedberg 6954 6346 0.913 0.919 0.893
Marty Turco 2907 2680 0.922 0.918 0.904
Mike Smith 2334 2136 0.915 0.919 0.895
Ron Tugnutt 4601 4228 0.919 0.914 0.905

A lot of the goalies Tippett worked with were below NHL average, something that Hitchcock didn’t have to worry about. As a result, many of the goalies Tippett worked with—Curtis McElhinney, Dan Ellis, Jason LaBarbera, Johan Hedberg, Mike Smith—played below NHL average facing a substantial amount of shots sans Tippett.

Two of those goalies, Smith and LaBarbera, faced over 1000 shots and were over NHL average with Tippett, as were McElhinney and Ellis, though they don’t have the body of work for us to really prove any points. If you total up the goalies in their careers, though, you see something interesting:

Goalies Faced Saves EV SV% NHL EVSV% EVSV%+
With Tippett 15626 14420 0.923 0.919 0.904
Without 29125 26691 0.916 0.918 0.898

The “Tippett effect” may be worth about .06 of a percentage in EV SV%, which is a little more than Hitchcock, but at nine goals for an average of 1500 shots against, isn’t enough to turn Smith or Bryzgalov from slugs into superstars.


I think the thing we can say with the “Hitchcock effect” and the “Tippett effect” both producing similar results is that the best defensive-minded coaches don’t necessarily turn good goalies into great goalies or bad goalies into good goalies. I think they can, at best, turn average goalies into above average goalies.

So, I guess it’s something to keep in mind when we look at goalie statistics. None are perfect, but I still think that the giant “up” years by Smith and Elliott are more due to random chance than Ken Hitchcock or Dave Tippett finding the right stuff in their systems. Both are probably due for a regression next season.