It was not all that long ago when an National Hockey League goaltender with a save percentage above 90 percent was considered to have an above-average season. In more recent years, that has crept up beyond 91 percent and 92 percent is now increasingly used as a benchmark by NHL teams.
The evolution has been extraordinary. If you go back to the time period of the mid-1980s to 1992-93, a save percentage in the neighborhood of 90 percent and a goals against average around 3.00 would make a goalie a Vezina Trophy candidate.
Today's NHL game is much more highly structured than it was in the past. That means less skating room, fewer prime scoring chances and a large-scale decrease in east-west play in favor of a north-south forecheck and back-pressure game. Goaltenders have gotten bigger and bigger, and better athletes are recruited for the position than in the past.