If you haven't heard, Clint Irwin tied the record for most shutouts in a season by a Colorado Rapids goalkeeper with his 10th clean sheet of the season on Saturday, a 1-0 win against the Galaxy. I don't think it's asking too much to expect that he's going to break it at some point in the next six games either, especially with a home game against road-weary Vancouver among the final slate.
Clint has been a very solid keeper for the Rapids this season, but his rise to fame has been helped a bit by Colorado's defense being much better this season than it was last.
This is in no way discounting some of the amazing saves he's made on the season, of course. Still, it's fairly easy to notice the disparity in the amount of shots on goal that the team has allowed when you compare this season to, oh, let's pick a season out of a hat here, last season.
Let's take a look at 2012, ignoring the two point something games that Steward Ceus played. Last season, Matt Pickens ended up making 107 saves and allowing in 49 goals. (The team as a whole allowed 50, but one of them was given up by Ceus at the end of the 4-1 thrashing at home from the Earthquakes at the tail end of the season.) That's 156 shots that the Rapids allowed to get at their goalkeeper in the 32 games that Pickens played.
Compare that to this season thus far, discounting the game that Ceus played and the game that Pickens both started and finished in. Irwin has made 75 saves so far with six games to go, while the team has allowed in only 26 goals. (The team has allowed 29 as a whole, but lolCeus and that awful performance against Philadelphia by Pickens accounted for three of those.) Math it out and we've only got 101 shots allowed.
Remember why Pickens was the team MVP last year? Because considering the number of shots the defense was letting him see, it was a miracle he gave up fewer than 50. With far fewer shots making it through to the goalie, it's much easier to predict a win and, with a good enough keeper like Irwin between the pipes, a good number of shutouts.
This could certainly change with six games to go, but they would need to allow nine shots (9.1 shots, ya damn nerds) on goal every single game in order to catch up to last year's number. It's worth noting that three of those games are at home, where the Rapids have been very tight defensively. This bodes pretty well for the homestretch.