Vezina Trophy: National Hockey League’s Most Outstanding Goaltender
Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers: The King is up for the Vezina again after winning the trophy last season. Last year, Henrik deserved the nomination and the win. This year, though, it could be argued that there were some goalies who out-performed Lundqvist and got over-looked in the decision process (Tuukka Rask, for one). Along with his 2 shutouts, Lundqvist had a 2.05 goals against average and a .926 save percentage in his 43 starts of the 48-game season. After a shaky start, he helped the Rangers with their late surge in the season and ended the year with a 24-16-3 record (tied for first in the league in wins). It was his play during their rough patches that kept them in the playoff picture.
Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets: Bobrovsky is the only goalie nominated that did not lead his team into the playoffs. Still, he definitely deserved his spot on this list. He ended his season with the Blue Jackets with a 21-11-6 record. Bobrovsky recorded a .932 save percentage and a 2.00 goals against average. Not to mention, he also had four shutouts in the short season. Compared to the other two goalies nominated, Bobrovsky has them beat in the “Goals against Average” and “Save Percentage” categories. It is pretty impressive for a goalie who was just shipped out of Philly and replaced by Bryzgalov (talk about a slap in the face). Most importantly, he was one of the biggest reasons the Blue Jackets came so close to making the playoffs for the first time in five years. He helped Columbus win 8 out of their last 9 games in the final push for the playoffs. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough, but “Bob” certainly is not to blame.
Antti Niemi of the San Jose Sharks: Looking at stats, it seems like Niemi had it the toughest out of the goalies nominated. He was ranked third in shots faced and saves made. He also spent more time on the ice than any other goaltender. In all his games played, Niemi had four shutouts during the season (tied for second most in the league). He finished with a 24-12-6 record with the Sharks. That record ties Lundqvist for the most wins in the season. Individually, he posted a .924 save percentage and 2.16 goals against average. He also led the nominated goalies in shootout wins with 8. To put the significance of that in perspective, the Sharks made the playoffs by 2 points. Those extra 8 shootout points made all the difference.
Pink Puck Pick: Sergei Bobrovsky. It was a tough call between Bob and Antti Niemi. They both had a tremendous impact on their teams’ success this season. Even though the Blue Jackets didn’t quite make it into the playoffs, Bobrovsky got his team closer than they had been in the last five years. And considering they were beat out by the always-successful Detroit Red Wings, it was a very impressive year for Columbus. Taking into consideration everything Bobrovsky has been through, from losing his spot in Philly and having to beat out Steve Mason in Columbus, it’s hard not to pick him for the Vezina.