Today the National Hockey League announced the finalists for this year’s Vezina Trophy.

The Vezina Trophy is awarded “to the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at his position.” That judgement is in the eyes of the general managers of the 30 NHL clubs who submitted ballots at the conclusion of the regular season. The top three vote-getters are designated as finalists. As with other finalists for other awards being announced this week, the winner will be announced Tuesday, June 24, during the 2014 NHL Awards from Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas.

Georges Vezina 1919-21

Georges Vezina 1919-21

The Vezina Trophy was presented to the NHL in 1926-27 in honor of Georges Vézina, the outstanding Canadiens goaltender, by Leo Durand, Louis Letourneau and Joe Cattarinich–former owners of the Montreal Canadiens. Vézina had collapsed during an NHL game on November 28, 1925, dying of tuberculosis a few months later. Prior to the 1981-82 season the award was given to the goaltender(s) of the team allowing the fewest number of goals during the regular season. That is feat is now acknowledged by the awarding if the Jennings Trophy–which this season went to Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings.

This year’s finalists are all first year finalists–each with impressive statistics. They are listed below in alphabetical order:

Ben Bishop, of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who is having surgery for an injury he received to his hand that prevented him from helping the Lightning during the playoffs this season. However, before his injury he managed to set multiple franchise records while assisting the Lightning to a second-place finishe in the Atlantic Division in his first season as a starting goalie. With his 31st win on March 15 against the New Jersey Devils, he became the Lightning’s all-time leader for wins in a season. He ranked fourth in the NHL in most wins with 37. He also set a Lightning franchise mark in save percentage (.924).

Tuukka Rask, of the Boston Bruins, posted a 36-15-6 record this season and backstopped the Bruins allowing two or fewer goals in 37 of 58 starts, set single-season highs in wins and appearances and had a career-best 10-game point streak from March 20-30 (9-0-1), all helping the Bruins to capture their first Presidents’ Trophy since 1990. He led the Eastern Conference in team defense with just 2.08 goals allowed per game. He is the only goaltender of the three finalists to rank among the NHL’s top five in each of the major statistical categories: first in shutouts (seven); second in save percentage (.930); fourth in goals-against average (2.04) and fifth in wins.

Semyon Varlamov, of the Colorado Avalanche surpassed head coach Patrick Roy’s single-season high of 40 wins, when he played for the Avalanche back in 2000-01, when he earned 41 wins this season—which in addition to setting a franchise record put him first in most wins in a single season among all 30 clubs in the NHL. Varlamov and Roy are the only two goalies in Avalanche history to top the League in wins. He also faced the most shots in a season (2,013) and had the most saves (1,867). His record, when facing 40 or more shots was 7-1-1 and when facing 30 or more shots he was an amazing 32-4-4. He is the first goaltender since Roy was nominated, and ended up as runner-up to Montreal Canadiens Jose Theodore in 2001-02 for the Avalanche.

 

A family historian by profession, Rhonda R. McClure has loved hockey since she was a child in New Hampshire. Any opportunity to combine her love of writing, hockey and research is something she looks forward to with much enthusiasm. She's been accused of seeking out shinny games when there are no other hockey events taking place. She is a member of the Society for International Hockey Research. Follow her on Twitter at @HockeyMaven1917.

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