• PRINT
  • RSS

Baker: My favorites in the Vezina Trophy race

Sunday, 02.12.2012 / 8:27 PM CT / Features
X
Share with your Friends


Baker: My favorites in the Vezina Trophy race
While NHL teams battle for Stanley Cup Playoff positioning, the men in the bulky gear and bulbous masks are also amid a race of their own -- for the Vezina Trophy.

To win it means more than just bragging rights as the regular season's best goalie -- and perhaps leverage in their next contract negotiation. Since a dominant goalie can carry a team deep into the playoffs, the Vezina race is the League's must-watch subplot because the team whose goalie ends up winning the award almost certainly will have an edge in its Cup quest.

The big V is voted on by the League's 30 general managers, who, at the end of the season, fill in a ballot with their three top picks, in order of ranking,  for the goalie who is deemed "the best at this position."

In other words, not the lowest GAA or the lowest save percentage or fewest goals-against (that's the Jennings Trophy) or the most wins. Simply, the best.

Here's my ranking of the current Vezina contenders (and feel free tell me yours below in the comments section):

Favorites:

Henrik Lundqvist
Henrik Lundqvist
Goalie - NYR
RECORD: 25-11-4
GAA: 1.81 | SVP: 0.939
1) Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers: Ask most Eastern Conference shooters who's the hardest goalie to score on right now and they likely will tell you it is the Beast of Broadway. He's got the stats to back it up, and his consistent, hybrid style of play that combines positioning and reaction with such equal aplomb makes it hard for opponents to isolate any flaws.

Unless his perimeter-protecting defense collapses on him, or he suddenly becomes Hank the Tank, he should take the prize.

2) Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators: This Finn is so acrobatic his crease looks like Cirque de Rinne. Erase the Nashville star's wobbly 5-game stretch early in the season and his All-Star absence, and the play of "Pekks" has been nothing short of a Music City Miracle.

He has logged more minutes and made more saves than any other goalie. More mobile than an iPhone, the fast-footed Rinne (who has single-handedly won more than a dozen games the Preds had no business being in) could slide into first position if Nashville continues its winning ways ... and Lundqvist tires down the stretch.

3) Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings: The biggest barrier for the Kings' agile wundergoalie is that only two goalkeepers from the far west have ever won the Vezina (Edmonton's Grant Fuhr in 1988 and Calgary's Mikka Kiprusoff in 2006). But with his unflappable, athletic play behind a hyper-anemic offense (and I'm being nice here) -- and with easily accessible Web video highlights all but erasing the traditional time-zone bias against Westerners -- he could, uh, quickly make West Coast history once again.

Contenders:

* Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins: Never count out Thomas. But his Superman heroics during the B's epic win streak have since waned, and he is getting as much attention for his political statements as for his puck-stopping play.

* Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings: If Howard can come back from his broken finger tout suite and return to his stellar level of play, he could  win a lot of votes.

Plus, if the Wings continue to struggle without him between the pipes, Howard could look even better to voters than he did before his injury.

Author: Ken Baker | NHL.com Goalie Insider

SMASHVILLE CENTRAL

SCHEDULE
 

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS
 

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 CHI 58 36 18 4 160 134 76
2 DAL 55 35 15 5 178 147 75
3 STL 56 30 17 9 133 130 69
4 LAK 53 32 18 3 146 124 67
5 SJS 53 28 20 5 154 143 61
6 ANA 53 26 19 8 120 125 60
7 COL 57 28 25 4 153 158 60
8 NSH 54 25 21 8 139 144 58
9 MIN 54 23 21 10 133 134 56
10 VAN 54 22 20 12 125 144 56
11 ARI 53 24 23 6 139 163 54
12 CGY 53 25 25 3 143 156 53
13 WPG 54 24 27 3 139 157 51
14 EDM 56 22 29 5 138 168 49

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Josi 54 11 27 -3 38
F. Forsberg 54 17 18 -7 35
S. Weber 54 14 21 -5 35
M. Ribeiro 54 6 27 2 33
J. Neal 54 19 13 18 32
M. Ekholm 54 6 18 3 24
R. Ellis 53 6 16 2 22
C. Smith 54 11 7 -2 18
C. Jarnkrok 53 9 8 0 17
C. Wilson 37 4 12 -1 16
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Rinne 20 18 7 .903 2.54
C. Hutton 5 2 1 .916 2.36