With only two days left in the regular season, how can we help ourselves from speculating on who will win the Vezina?
Before there is an uproar or debate rather over the newsworthiness of the topic I will concede that Tim Thomas should and will win the Trophy this season for the second time in three years. However, Saturday’s article is usually reserved for a NHL Goalie Ladder update or an edition of On the Hot Seat and since neither will generally help your team so late in the fantasy hockey season we decided to give props to those who deserved it.
If you decided to organize goaltending statistics by GAA and save percentage Thomas clearly leads all categories. The criteria we used in the past make him the clear-cut winner of this year’s award as he challenges the great Dominik Hasek for the save percentage record — back in 1998-1999 Hasek finished with a .937 SV% in 64 games while Thomas currently sits at .938 with 56 games in the books.
If you are wondering about the workload, you are certainly not alone.
Thomas plays every game like it is his last but has the luxury of a world class backup in Tuukka Rask, who finished last season with a .931 SV% himself and seemed to be the starting goalie entering the season. Back in 1998-1999 Hasek had a journeyman by the name of Dwayne Roloson back him up to a 6-8-2 record with the only other option a young pup by the name of Martin Biron. At that point neither was capable of starting for the team, let alone carrying that team should Hasek had gone down.
So we understand Thomas has had some help, but he also has been sheltered from the competition.
Rather than clutter up this article, simply click this PDF file as Thomas has only started 14 out of a possible 25 games against the rest of the elite netminders in the League. While some of this may have been to shelter his opposing number one, it should be seen as a relatively big reason why he has such stellar numbers. Regardless, despite this sheltering, Thomas fared well posting a 7-4-3 record with a 2.07 GAA but .930 SV%. Clearly he deserves his accolades but Claude Julien gave him a helping hand or two.
If you now decided to sort by a different category, say wins, you would find a few different categories.
Thomas ties for 11th in wins with 12 other netminders of equal or better standing. Those goalies include the elite such as Jonathan Quick, Roberto Luongo, Carey Price, Henrik Lundqvist, Antti Niemi, Ilya Bryzgalov, Marc-Andre Fleury and Cam Ward but also Jimmy Howard, Miikka Kiprusoff, Ryan Miller and Kari Lehtonen. While goalies like Lehtonen and Kiprusoff are invaluable to their team, they will not be confused with Vezina candidates this season. Nevertheless, shouldn’t the goalie who actually wins the most get mentioned for the best goalie in the League award?
Luongo leads the League in wins yet we think he might have gotten some help with Hart Trophy nominee Daniel Sedin and current Hart Trophy winner Henrik Sedin. Ward, Price and Kiprusoff follow Bobby Lou with only one team actually clinching a playoff spot as of this writing. Make no mistake if the Carolina Hurricanes did not have Ward or the Montreal Canadiens were without Price, their teams would be out of the running, respectively.
Could you say that about the Bruins with Rask clearly their future?
Probably not. Furthermore, Ward and Price rank number one and two in shots allowed. They rank one and two in save made. They also rank first in second in games started with Kipper tying Price in that category.
Since neither of these atlas’ of starting goalies have backups as capable of Rask in Justin Peters and Alex Auld they were forced to start so many games and therefore watch their peripherals plummet. In addition, with only three goalies nominated every season these two might find the backseat with Luongo leading in wins, Lundqvist leading in shutouts and Rinne only a few points back in GAA and SV%.
This season has to be the hardest to ever decide a winner despite the winner looking so clear-cut. No matter the nominees or considerations, so many starting goalies will find themselves on the outside looking in which is truly a shame. Moreover, it made our fantasy hockey season even more challenging with so many viable options on every team as likely every owner found themselves with at least one elite netminder.
We hope you enjoyed our latest as much as we enjoyed writing it. If there are glaring omissions let your voice be heard in the comments. Regardless, make sure to take all of the advice in and continue to check our renowned starting goalies section, which is updated all day until game time and follow us on Twitter @DailyFaceoff