As mentioned earlier, the NHL announced its Vezina Trophy finalists this morning — New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist, Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick and Nashville’s Pekka Rinne.
The nominations came as no real surprise given how well each goaltender has played this season, and what unique resumes each brings to the table: Lundqvist was the MVP of the best team in the Eastern Conference and the No. 2 squad in the NHL, Quick won 35 games and made the playoffs despite L.A. having the league’s second-worst offense and Rinne played more than any goalie in the league, leading in appearances (73) and wins (43).
Before we get to the vote, some things to consider:
— NHL GMs vote on the Vezina, not the Professional Hockey Writers Association. This is key, because there’s a long-held belief that Western Conference goalies (see: Quick, Jonathan) fail to get proper recognition because by the time they play, most GMs are passed out in a recliner.
— To that point: 17 of the last 20 Vezina winners have come from the Eastern Conference.
— Snubs? Not really. This has to be one of the strongest (and most obvious) trio of finalists in recent memory. You could make the case for Phoenix’s Mike Smith or St. Louis’ Brian Elliott — both had outstanding seasons — but to do that you’d have to remove one of Lundqvist, Quick and/or Rinne…and that’s a tough sell.
— None of the three finalists have won a Vezina before. This is Quick’s first-ever nomination; Rinne was a finalist for the first time last season while this is Lundqvist’s fourth time at the dance. Could be why many figure it’s his award to lose.
— The last Rangers goalie to win a Vezina was John Vanbiesbrouck in 1985-86.
— No King and/or Predator has ever won.
Okay, to the poll…
Oshie’s hat trick lets Caps just barely squeak by Penguins in OT
This series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals might be headlined by Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, but as many have said in the lead-up to tonight’s opener, there is so much more to this second round matchup than that. Washington’s 4-3 overtime victory in Game 1 tonight could be offered up as Exhibit A.
This game had everything except big offensive showings from Crosby and Ovechkin. They had their moments, but in the end combined for just one assist.
What we got instead was a hat trick by T.J. Oshie that was completed with a game-winning goal that made it past the line by such a narrow margin that it warranted a video review:
Murray on the goal: "I don't know how the ref that called it a goal could have seen it from his angle. I think I had it."
For the first 30 minutes of Game 1 between Pittsburgh and Washington it looked like goaltenders Matt Murray and Braden Holtby might outshine these star-studded offenses. Then the floodgates opened up, if only for a moment.
Washington already had a 1-0 lead going into the second frame courtesy of Andre Burakovsky‘s first marker of the 2016 playoffs, but Ben Lovejoy and Evgeni Malkin scored back-to-back goals within the span of 57 seconds midway through the second period to tilt the scale in Pittsburgh’s favor. That lead didn’t last for long though as Capitals forward T.J. Oshie got a breakaway opportunity and took full advantage of it.
In total, there were three goals scored in the span of just 90 seconds and you can see all of them below:
After that sequence, the 2-2 tie held for the remainder of the frame. However, Oshie was able to reassert Washington’s edge just 3:23 minutes into the third period.