Tag: Vezina Trophy

tim thomas vezina

Poll: Who will win the 2012 Vezina Trophy?


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…

Lundqvist, Quick and Rinne are your Vezina Trophy finalists

Quick Lundqvist

In a year where there was no shortage of outstanding goaltending performances, the NHL has narrowed its Vezina Trophy candidate list to three ‘tenders — New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist, Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick and Nashville’s Pekka Rinne.

The trio of candidates ensures a first-time winner, though Lundqvist has been nominated three times prior while Rinne was a finalist in 2010-11. Quick has never been nominated for the Vezina.

As for the candidates…


He appeared in 62 games for the Rangers — winning a career-high 39 — and backstopped New York to first place in the Eastern Conference since 1993-94. “King Henrik” finished with a 1.97 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage, finishing in the top four in wins, GAA, save percentage and shutouts (eight).


The 26-year-old carried the Kings throughout the season and was instrumental in getting them the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. He played a career-high 69 games and had 35 of L.A.’s 40 wins this season, finishing with a 1.95 GAA, .929 save percentage and a stunning 10 (yeah, ten) shutouts.

More, from NHL.com:

His accomplishments came with almost no margin for error, as the Kings were 29th in the League in scoring at 2.29 goals per game. And while he had 34 losses in regulation, overtime or shootouts, the Kings scored two goals or fewer in 15 of them, and one goal or less in nine.


The lanky Finn was the league’s workhorse netminder this year, playing in 73 games and recording an NHL-best 43 wins. He was seventh with a .923 save percentage while facing the most shots in the League (2,153) and also had a 2.39 GAA with five shutouts.

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Poll: Who will win the 2012 Vezina Trophy?

Greatest goalie generation? Why this is a special time for American netminding

Boston Bruins Victory Parade

If you ask me, this is a golden era of goaltending for hockey. While the “Dead Puck Era” produced better numbers in many cases, it’s hard to imagine a time in which so many teams had so many solid-to-great goalies. Maybe that might make it tougher for individuals to stand out, but there really aren’t a whole lot of teams who are just flat-out “lost” at the position anymore. There aren’t many squads that need to camouflage Dan Cloutier-type liabilities in net.

We could debate the bigger picture merits of goalies all day, but there’s one thing you’ll have a really tough time making me dismiss: this is the highest point for American hockey goaltending ever. One could argue that is true from both a quality and quantity standpoint. With all due respect to the legendary Olympic run of Jim Craig, scattered talents throughout older times and a solid recently past era that included Tom Barrasso, John Vanbiesbrouck and Mike Richter, this is a peak generation for U.S. netminding.

Let’s take a look at a list of the most prominent active American goaltenders to drive the point home.

Tim Thomas

It’s been said over and over again, but it never really gets old: Thomas put together a combined playoff and postseason run for the ages this year. He generated a record-breaking .938 save percentage during the regular season and somehow found a way to top that by reaching the .940 mark in the playoffs. Oh yeah, he also won the Vezina Trophy, Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup in the process. It isn’t outrageous to wonder if Thomas literally put together the best single season and playoff run an NHL goalie ever enjoyed, although it’s tough to be sure because different scoring eras fudge the numbers (we’re looking at you, high-scoring 1980’s).

Thomas might not be a traditional butterfly goalie, but his “redneck style” and resilient journey to the NHL make him the American dream in leg pads.

source: Getty ImagesRyan Miller

If you just flat-out refuse to admit that an unorthodox goalie is the best in the world, then Miller provides another example of an American netminder who is clearly at the top of the form. While Thomas owned just about everything that had to to with 2010-11, Miller was the darling of the 2009-10 season, including the 2010 Olympics. He carried the U.S. to a surprising silver medal after helping them make it within a famous Sidney Crosby overtime goal of the gold and took home the 2010 Vezina Trophy as well.

For those counting at home, the last three Vezina Trophies went to American goalies: Thomas twice and Miller once. The closest example of that happening before was when Barrasso won it in 1984 and Vanbiesbrouck took it in 86.

source: Getty ImagesJimmy Howard

This class of American goalies runs deep. Howard might not roll of your tongue when you’re naming the NHL’s elite, but he’s the present and future of Detroit’s goaltending. The past has been pretty sweet, too; he’s currently riding two consecutive 37-win seasons. After his stats slipped a bit from the 09-10 to 10-11 regular season, Howard responded with a .923 save percentage in the 2011 playoffs.

Jonathan Quick

Jonathan Bernier couldn’t win the Jonathan Championship from Quick last season and it’s going to be tough for Bernier to usurp the steady American next season. Quick  won 39 games in 09-10 and 35 last season while improving his individual numbers along the way. The Connecticut product could rise in many peoples’ eyes if he comes through in what looks to be a promising 2011-12 season for the Kings.

source: APCraig Anderson

The jury seems to be out on Anderson, but one cannot deny his potential after he carried the Colorado Avalanche to a surprise playoff berth in 09-10. The Ottawa Senators made a big investment in Anderson and he might just have the tools to make that pay off.

Ben Bishop, Brian Boucher, Jack Campbell, Scott Clemmensen, Ty Conklin, Rick DiPietro, Brent Johnson and Al Montoya

The long list of backups and/or emerging prospects might push this era over the edge. Boucher and Johnson rank among the better journeyman backups in the league while Conklin isn’t far behind. Bishop is an over-sized goalie for St. Louis while Clemmensen signed an over-sized contract with Florida. DiPietro’s health is a problem and his contract is a punchline, but there was a time when he was an All-Star goalie. Campbell and Montoya are former first round draft picks we’ll probably see more of in the future. If nothing else, more American born goalies are getting work than ever before.


Again, if you ask me, this marks the highest point for American goaltending at both the elite level (three straight Vezina trophies) and from a sheer quantity standpoint. I’m curious to hear counterarguments to this point, though, so feel free to light some logical fireworks in the comments.