Never mind the fact that the St. Louis Blues tied for the second-best point total in the NHL this season. Don't think about the best goals against average in the league. Forget that the Blues tied a modern NHL record with 15 shutouts.
The Vezina Trophy will be awarded to one of three goaltenders. Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers, Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings and Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators are the finalists for the award. It will be voted upon by the NHL's 30 general managers for the best goaltender at his position.
Elliott's stats are impressive. He had a miniscule 1.56 goals against average, the best in the NHL for the 2011-2012 season. He posted nine shutouts including a franchise record 241:33 without giving up a goal late in the season. Elliott had three shutouts in a row over that streak.
The only thing Elliott didn't do that the other three candidates accomplished was that he started only 36 regular season games out of 82. Quick started 69, Lundqvist saw 62 and Rinne had 72. That shouldn't diminish a resurgent team that hasn't seen this much success in a decade.
If Elliott can't win the hardware, then I think it should go to Quick. He finished second in goals against average over the regular season. The Kings surged into the playoffs despite being an eight seed. They beat the President's Trophy winners in five games when the Vancouver Canucks were sent to the golf course in the first round.
For Quick to win the Vezina Trophy, it would be a mild upset. The other two candidates are on better teams. The Kings battled four other Pacific Division teams for playoff spots and finished two points behind the Phoenix Coyotes and a three seed.
Elliott was one of two top goaltenders on a team that surged to the top of the standings after three months of improvement. The Blues have no superstars and rely on a total team effort to win. Head coach Ken Hitchcock took over a team floundering a 6-7 and turned them into an elite team in the Western Conference.
Yes, Elliott only started 36 games. That shoudn't mean he isn't an award-winning goaltender. He's always going to be one of the best in the hearts of Blues' fans. The other goaltenders are deserving of the award. But without Elliott in the net, the Blues don't finish with such an impressive point total or even make the playoffs.
William Browning was born in St. Louis and has been a lifelong Blues fan.
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