Fri Apr 22 12:33pm EDT
Tim Thomas(notes) of the Boston Bruins and Pekka Rinne(notes) of the Nashville Predators have been presumptive Vezina Trophy finalists for most of the season. The intrigue for the 2010-11 award was over who ended up with the third nomination.
Luongo, Rinne and Thomas are the three finalists for the 2010-11 Vezina Trophy, which is awarded "to the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at his position," the National Hockey League announced Friday.
Keep in mind that this isn't a Professional Hockey Writers Association award; instead, it's the general managers of the 30 NHL clubs that submitted ballots.
There's going to be some outcry here over a few snubs. Carey Price(notes) is chief among them. He set a Montreal Canadiens record for games played by a goalie with 72 and posted a 2.35 GAA with a .923 save percentage and four eight shutouts. He tied with Luongo in wins with 38. Factor in all the pressure of replacing Jaroslav Halak(notes) and wearing that uniform, and Price had a very solid case.
Out of these three finalists, who wins?
Why Roberto Luongo Deserves the Vezina
From the NHL:
Luongo backstopped the Canucks to their finest regular season in franchise history, capturing the Presidents' Trophy for best record and posting the lowest team goals-against average (2.20). Luongo went 38-15-7 in 60 appearances, registering the best goals-against average in his 11-year NHL career (2.11) and his top save percentage since joining the Canucks in 2006-07 (.928). He tied for the League lead in victories, ranked second in goals-against average and fourth in save percentage. Luongo is a Vezina finalist for the third time, having finished third in the voting in 2004 and second in 2007.
Luongo made mighty leaps in his GAA and save percentage from last season, but let's face it: Even with the injuries, the Canucks had one of the better blue lines in the NHL in front of him. He started 60 games and, thus, was only 12th in the league in shots faced (1,753).
So there's a case to be made against Luongo, but there's also something to be said for the stellar numbers he put up this season. In any other season, a 2.11 GAA is going to get you the Vezina. But the competition's fierce.
Why Pekka Rinne Deserves the Vezina
From the NHL:
Rinne played a critical role in securing the Predators' sixth playoff berth in the past seven seasons by registering career-best totals in all major categories, going 33-22-9 with a 2.12 goals-against average, .930 save percentage and six shutouts in 64 games. He ranked second among NHL goaltenders in save percentage and placed third in goals-against average. Beginning with a 4-1 win at Minnesota on New Year's Eve, the first-time Vezina Trophy finalist started 42 of the Predators' final 46 games, allowing two goals or fewer 28 times. He posted 25 wins in that span, second in the League behind San Jose's Antti Niemi(notes) (27).
Ask anyone tangentially associated with the Predators this season, and they'll tell you that Rinne wasn't just a Vezina candidate but their MVP.
One really impressive stat: His .912 save percentage when the Predators are shorthanded, second only to Tomas Vokoun(notes) (.925) for goalies with at least 50 starts. Luongo (.898) and Thomas (.889) are well behind.
Why Tim Thomas Deserves the Vezina
From the NHL:
Thomas enjoyed a record-setting bounceback season after undergoing off-season hip surgery. He won his first eight decisions, which broke a club record set by Tiny Thompson in 1937-38, and won his first nine road games -- becoming the first NHL goaltender to do so since Chicago's Glenn Hall in 1965-66. The 2009 Vezina Trophy winner finished the season with a 35-11-9 record and .938 save percentage, eclipsing Dominik Hasek's(notes) .937 with Buffalo in 1998-99 as the best since the statistic was introduced in 1976-77. Thomas also led all goaltenders in goals-against average (2.00) and ranked second in shutouts (nine).
For most of the season, Thomas flirted with a GAA under 2.00 and a save percentage of over .940 percent; his .9382 save percentage is still an NHL record since it began tracking the stat.
He has some rough patches in 2011 and only started 55 games; then again, he only started 54 when he won the award in 2008-09.
Plus, the man knows how to celebrate:
Thomas. His numbers are the best in a season where goalies put up some damn good numbers. Plus, he's a great redemption story, going from Vezina winner to backup to trade bait to, well, Vezina winner.