There really wasn't a hell of a lot of mystery to this year's NHL Awards. T-shirts or not, Alexander Ovechkin was going to clean up. Patrick Kane was a favorite to win the Calder. Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau was in a competitive category, but many anticipated his victory. And if Nicklas "Lindstrom" lost, we'd finally have that post-Stanley Cup riot in Detroit that was sorely lacking this summer.
The only real controversy from last night's awards? New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur winning the Vezina over Evgeni Nabokov of the San Jose Sharks, whose supporters feel like their man has been robbed.
Here's the official voting for the 2007-2008 Vezina Trophy, with points and 1st-2nd-3rd votes. Keep in mind that the League's The 30 general managers voted on the Vezina Trophy:
1. Martin Brodeur, N.J., 113, (15-12-2)
2. Evgeni Nabokov, S.J., 106, (13-13-2)
3. Henrik Lundqvist, NYR, 13, (1-0-8)
4. J.S. Giguere, ANA, 11, (0-1-8)
5. Miikka Kiprusoff, CGY, 7, (1-0-2)
6. Niklas Backstrom, MIN, 6, (0-2-0)
7. Roberto Luongo, VAN, 5, (0-1-2)
8. Cristobal Huet, WSH, 4, (0-1-1)
9. Carey Price, MTL, 2, (0-0-2)
Tim Thomas, BOS, 2, (0-0-2)
11. Chris Osgood, DET, 1, (0-0-1)
(What, exactly, did Pascal Leclaire do to piss off the world?)
As you can see, the vote between Marty and Nabby was damn close; a margin that Bleeding Teal felt was heartbreaking. But others believe Brodeur is currently shining up Nabokov's trophy.
Randy Hahn of the Seagate Broadcaster Blog wonders if Nabokov was robbed based on the numbers:
No disrespect to Martin Brodeur who is a great goaltender and all but are you kidding me? Evgeni Nabokov played in just as many games as Brodeur last season (77) and had 2 more wins (46), a lower goals against average (2.14) and had 6 shutouts to Brodeur's 4. How in the heck did Martin Brodeur win the Vezina Trophy as best goaltender in the league over Nabby? It makes you wonder if the Eastern Conference General Mangers even bother to stay up late enough to watch Sharks games. Say what you want about the stats. The single most important statistic for a goaltender is wins. Nabby led the league in W's. End of story.
He makes a fair point in regard to East Coast bias, especially with the unbalanced schedule. And there is the issue of reputation, as this is Brodeur's fourth Vezina in five seasons; Marty saw the same thing happen during Dominik Hasek's run on hardware in the 1990s.
But Brodeur posted a 44-27-6 record with a 2.17 goals-against average, .920 save percentage and four shutouts; he was second in wins (44) to Nabokov, who had 46. So let's revisit Hahn's basic point: Are wins the single most important statistic for a goaltender?
In 2006, Marty Brodeur led the NHL in wins with 43; Miikka Kiprusoff had 42. So why did the Calgary Flames goalie win the Vezina? Perhaps it had something to do with a 2.07 GAA to Brodeur's 2.57.
In 1997, Patrick Roy led the NHL in wins with 38. But Hasek won the Vezina with 37 wins and a 2.27 GAA to Roy's 2.32. And yet Brodeur lost the award with a 1.88 GAA. Good lord.
Wins are far from the standard for this award. But in Nabokov's defense, the reputation argument could be a fair one. Consider that Brodeur was voted to the second-team on the NHL all-star squads with 475 points; Nabokov was named to the first team with 523 votes.
This team is selected by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association. Clearly, if the Vezina was theirs to decide, it would have gone to the Sharks keeper.