January 12, 2010
As with any awards predictions and prognostications, there are some problems with our buddy Adrian Dater's mid-term choices on Versus.com (which we're fairly certain DirecTV subscribers can access).
But most of the problems are subjective quibbles based on our own observations ... such as Martin Brodeur(notes) of the New Jersey Devils having the inside track for both the Hart Trophy for MVP and the Vezina for top goalie over Ryan Miller(notes) of the Buffalo Sabres.
The most amazing thing about Brodeur continues to be the man's excellence despite playing almost every single game. He's the Cal Ripken of NHL goalies, as reliable and predictably good as the French onion soup at Gibby's in Montreal.
Keep in mind what the Hart Trophy is supposed to signify - most valuable player to his team. The Sabres would certainly not be where they are so far without Miller, and it's probable that the Devils have a better team in front of Brodeur than Miller does in Buffalo.
Sorry, we're still going with Brodeur. The man is 37 and plays every single night. As of Jan. 9, he had two more wins than Miller (27-25 - granted, with two more games played) and just as many shutouts (five). Oh, and the last time the two goalies faced each other (Dec. 7), Marty shut out Miller and the Sabres 3-0 in Buffalo. Yeah, Miller still had a better saves percentage and slightly better GAA. But we're still going with Marty.
So, wait, he's going with Brodeur then? Just quintuple-checking.
Dater's either a Marty fanboy or just being his usual contrarian self, because there's simply no way Brodeur ranks ahead of Miller for either the Vezina or the Hart.
First, the basic stats:
So Brodeur wins on ... well, "wins." Oh, and assists. Miller? Pretty much the better goalie across the board.
Of course, wins are a funny thing when you're one of the best skills competition goalies in the brief history of the shootout, as Brodeur is:
Even here, the numbers are close. If you place a premium on the shootout, Brodeur has the edge, for what that's worth.
But ignoring the obvious statistic advantage for Miller, let's revisit Dater's justification:
"The Sabres would certainly not be where they are so far without Miller, and it's probable that the Devils have a better team in front of Brodeur than Miller does in Buffalo."
Which is to say that even after swapping out Brent Sutter for Jacques Lemaire, the Devils were still a defending division champion while the Sabres appeared to be a bubble team, if that. Yet Buffalo is two points out of the conference top spot occupied by the Devils heading into tonight ... without a player that's scored more than 12 goals or amassed more than 40 points on the season.
Look, they're both worthy candidates for the Vezina and the Hart, which neither of them will likely win because of the inherent anti-goalie bias that comes with the award. But Miller's been the better of the two through the midterm. Wonder which one will be the better goalie in Vancouver...