An early look at the Vezina Trophy race

Updated: February 10, 2015 at 8:00 am by Cam Lewis

We’re into the final stretch of the season, and as playoff races heat up, so do the races for individual awards. In terms of the Vezina Trophy for the league’s top goaltender, there has been a handful of really strong goaltending performances this season, but the race appears to be between three guys who have unmatched value to their respective teams. 

Let’s take a look.

Honorable Mentions:

Like I said, there have been a whole bunch of really good goaltending performances this season. I’m going to start off by putting Marc-Andre Fleury, Tukkaa Rask, Roberto Luongo, Michael Hutchinson, and the last few weeks of Devan Dubnyk in the honourable mentions category — in no particular order. 

You have to give credit to Fleury. He currently leads the league in shutouts with eight, and boasts a save percentage of 0.922 and a goals against average of 2.25. I mean, regular season statistics mean absolutely nothing to his doubters, but those shutouts represent half of the wins he needs to win the Stanley Cup, right?! If he can do this come spring time and help the Penguins to another championship, he’ll silence a lot of critics. Of course, the playoffs are a totally different animal, regardless, Fleury has had a strong season. Also, it feels really weird not having Rask in my top three. He’s really heated up recently, and he’s had a strong season overall, but it hasn’t been good enough to warrant Vezina attention. Same goes for Luongo. Well, I’m not as surprised that he isn’t in Vezina contention, but he’s also had a pretty strong season.

Hutchinson and Dubnyk are a couple guys I want to give a shout out to because this season appears to be their respective coming out parties. Dubnyk has been around for a while, but just a year ago, he almost found himself out of the league as he was relegated to a backup role for the Hamilton Bulldogs. Dubnyk signed with the Coyotes in the offseason and seemed to regain his confidence under Sean Burke’s guidance. He did well with the Coyotes, posting a 0.916 save percentage and a 2.72 goals against average. I mean, nothing special, but good for somebody who appeared to be on his way to playing in a beer league full-time. Since being traded to the Minnesota Wild, Dubnyk has seven wins, four shutouts, a 0,948 save percentage, 1.31 goals against average. What?! There’s no way he keeps this up, but if he somehow does, and Minnesota grabs a playoff spot, he should be given some Vezina attention. On the other hand, you have Hutchinson who has been instrumental in the Jets’ current playoff position. He’s got a 0.923 save percentage and a 2.23 goals against average, while Pavelec has a 2.54 and a 0.911.

I know, Hutchinson and Dubnyk aren’t the best goalies, and there’s absolutely no prayer they win, or get nominated for the Vezina, but I wanted to give them a shout out anyway. 

Anyways, here are the current contenders for the Vezina Trophy:

3. Braden Holtby 

Individual statistics:

15.62 goals saved above average

0.925 save percentage (4th)

2.14 goals against average (5th)

25 wins (89.3% of Washington’s wins)

2,693 minutes played (1st)

6 shutout (2nd)

1,283 shots against (3rd)

1,187 saves (3rd)

9.7 point shares (2nd)

Team statistics (5 on 5):

CF% 51.6 (12th)

SF% 51.1 (13th)

CA60 52.3 (14th)

SA60 27.1 (6th)

Holtby has had pretty much the biggest workload of anybody in the league. He leads the league in minutes played, and ranks third in both shots against and saves. He’s been a huge part of Washington’s success this season, accounting for 89.3% of his team’s wins and sitting second in the league in point shares. Of course, a lot of this comes down to the fact he plays a lot of minutes. If you play a lot, you’re probably going to have a lot of point shares, unless you’re absolutely terrible. Regardless, Holtby has been really good at handling his massive workload. He hasn’t been good enough, though, to win the award at this point, especially considering Washington is sixth in the league in shots against per 60 minutes, meaning he gets a fair amount of help from his team’s defensive play. 

2. Pekka Rinne

Individual statistics:

17.57 goals saved above average

0.929 save percentage (2nd)

2.02 goals against average (1st)

30 wins (85.7% of Nashville’s wins)

2,348 minutes played (12th)

3 shutouts (10th)

1,110 shots against (14th)

1,031 saves (13th)

8.9 point shares (5th)

Team statistics (5 on 5):

CF% 52.7 (6th)

SF% 53.3 (6th)

CA60 52.3 (11th)

SA60 27.6 (13th)

As usual, Pekka Rinne has been absolutely lights out this season. Usually, the Predators rely heavily on Rinne being good in order to keep them above water. This season, that hasn’t been the case. The Predators rank sixth in the league in both CorsiFor% and ShotsFor%, despite allowing 27.6 shots against per 60 minutes at 5 on 5. This year, Rinne isn’t the reason the Preds are a pretty good team, they’ve accomplished that on their own merit. That being said, he’s the reason they’re a contending team. (I went into a little more depth about it here.) His incredible 2.02 goals against average and 0.929 save percentage and 17.57 goals saved above average is matched by only one other goalie. HERE WE GO!

1. Carey Price

Individual statistics:

24.27 goals saved above average

0.932 save percentage (1st)

2.03 goals against average (2nd)

29 wins (85.3% of Montreal’s wins)

2,511 minutes played (7th)

4 shutouts (6th)

1,256 shots against (5th)

1,171 saves (5th)

10.6 point shares (1st)

Team statistics (5 on 5):

CF% 49.1 (21st)

SF% 48.8 (20th)

CA60 57.1 (25th)

SA60 29.2 (22nd)

Carey Price is the Montreal Canadiens. He leads the league in point shares, save percentage, and goals saved above average and he’s putting together a campaign that might be good enough to match Jose Theodore’s 2001-02 season. By that, I mean Price may not only be in contention for Vezina, but also the Hart Trophy for the league’s Most Valuable Player. His stats are obviously incredible, but the fact he’s doing it despite his team’s best intentions to sabotage him makes it even more special. Okay, that may have been somewhat hyperbolic, but the Canadiens are in the bottom third in the league in CF%, SF%, CA60, and SA60 minutes, meaning Price is doing what he’s doing with a pretty mediocre team in front of him. While Holtby and Rinne have done some pretty impressive things this season, they have a much better team in front of them. Vive la Price!

Thanks to War-on-Ice and Hockey Reference for their stats.