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Vezina Watch – Carey On

Vezina Watch – Carey On

Montreal’s Carey Price remains leader in the race for the Vezina Trophy, with a string of impressive displays this season putting him on course to become the first netminder since Martin Brodeur in 2007 and 2008 to win back-to-back awards.

Behind the Montreal puck stopper things are less clear cut, with a number of candidates staking their claim through the early running.

But with the campaign just three weeks old, this is not entirely unexpected, even as some red hot starts cool off. The next month is likely to give us a better idea of which goaltenders are legitimate candidates this term, and whether hot starts from netminders such as Martin Jones are truly sustainable.

All statistics used are drawn from War-on-Ice.com. Because every goaltender sees a different amount of time on the power play and penalty kill, unless otherwise stated, we are using 5-on-5 stats to offer a better comparison on the save percentage statistics shown.

For those unfamiliar with these stats, Adjusted Save Percentage accounts for some differences in the kinds of shots each goaltender faces, mostly location but also some rebounds and rush chances. High Danger Save percentage includes only shots from the slot. This is the part of adjusted save percentage that appears to predict future performance best and thus may tell us the most about individual goaltenders. More information is available here.

1. Carey Price

2015-16 Record
Wins: 7
Shut Outs: 2
Save %: 95.02
Adj Save %: 94.72
High Danger Save %: 91.11
Goals Against Average: 1.75

Price suffered his first loss of the season on Tuesday, as Montreal went down 5-1 in Vancouver, but the reigning Vezina Trophy winner remains the stand out performer between the pipes so far this year.

With a league leading 36 goals, the Canadiens have impressed during the opening weeks of the new campaign, and the Team Canada #1 was a major part of their record setting 9-0-0 start.

2. Roberto Luongo

2015-16 Record
Wins: 3
Shut Outs: 0
Save %: 95.91
Adj Save %: 96.25
High Danger Save %: 88.89
Goals Against Average: 2.00

Luongo’s 5-on-5 play has been among the best in the NHL through the first three weeks of the new season, leading the league in adjusted save percentage and second to only Henrik Lundqvist in shots faced per 60 minutes at even strength.

The 36-year old’s play has been one of the main drivers behind Florida’s early success, with the club currently sitting 3rd in the Atlantic Division. If they remain a playoff team, ‘Lu’ will be a major reason why.

3. Corey Crawford

2015-16 Record
Wins: 5
Shut Outs: 2
Save %: 94.94
Adj Save %: 95.04
High Danger Save %: 89.13
Goals Against Average: 1.57

Often dividing opinions, back-to-back shut outs against Tampa Bay and Anaheim set Crawford apart from the pack this week.

The Montreal-native has posted strong numbers in all situations, a significant factor in the Blackhawks’ league lowest 16 goals against.

The 30-year old has played in seven of Chicago’s nine games this season, and is on a four game winning streak ahead of tonight’s game in Winnipeg.

Honourable Mentions

Both Michal Neuvirth and Reto Berra continue to perform for Philadelphia and Colorado respectively, as does Nashville #1 Pekka Rinne, but it is the Ducks’ Frederik Andersen who perhaps deserves the most recognition for his efforts during a torrid start to the season for Anaheim.

Despite a terrible run offensively, Andersen has remained solid between the pipes and continues to give the Ducks a chance to win every night – if they can just start to find the back of the net!

Pittsbrugh’s Marc-Andre Fleury has also flown under the radar somewhat, as the Penguins stumbled out of the gate.

The 1st overall pick in 2003, Fleury saw his reputation suffer after some high profile struggles in the post season but has been consistently among the best goaltenders in the league over the past two seasons. The 30-year old’s 33-save effort proved pivotal in securing a 3-1 win over Washington last night, but, as our own Kevin Woodley pointed out, Fleury’s revival is no fluke.

And Finally…

Frederik Andersen’s play has been one of the few highlights of the season for Ducks fans, but he hit the headlines for entirely different reasons this week – dislodging the net during Monday’s game in Chicago, denying the Blackhawks’ Artemi Panarin a goal which would have snapped a 0-0 tie late in the third period.

https://youtu.be/yHw0GXNHPmI

The home side would go on to win in overtime, but the play re-opened the discussion on whether or not goaltenders dislodging the net should be reviewable under the new coaches challenge, which was introduced this season.

Agreeing a method by which an official can determine intent is likely to be a key factor in this discussion however; something it’s difficult to see an agreement being reached on given the problems the league’s General Managers have already had when trying to find a consensus on what exactly constitutes goaltender interference…

While examples such as this remain few, if we see further occurrences this season it may become a point of discussion in the future.

About The Author

Rob McGregor

A member of the InGoal Magazine family since 2014, Rob is also Media Manager for the Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) in the UK and a former goaltender in Great Britain's third tier National League (NIHL).