Vezina Watch – The King’s Reign Continues
‘King Henrik’ remains the stand out performer between the pipes, but the race for the Vezina Trophy is as competitive as ever.
Marc-Andre Fleury, Pekka Rinne and Frederik Andersen have all impressed through the opening weeks of the season, while Steve Mason, Michal Neuvirth and Reto Berra have caught the eye with some strong displays on struggling teams.
With Carey Price also due to return to action, the field is only going to get stronger over the coming weeks.
The debate on equipment size and what can be done to increase scoring in the NHL rages on, but the NHL’s finest keep on rolling as the standard of goaltending at the top level climbs higher than ever before.
1. Henrik Lundqvist
Shut Outs: 1
Save %: 96.30
Adj Save %: 96.14
High Danger Save %: 92.93
Goals Against Average: 1.71
‘The King’ reigns supreme at the top of our list for the third week in a row, with the veteran stopper a major part of the Rangers recent nine-game winning streak – which came to an end last night in Tampa Bay.
Lundqvist currently leads the entire NHL in save percentage, goals-against average and is tied for the lead in wins. The 33-year old has also faced more shots, and made more saves, than any other netminder so far this season.
2. James Reimer
Shut Outs: 0
Save %: 95.09
Adj Save %: 95.03
High Danger Save %: 93.24
Goals Against Average: 2.19
No, your eyes are not playing tricks on you – a Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender is among our top 3.
Reimer’s effort this season has simply been too good to ignore. Whether you choose to adopt the eye test or crunch the number, Reimer has been outstanding for a Toronto side seldom praised for its defensive prowess.
Having won his last four starts, the 27-year old may even be on the cusp of winning back the Leafs starting role.
3. Roberto Luongo
Shut Outs: 1
Save %: 94.87
Adj Save %: 94.91
High Danger Save %: 88.39
Goals Against Average: 2.33
The Panthers may have struggled with some key injuries and stuttering form, but Roberto Luongo has given them a chance every single night.
The 36-year old recorded a 39-save shut out against Tampa Bay on Monday before stopping 38 of 40 shots faced against Anaheim last night (Thursday) to help the Panthers remain in the playoff picture.
New Jersey continue to defy expectations, with, to the surprised of no one, the play of Cory Schneider one of the main drivers behind that success.
Schneider is among the leagues top stoppers, posting a 2.05 goals-against average and .926 save percentage in 15 games so far this season, as New Jersey climbed in to 8th place in the East.
Jake Allen may have hit a small bump in the road earlier this week, but was at his best against the Sabres last night – reminding us all what a great year he’s been having.
Allen made 32-saves, including 4 in overtime, to help secure a 3-2 shoot out victory and looks to have taken ownership of the Blues starting role so far this season.
With James Reimer, Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider all performing at such a high level, is it time to re-evaluate the notion that a goaltender must be on a playoff team to be considered a Vezina Trophy candidate?
Since it’s introduction in 1926, only one netminder who was not on a playoff team has won the award – Sergei Bobrovsky in 2013.
Whilst the idea that no team would qualify for the post season without good goaltending is fair, this can also suggest that a goaltender on a team that fails to qualify for the playoffs has somehow automatically underperformed – or performed less well than a netminder from a playoff team.
This is not always the case; and whilst any of the trio mentioned could trail off before the season ends, it is important to note this is something of a ‘historical’ argument as well.
As recently as last season both Schneider and Philadelphia’s Steve Mason were in the top ten for both save percentage and goals-against average, but failed to receive single vote between them despite keeping hapless Devils and Flyers sides in the playoff race for much longer than either probably had any right to be.
While there was no disputing that Carey Price was the stand out goaltender in the NHL last term, that Schneider and Mason were so easily dismissed by many does both the goaltenders themselves and the award a disservice.
All statistics used in our rankings are taken 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 showing 5-on-5 stats to offer a better comparison of 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.