As the NHL schedule begins to slow down we'll start to take a peek at the postseason NHL awards, which will be formally celebrated and announced on June 20, 2012.
Today we consider the Vezina Trophy for the most outstanding goalie. Officially, the three finalists are Henrik Lundqvist, Jonathan Quick and Pekka Rinne -- all deserving candidates. But the writers at Lighthouse Hockey have a few more to consider and we'll explain why below. From those voting, our collective pick is Quick -- same as the consensus pick among SB Nation hockey editorial voters.
In comments, your own thoughts on this award are encouraged.
Vezina Trophy Ballots
PGI: 1. Jonathan Quick. 2. Henrik Lundqvist. 3. Mike Smith
Quick's got some eye-opening rankings, 2nd in the NHL GAA, 1st in shutouts (10), 5th in Save Percentage. But the most significant one - the Kings were 29th in the NHL in scoring. And they still came within a few points of winning their division. That their season wasn't torpedoed before Christmas is all due to Quick and a pile of 1-0 and 2-1 wins.
As much is made about the Rangers' shot blocking, when they need Lundqvist to be there, he's there. I go Smith over Rinne because Nashville's defense and offense are much more stout than Phoenix's. But any of these four guys are more than worthy.
ISLANDER'S VEZINA: Duh. Nabokov. It's not close.
Mike B.: 1. Jonathan Quick; 2. Henrik Lundqvist; 3. Pekka Rinne
The edge for Quick over Lundqvist is that without Quick, LA would never have gotten into the playoffs at all. He carried the Kings to an absurd degree when they were scoring 0.4 goals per week.Isles Vezina: for once I wish there were only two candidates on the team. Clearly Nabokov was the man.
Chris McNally: 1. Jonathan Quick; 1-A/B. Brianoslav Halliott.
If its possible, my pick would be the combination of Brian Elliot and Jaroslav Halak in St. Louis. When was the last time teammates each had a sub 2 GAA and a save% over .925? Not to mention St Louis wouldn't have made it half as far if not for their play.
But if my outside the box thinking is not allowed, it has to be Quick for the same reason I stated for the Blues tandem but doing it on his own.
And for the Isles, obviously Rick DiPietro...uhh I mean Nabokov.
Keith Quinn: Quick.
Quick, hands down. Not to say Lundqvist wasn't stellar, but Quick brings an assuredness in the crease I haven't seen in some time. He has a fluidity of movement like no other. He gets from one side of the net to the other without flopping or overplaying a position and he does it while always being square on his angle. He plays forward (aggressively coming toward the shooter) and seldom gives up big rebounds. When he does, it almost looks like he's doing it purposely. Amazing to think that these guys almost didn't make the playoffs.
Dominik: 1. Mike Smith; 2. Jonathan Quick; 3. Henrik Lundqvist
My rationale is quite similar to the others -- without Quick, L.A. doesn't even survive to get the 8th seed and make this incredible playoff run that they really should have had in them all along (especially after swapping Jack Johnson for Jeff Carter).
However, that's my argument (later) for giving Quick Hart consideration. When it comes to raw goaltender performance in 2011-12, Mike Smith's .936 even strength save percentage was the highest among any NHL goalie who played more than 46 games -- and he played 67. His 1922 saves were third only to Rinne (who played six more games) and Cam Ward. His .930 overall save percentage was behind only Brian Elliott and Cory Schneider, who each played about half as many games. A consistent workhorse who performed at a breathtaking level for 67 games, he gets my nod.
That relates to why two Blues goalies were left off my ballot: Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak each had an even higher even strength save percentage than Smith, but getting 46 games or less gave them the rest that Smith was not afforded.
Put it all together, and Quick gets our collective nod -- though it's really a homer vote, as everyone has heard a time or two hundred about the in-law connection between Quick and some 30-goal-scorer guy known as Matt Moulson.
How about you, dear reader? Your Vezina picks for 2012?
For each award we'll consider which Islander would get the nod, or the nomination if these were determined first by taking nominations from all 30 teams. For the Vezina, it's no question that Evgeni Nabokov gets the nod. Five goalies dressed overall, but Nabby carried the load in 42 games and had the superior stats as well (.914 overall save%, .917 EV save%).
Nabokov steadied the position, though it's interesting to note that in the first month Al Montoya looked like he could very well grab this role. He didn't, injuries hit, and Montoya ended the season with his poorest run of form since he joined the Islanders a little over a year ago -- even finishing with a .893 overall SV% in 31 games played (26 starts).
Few would've expected it a year ago, but Evgeni Nabokov was the Islanders' best goalie in 2011-12.