Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Vezina Conclusion

There doesn't seem to be much to this year's Vezina candidacy, as it appears as if Ryan Miller's the runaway winner with his sharp play over the regular season, and dominance in the Olympic tournament. Yes, yes, the Olympics aren't supposed to count, but it'll be hard to remove those memorable performances from the memory of the 30 General Managers who will vote on the winner. And the controversy that entails.

First off, the Buffalo Sabres are first in the Northeast Division earning the bottom of the top three seeds in the conference berths. That doesn't happen without Miller between the pipes. He leads the League in save percentage with a .931 and trails Rask (who's started in half as many games) in goals against with a 2.16. He's ninth in the League in starts (56) and has gone 33-15-8 which puts him at seventh, with 5 shutouts posted. And this is on the Sabres, a team that, in my mind, has no earthly business being that high in the standings, let alone leading the Division. Plus he's got that Silver Medal he's been toting around to every corner of the country, and, not to mention because it doesn't count, was named MVP of the tournament with the best hockey players in the world that we dare not speak its name.

Now here's where it gets interesting...

The Florida Panthers are once again an abyssmal team with a self-admitted letter from ownership to fans that they will be re-making this team. They currently sit in 12th in the East with a record just below .500, and are all but assured missing out on the postseason once again. All this and yet Tomas Vokoun sits second in save percentage with a .930, earning 23 of the Panthers' 28 wins, and is also tied for second in the League with 7 shutouts. He's got a 2.36 goals against average which is good for ninth, but he's made 1,741 saves which puts him behind only Craig Anderson. That means he's averaging about 31 shots per game, where as the majority of the top goaltenders are facing somewhere in the 26-28 range. That's some whip cream on shit right there. He didn't have a horrible Olympic run either, not sayin', just sayin'.

Craig Anderson has been one of the partners of the turnaround success story of the Colorado Avalanche. Finally given the chance to be a #1 goaltender, he's taken the opportunity and run with it after showing signs of brillance in Florida behind Vokoun. Anderson's stats aren't as good as the other netminders mentioned here, but he's gotten some conversation even though he'll probably be the odd man out on the ballot. Anderson's started 60 games going 35-19-5 with 7 shutouts, and carries a .924 save percentage, and a 2.45 goals against. He doesn't have sparkling averages but he's a workhorse and he's added stability to a young team who's on their way to returning to the postseason.

Ilya Bryzgalov's part of the 'Cinderella' story out in Phoenix, that's helped Dave Tippett's chances for a Jack Adams. Another guy who finally got his #1 status, after struggling mightily at first, he's rebounded this season, and has helped to put the Coyotes in playoff position. With 59 starts under his belt, he's gone 36-18-4, leads the League with 8 shutouts, while posting a .921 save percentage, and a 2.27 goals against. Not bad numbers for a team that no one wants. Russia may have faired a little better if they had elected to go with Bryzy as opposed to Nabokov, but that's neither here nor there.

I expect the ballot to have the names of Bryzgalov, Vokoun, and Miller on it, but there's plenty of names that could be thrown about, like Luongo after his gold medal tournament and surging Canuck team, Nabokov with his perennial placed Sharks at the top of the West. But in the end, I think its Miller's already.


Bettman's Nightmare said...

I'd definitely say if anyone is going to challenge Miller, it has to be Bryzgalov. And if he won it over Miller, I wouldn't complain.

Nuuuuugs said...

I'd have to agree other than the fact that Vokoun's name is really getting tossed around out there. The fact that he's been so good on such a bad team has to say something. Then again, in this League, if you're not winning games, you're not going to get recognized.