BY ROBERT ZUCCARO – FAN FUEL BLOGGER
A hockey team is nothing without their man between the pipes, and as always the Vezina Trophy candidates are interesting to track. Yes the season hasn’t ended and the NHL awards are a couple of months away, but still it’s the race to finish that builds the excitement. Here are the five men I believe are worthy of taking home the Vezina as the league’s best goaltender:
Craig Anderson, Ottawa: Despite being laid up in bed for a month, Anderson still leads all NHL goaltenders with goals against average (1.71) and save percentage (.941). The Senators have taken a little tailspin recently, but if Ottawa can turn themselves around and even go deep in the playoffs, than you could see Anderson take home the Vezina.
Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus: It’s amazing what stable goaltending can do for a team. The Blue Jackets have had trouble between the pipes since the 2009/2010 season, when Steve Mason nose-dived after having a stellar rookie campaign. This past summer, they acquired Bobrovsky from the Flyers, and it has made a world of difference. His 19 wins, 2.06 GAA, .930 save percentage, and four shutouts have put Columbus back into playoff contention in the West.
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Corey Crawford, Chicago: The whole Chicago team has been on fire this year, but the improvement in Crawford’s play has Blackhawks fans breathing with a sigh of relief. He has yet to show what he can do in the playoffs, but his 2.03 GAA and .923 save percentage make him a Vezina trophy candidate. One thing is for certain, I believe him and Ray Emery will be this year’s William H. Jennings trophy winners.
Carey Price, Montreal: The Habs finished last place in the East last season, and have since rebounded. Price has been mostly consistent for Montreal this season. He has also thrived from the team’s dramatic turn around, posting a 2.59 GAA, a .905 save percentage, and three shutouts. His recent play may be used as a reason for him not to win this award, but he can still salvage his chance. If he is able to take the Habs deep into the playoffs, then I don’t see any reason why he would not remain a nominee.
Pekka Rinne, Nashville: The Predators have certainly “fallen from grace”, especially after last season’s performance. The team is now 14th in the West, and once again they struggle to score goals. The one thing that they do have is a guy to prevent them. Despite having his on and off struggles this year, Rinne has posted a 2.42 GAA, a .911 save percentage, which if you ask me is decent for a team that is sitting at the bottom of the pile. He is also tied for first in NHL shutouts with five this season (Mike Smith and Cory Schneider also have five).
These five goalies have shown that they can get the job done for their teams. Whether they are in the playoff picture, or in the position to make a charge for the Cup, I believe they are the five best choices for the Vezina.