Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Winner: Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins
Finalists: Sergei Bobrovsky (CBJ), Antti Niemi (SJS)
The most outstanding goaltender of the 2013 season is Tuukka Rask.
Rask finished with a 19-10-5 record, a 2.00 GAA and a .929 save percentage. He also tied for the league lead in shutouts, and he is the only goaltender ranked in the top three of GAA and SV% (among goalies with at least 24 games played). He's allowed two goals or fewer in 24 of his 34 starts.
The case against Rask is that the Bruins play so well defensively, and that he doesn't have to dominate games to help his team win on a consistent basis. People who say that have not watched the Bruins this season, because the defensive performance from key blueliners such as Zdeno Chara, Andrew Ference and Johnny Boychuk has not been as strong in 2013 as it was in recent seasons.
Young defensemen Dougie Hamilton and Matt Bartkowski have also played a role on the team's blue line, and both players have struggled at times defensively with costly turnovers and other rookie mistakes.
The 26-year-old star was asked to be near-perfect in the final month of the season with Boston's offense going through a massive slump (three or more goals scored in just four of the team's 14 games in April).
To his credit, the Finnish netminder stepped up his game to prevent the Bruins from losing their lead in the Northeast Division.
Rask's shutout victory on Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning was one of his finest performances of the year. After the game, Bruins forward Daniel Paille spoke about his goaltender's play.
He’s been solid all year, and I think that’s five shutouts for him. And he just makes everything look so easy. You know, I think they could have had a few goals there and Tuukka was just solid. When he has that mindset – that’s mostly every time when there’s no fatigue in there – he’s one of the best goalies. So he’s been great and I think he’s had that confidence all year. It hasn’t been different for him. We know that’s what we’ll get out of him.
As one of the most consistent goaltenders in the NHL who also put up incredible stats, Rask deserves to win the Vezina Trophy. He is the Bruins' most valuable player and the primary reason why they rank third in goals against and have the fourth-best penalty kill.