The Vezina Trophy: And the Winner Is...
The Vezina Trophy is one of the most illustrious awards in sports. It is given every season to the National Hockey League goaltender who shows the most proficiency in his position, and clearly makes a difference on his team, game after game.
The nominees for the 2007-2008 NHL season demonstrated all the qualities needed. Now, this isn't an award ceremony, so I'll stop talking like that.
Onto the first goalie!
Evgeni Nabokov, San Jose Sharks
Okay, first off, I have nothing against Nabokov as a player. His stats speak for themselves, and he has always come up big in clutch situations.
However, I do not think that he is deserving of the Vezina this year. One could say that his aggressive play on the puck is the reason why he's such a great goaltender. I am not one of those people.
I think that he takes very unnecessary risks by skating out of the crease and diving to save the puck. Supposing that he actually surprises the player who has the puck and is able to save it, he's more than deserving of the award.
However, I think that this is his downfall. If the puck handler is able to make a play before he gets back in position, more than a few goals will be scored.
When he plays in his position, he is very proficient, but a risk-taker usually doesn't get the Vezina.
Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils
Ah, Martin Brodeur, arguably the best goalie in the history of the NHL, winner of several Vezinas in the past few years. I'm afraid not this year, however.
While Brodeur had some incredible performances this season, he is not the most deserving candidate. He is a lot like Nabokov in that he flies out of the crease, leaving the entire net open to shots.
He makes some unbelievable saves, to be sure, but that is still risky play that doesn't belong in the NHL, unless it is the goalie's last option.
Plus, let's not forget all the diving he did in the recent playoff series against the Rangers.
Granted, the hit by the Rangers' Ryan Callahan was viable. The hit by Fredrik Sjorstrom was clearly caused by the defender, who pushed him into Brodeur. Jaromir Jagr hit Brodeur with his thigh, but he didn't move—at all—and then fell back dramatically.
It gets a little old, Marty.
Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
Finally, we get to the goalie I believe to be most deserving. Lundqvist is now a Vezina finalist for the third year in a row. The 26-year-old "King" of New York has had one heck of a season for the Big Apple.
Game after game, he puts up great stats against the Eastern Conference stars. His pads were everywhere, his glove was sharp, and his vision was never better.
Of the 20 combined shutouts compiled by the three finalists, Lundqvist had 10. He has strict positioning and great quickness to traverse the crease.
Henrik is the most deserving of this year's candidates.
•Martin Biron, Philadelphia Flyers
•Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres
•Manny Legace, St. Louis Blues
•Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks
•Miikka Kiprusoff, Calgary Flames
ªDominik Hasek, Detroit Red Wings
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