NHL Predictions 2012: Power Ranking the Top 5 Candidates for the Vezina Trophy
This slideshow was originally going to be about the top 10 Vezina candidates for this year, but it felt like too many goalies to rank.
After all, 10 goalies would represent a third of the league's starting netminders.
It would be like power ranking the league's top 200 active players.
Anyway, here are my top five picks to win the 2011-12 Vezina Trophy.
If this were a slightly bigger list, Price would certainly make the cut. With a league-leading 38 wins last season and a 0.923 save percentage, how could he not?
He'll put up similar numbers for Montreal again this season, but great numbers aren't good enough.
This was a tough call to make. I know a lot of people have Hank on their top fives right now, and I understand why.
He is great every year, and he, along with Brad Richards, are the reasons why I think the Rangers might go on a deep(er) playoff run next spring.
The Flower, I predict, will consistently make honourable mention lists (with regard to the Vezina) for years to come.
That's not to say he's a bad goalie, because he's a huge part of the Pittsburgh Penguins and can be a difference maker in those tight games.
In fact, his chances of winning the Vezina might be hurt by the fact that he plays behind a very good team. He will still stand on his head for the team, but will never be THE reason his team wins, unlike how Tim Thomas was for the Bruins last season. Sure, the Bruins had Chara and a great supporting cast, but Thomas really stole the show for them during the regular season (to say nothing of the playoffs).
5) Roberto Luongo
2010-11 Stats: 60GP, 38-15-7, 0.928 SV%, 2.11 GAA
Luongo might be the favourite, or at least a favourite, to win the William M. Jennings award this season, but that just means he has a really good team in front of him.
The Vancouver Canucks are a largely unchanged team compared to last season, so there is little doubt that they'll once again be at, or very near, the top of the Western Conference come playoff time.
There is no reason to believe that Luongo will have an off year. In fact, he might come back hungrier after having gotten to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
He was actually tied with Carey Price for most wins by a goalie last season, but one has to wonder how many of those wins were due to his teammates and not his play.
I'm sure Luongo will put up similar numbers again this year, but I don't think he will be enough of a game-changer to win the Vezina.
4) Ryan Miller
2010-11 Stats: 66GP, 34-22-8, 0.916 SV%, 2.59 GAA
Compared to his Vezina-winning season in 2009-10, last year was a bit of an off year.
That shows you what kind of goalie Miller is, seeing as there are probably a couple dozen teams who want their goalies to have the kind of stats that he did this past season.
Could this season be a return to form for Miller?
With their new signings, the Sabres now boast a potent defensive corps to go along with an already dangerous group of forwards.
It looks like the Sabres will raise their overall game to another level, which means Miller may be poised to have a spectacular year.
3) Ilya Bryzgalov
2010-11 Stats: 68GP, 36-20-10, 0.921 SV%, 2.48 GAA
As evidenced by his stats last year with the Phoenix Coyotes, Bryzgalov is a workhorse who can put up excellent numbers even when he isn't playing for a great team.
Now he's playing for a legitimate contender who has shown great confidence in his abilities by signing him to a big contract.
I think he'll reward their confidence this year by putting up the best numbers of his career in terms of save percentage and goals-against-average.
Let's not forget about the new-look Philadelphia Flyers that he'll be playing with.
This'll be a squad that will be out to prove that they are still an elite group despite the summer blockbuster trades, which some believe weakened the team in the short term.
2) Pekka Rinne
2010-11 Stats: 64GP, 33-22-9, 0.930 SV%, 2.12 GAA
What can you say about Pekka Rinne?
He was second in the league last year behind Tim Thomas in save percentage and goals-against-average. This was for a team that could barely score; the Predators only had two 20-goal scorers (Sergei Kostitsyn with 23 and Patric Hornqvist with 21).
The Predators lost some depth over the summer, but their core group of players remained in town.
They are poised for a repeat of last season, and so is Rinne.
1) Tim Thomas
2010-11 Stats: 57GP, 35-11-9, 0.938 SV%, 2.00 GAA
He set a new record for save percentage in the regular season.
Even a great goalie on a great team would have a hard time pulling that off.
Barring any serious injuries, Tim Thomas will win the Vezina Trophy again this season.