Ranking the Top Candidates for the Vezina Trophy in the 2014-15 Season

Steve Macfarlane@@MacfarlaneHKYFeatured ColumnistNovember 25, 2014

Ranking the Top Candidates for the Vezina Trophy in the 2014-15 Season

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    John Russell/Getty Images

    Some of the faces are the same, but there has been a lot of movement in the Vezina Trophy race for the 2014 NHL season over the past month.

    Darcy Kuemper of the Minnesota Wild was fourth just a few weeks ago but fell off the map with four losses in his last seven and an ugly two goals on two shots in a seven-minute appearance recently.

    Others who are looking to move up the rankings are suffering because of their split roles. Ottawa Senators top gun Craig Anderson and cohort Robin Lehner are cutting into each other's playing time, which hurts Anderson despite his impressive .932 save percentage.

    The situation is similar in St. Louis, where veteran Brian Elliott and Jake Allen are more likely to battle for the Jennings Trophy than the Vezina because of their timeshare. They've both got save percentages better than .930 and goals-against averages between 1.90 and 2.00.

    Click ahead to see who the biggest risers and fallers are and who the new No. 1 is.

Honorable Mentions

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins: The defending Vezina Trophy winner wasn't even a member of the honorable mentions a month ago but has made serious strides this month. He won four straight to start November off on the right foot and has won six of nine, with his most recent loss coming in extra time.

    Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings: Again an honorable mention, Howard has decent personal numbers with a .920 save percentage and 2.09 GAA, just not a huge winning percentage at the moment.

    Frederik Andersen, Anaheim Ducks: Andersen was second a month ago in these rankings. It might seem like a drastic dip, but the Ducks netminder has won just two games in November and given up 20 goals in his last eight appearances. 

    Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks: Crawford was fifth in the original rankings, and his individual numbers are still high, but he's behind in the win column. He's still a very real possibility for votes as the season progresses.

7. Ryan Miller, Vancouver Canucks

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    Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

    Previous ranking: Unranked

    By the numbers: 13-3-0 record, .904 save percentage, 2.63 goals-against average, one shutout

    Bottom line: Last time I did these rankings I said no goalie with a save percentage under .910 would take home the hardware. Well, never say never.

    It's hard to ignore the fact that Miller has—despite his less-than-glowing personal stats—tied for the lead in wins and has a points percentage of .813. He may still be the underdog of this talented top group but is heading in the right direction for redemption after a tough playoff with the St. Louis Blues last spring.

6. Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Previous ranking: Sixth

    By the numbers: 12-3-2 record, .917 save percentage, 2.30 goals-against average

    Bottom line: His stats have dipped ever so slightly, but Bishop is still among the best netminders in the league. As long as his win totals remain high—which should be a given as long as he's healthy and the Lightning avoid major injuries up front—he'll be somewhere on this list. He has allowed more than three goals against in a game just once this season.

5. Jaroslav Halak, New York Islanders

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    Previous ranking: Unranked

    By the numbers: 10-4-0 record, .922 save percentage, 2.23 goals-against average, three shutouts

    Bottom line: Halak and the Islanders are playing superb hockey right now, with the 29-year-old journeyman winning his past seven starts, including three shutouts and a total of just eight goals surrendered in that span. He's rocketing up these rankings and will get a serious look at the Vezina Trophy if he keeps climbing in the win column and keeps his other numbers at their current levels.

    He's extremely dialed in at the moment, and his focus allows him to make saves like the one he pulled off against Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux in Monday's shootout win.

4. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens

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    Winslow Townson/Associated Press

    Previous ranking: Seventh

    By the numbers: 13-4-1 record. .922 save percentage, 2.35 goals-against average, two shutouts

    Bottom line: Price is one of three goalies tied with 13 wins atop the NHL at the position. He's won six of his last seven games and has seen his save percentage climb and his goals-against average drop over the past month. He beat the Boston Bruins—his biggest rival—for a third time this season and put on a show with 33 saves for the shutout. He's got a .750 points percentage in 18 games so far.

3. Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Previous ranking: First

    By the numbers: 10-4-4 record, .932 save percentage, 2.22 goals-against average, two shutouts

    Bottom line: Quick still has the best save percentage of all those on this list, but it's not nearly as spectacular a lead as through the first month of the season. Thanks to a couple of rough outings, his goals-against average has also climbed (sitting seventh among those with 15 or more appearances), and he's given up four decisions in overtime or shootouts.

    He's still among the best in the league and once his points percentage climbs again, so will his spot in the rankings.

2. Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Gene J.Puskar/Associated Press

    Previous ranking: Unranked (Honorable Mention)

    By the numbers: 12-3-1 record, .926 save percentage, 2.09 goals-against average, four shutouts

    Bottom line: Say what you want about his playoff disappointments since winning the Stanley Cup back in 2009, Fleury has been a strong presence for the Penguins this season. He's one of seven goaltenders with double-digit wins, and his save percentage is good for third among netminders who have played 15 or more games. His goals-against average is fifth in that same group and his points percentage is a solid .781. His shutout total leads the league.

1. Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    Previous ranking: Third

    By the numbers: 13-3-1 record, .930 save percentage, 1.92 goals-against average, one shutout

    Bottom line: Rinne is tied with Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens and Ryan Miller of the Vancouver Canucks for the most wins this season. The Nashville Predators backstop has the second-highest save percentage of any netminder who has played at least 15 games so far this sesason—behind only Jonathan Quick—and his goals-against average is tops among those same colleagues.

    His lateral quickness is top end and his ability to read the play is what makes him so hard to beat