With the midway point of the NHL season here, we decided to award the top NHL awards to players and coaches if the season were to end at the 41-game mark. Today we feature the Vezina Trophy for Top Goaltender. Check back Tuesday when we reveal our selections for the Hart and Calder Trophies.
EB – Although I pride myself in being different, I too have to agree the Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas is indeed the top goaltender in the NHL. After having hip surgery in the off-season to repair a torn labrum in his left hip, Thomas did not have the luxury to prepare for the current season. One would think it would be a shaky start, but 7 wins in a row on 7 starts, is simply amazing. Factor in 3 of them being shutouts… wow. His dominance has continued, making Boston a threat come playoff time.
Chris – It’s hard not to notice a goaltenders whose goals against average is below 2.00, yet Tim Thomas, with 27 starts for the Bruins this season, sports an incredibly impressive 1.80 goals against average thus far. Thomas is on pace to put up the best numbers of his career despite being 36 years of age. If Thomas stays on pace, there is no competition for the Vezina. The trophy belongs to Thomas.
Eddie- It looks like everyone is going with Tim Thomas. Statistically, he’s the baddest and best backstopper in the league. But for the sake of a round table debate (It wouldn’t be a debate if everyone agreed on the same thing), the person who I think could be a finalist for the Vezina is Detroit’s Jimmy Howard. He currently leads the league in victories with 21. The last goalie to lead the league in victories and win the Vezina the same season was Martin Brodeur in 2006-07. What could keep him out of being a finalist is his high GAA (2.74) and save percentage (.907). He is in his second season full-time in the league, so it could be possible for coach Mike Babcock to slow Howard’s starts and minutes later on in the season to give him proper rest heading into the playoffs. In a city where Red Wings goalie is the second most criticized position in sports (Detroit Lions quarterback is first), Howard has done nothing but win fans over and will prove to be solid in the cage for the Red Wings in years to come.
Matt– My vote for the mid-season Vezina goes to Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins. Thomas, who lost his starting role last year to the young Tuukka Rask, has rebounded and had an incredible start to the 2010-11 season. Because of his outstanding play, the Bruins are leading the Northeast division, and have the fewest goals against in the NHL. In addition, Thomas is currently atop the NHL in both goals against average, save percentage, and is tied for the league lead with five shutouts. At the midway point this season, there’s no doubt about it, Tim Thomas is the Vezina Award winner.