May 8, 2013

Bruins goalie Rask not among Vezina Trophy finalists

By Jesse Connolly

In a year full of great goaltending performances, Tuukka Rask missed out on being one of the three finalists for the Vezina.

Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers, Antti Niemi of the Sharks and the Blue Jackets' Sergei Bobrovsky were announced as the three players up for the honor given annually to the NHL's top netminder. 

Here's a little side-by-side comparison, featuring stats and each goalie's NHL rank, allowing you to decide for yourself whether or not Boston's backstop got hosed (leader of the pack is italicized):

PLAYER

GAMES

WINS

GAA

SV%

SO

Sergei Bobrovsky

38 (11th)

21 (T-7th)

2.00 (T-5th)

.932 (2nd)

4 (T-6th)

Henrik Lundqvist

43 (T-2nd)

24 (T-1st)

2.05 (7th)

.926 (T-5th)

2 (T-20th)

Antti Niemi

43 (T-2nd)

24 (T-1st)

2.16 (11th)

.924 (T-7th)

4 (T-6th)

Tuukka Rask

36 (T-14th)

19 (T-11th)

2.00 (T-5th)

.929 (3rd)

5 (T-1st)


In my opinion, there was no major injustice here, but I would've had Rask in my top three.

The B's netminder, in terms of efficiency, is neck-and-neck with Bobrovsky in goals-against average and save percentage, and did share the league lead in shutouts.

But he's at a decided disadvantage when it comes to the quantity-over-quality categories, so to speak. Niemi and Lundqvist each made seven more starts and won five more games. In a 48-game season, that's a pretty big difference.

While that has as much to do with the quality of their backups (Martin Biron in New York, Thomas Greiss in San Jose) and general coaching strategies, the facts are still the facts.

Under a coach like Claude Julien and with a capable backup who earned a respectable amount of playing time in Anton Khudobin, Rask would've had to have crushed the competition in goals-against average and save percentage.

And don't think there aren't external factors, too. Rask probably drew comparisons to how Tim Thomas fared behind essentially the same team over the last few years, which included Vezina Trophy wins for the 2008-09 and 2010-11 seasons -- both of which saw the man now property of the Islanders overcome a deficit in starts with a brilliant record and, in 2011, a record-setting save percentage.

Rask was certainly among the best goalies in the league this season, but he wasn't quite out-of-this-world enough to consider this a full-fledged snubbing. 

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ
Email: jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com