Sunday, November 6, 2011

Vezina Prediction

Growing up as a goaltender, the Vezina Trophy has always been something I have idolized. Seeing Brodeur and Hasek essentially dominate the voting, winning the majority of the trophies while I was growing up. There wasn't much competition with the legends that were playing the game at the time.

I have also always had my own opinions on certain goalies.

I hated, absolutely hated Dominik Hasek. That "style" where he would throw his body around, rolling across the ice, dropping his stick to retrieve the puck, it all rubbed me the wrong way. I grew up loving the CuJo's, Vanbiesbrouck's, Roy's, Belfour's, and yes, the Brodeur's. One thing I can't knock though is the stats Hasek was able to put up. He clearly deserved the numerous Vezina's he won and found a style that worked for him.

That's one thing you notice while looking at the list of consistent Vezina winners. Style. From Tim Thomas's extremely aggressive, athletic approach, to Patrick Roy's re-invention of the position into what is now known as the Butterfly. You really don't see many goalies winning the trophy if they don't have something that lets them stand out from the pack. Although it does occasionally happen with guys like Ryan Miller and Miikka Kiprusoff, whom are goalies of a modern build, relying on the butterfly and fast reflex's. I'm a fan of both goalies, I just don't see them winning several Vezinas like The Dominator or Martin Brodeur would

An important item to take into account while looking at goalies whom have the potential to win the Vezina is team defense. Usually the goalie that wins the trophy has a really solid system in front of them. The Devils relied on there "Trap" for many years. Teams like Boston, Nashville, Montreal, and Phoenix have all been known to rely on stifling defensive zone coverage. I see a lot of teams collapsing in the slot preventing high-scoring chances and this all helps the goalie in obtaining high-end stats.

That said, my prediction for the Vezina for the 2011-12 season is:

Rinne has the pleasure of being behind possibly the best defensive scheme in the Western Conference. Enjoying a Norris caliber player in Shea Weber and a steady-as-a-rock Ryan Suter. Both guys 29 other teams would salivate at the opportunity to acquire. The Preds also have a plethora of defensive minded forwards and a seemingly endless prospect pool of high-end defenseman.

As for Pekka Rinne? Being in the same division as Rinne we go up against his game quite often. He plays to the size of his 6'5'' frame. Coming from that new school, drop down and protect the bottom of the net while relying on speed and reflex realm of goaltending. He is a game changer and he is consistent. It will be interesting to see how Nashville handles the Free Agency of Weber and Suter after agreeing to a 7 year, 7 million per, contract signing by the young franchise goaltender.


GP - 60
W - 32
GAA - 2.08
SV% - .931
SO - 8

Outside of someone pulling off a Tim Thomas like record breaking season I think Rinne should land the trophy with similar numbers to last season. He was recognized by the voters as one of the final three finalists for the Vezina during 2010 which is half the battle.

Honorable Mentions:

Tim Thomas - Someone who I'm still on the fence with. I love his style of play, his passion for the game, and the fact that he is a Michigan native. I don't like his age and that potential starter waiting in the wings with Rask. That said, if he stays healthy, I wouldn't be surprised if he puts together another top notch season.

Roberto Luongo - Everyone loves to hate Luongo. I can't blame them, either. He has a knack for falling apart in pressure situations but I really do believe he is a top 10 goalie. He also gets to enjoy a great team in front of him helping to lift some of that pressure.

Ryan Miller - With the overhaul Pegula has put in place for the Buffalo Sabres, I believe Ryan Miller will once again be near the top of the conversation for the Vezina. Keep an eye on him, if he can once again produce great numbers Miller will definitely get into the minds of voters. It's hard to forget that performance for team USA once upon a time.

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