Monday, April 17, 2006


Vezina Trophy: Kiprusoff vs. Lundqvist

With the season ending soon, here’s a look at who I would pick for the Vezina Trophy (top goalie) and who is likely to win. Unlike the other awards, the Vezina is voted on by the NHL General Managers, and not the writers. The GMs tend to look at different criteria when awarding the Vezina, and often do a poor job of picking the best goaltender. How else can you explain the Vezina that Jim Carey won? Shutouts, lots of shutouts.
GMs tend to look at the ‘big’ stats like WINS and SHUTOUTS and GAA and don’t evaluate the goaltenders very well given the team and situation they play in.

Looking at the Vezina Trophy race, it’s pretty much acknowledged that it’s a two-horse race between Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers and Miikka Kiprusoff of the Calgary Flames. Tomas Vokoun is the dark-horse whose chances are likely shot thanks to his season-ending injury and the fact he gets far less press than the other two.

Looking at the top SV%s in the league, we can narrow down the field drastically.

Christobal Huet has been sensation as he helped carry the Habs into the playoffs and Dominik Hasek was almost unbeatable before Humpty Dumpty fell off of the wall and all of the Ottawa surgeons tried to put him back together again.

While Huet, Hasek, and even Tim Thomas have had sensational campaigns, they have really only had great half-seasons. Hasek was a Vezina candidate after the first half and Thomas and Huet have played most of their games in the 2nd half of the season. They lower games played totals will work against them and they haven’t been nearly as valuable as a goaltender who has played as a #1 for a full season. Therefore, you can write them off easily as Vezina winners.

This leaves us with the three musketeers mentioned before and Manny Fernandez.

Fernandez has a great SV%, and has broken the 30 win barrier, but it’s hard to be a Vezina winner on a non-playoff team unless you are Dominik Hasek prime-time edition. You can also see how many fewer shots Fernandez has faced than a guy like Vokoun. The Minnesota Mild play such a choking trap-system that Fernandez is obviously partially a product of the protection he gets. Look at how exposed Dwayne Roloson was when he was traded to Edmonton. Given these factors, you can eliminate Fernandez from serious contention.

Out of the three goalies left, you can see Kiprusoff leads them all in the major categories except for SV%, and that margin is so slim that it makes no difference. Many wondered if Miikka was for real as his last campaign was essentially a half-season and he had a horrible start. Well, he’s played in almost every game for the Calgary Flames, and carried a very low scoring team into the playoffs. GM’s will definitely look at the eye-popping 10 shutouts in their voting and given the fact that Kiprusoff has the ‘black ink’ (for leading in individual categories), I would wager money that the GM’s will vote for him as the Vezina winner.

As for my choice, you could make a good case for all 3 goaltenders. Tomas Vokoun has put up very good numbers and faces more shots per minute than the other two finalists.

Lundqvist? He’s been a huge reason for the New York Rangers turnaround and he’s put up his fine numbers in a higher-scoring Eastern Conference environment (something the GM’s will never recognize but we will). He also played behind a far weaker defense corps than Kiprusoff and the Flames. Looking at the shots-per-minute, and what we know about the rosters, it’s obvious that Kiprusoff is far more protected than the other two finalists.

Still, my vote will go to Miikka by a slight margin, with Tomas Vokoun in 3rd by a slight margin. It's really quite a tight race and all three goaltenders should be commended for having great seasons.

Even with the protection he gets, Kiprusoff managed to play almost every minute of every game for the Flames and carry a low-scoring team into the playoffs. There is huge value in having a great goalie be able to play huge minutes and not show any fatigue or dip in ability. The more Kiprusoff can play at a high level, the less the Flames have to rely on an inferior backup like Brian Boucher or Philippe Sauve, who would cost the Flames in goal. Lundqvist was very good, but he couldn’t log the minutes Kipper could and the Rangers had to play Kevin "I wuz robbed!" Weekes a lot more than they should.

Oh, and because Lundqvist is Swedish. Heh heh heh heh.

I'm not saying that he should win, but I think that Marty Brodeur at least deserves a mention.

Sure, he started off the season terribly, but when it really mattered, he was a big part of the Devils' ridiculous run at the Atlantic division title.

I mean, a 10-game winning streak when it REALLY matters? Aside from one 3 goal and one 4 goal outing, he's allowed nothing more than 2 goals in each game. That, my friends, is clutch.

He certainly doesn't deserve it this year, but I think I'd take him over any goalie, even Kipper or Lundqvist, right now.
>I think I'd take him over any goalie, even Kipper or Lundqvist, right now.

You haven't seen much of Kipper then. And I say this somewhat objectively as an Oilers fan (with lots of NHL Centre Ice to watch), but he's the best goalie I've seen this year, and when you consider how little Calgary scores, he's the most valuable player for his team.
goalies job

1) win games

2) keep team in it

3) win close ones

dr v? the mvp and yea put of the cruddy goalie award as well

nashville is .641 in one goal games, galgary is .533 nyr is .366 (just above the blues for gosh sake!)

so dr v is 4th, kipp is 15 and the rookie is 25

no contest!!!
Roloson put up a 910 sv% with MIN, and a 905 sv% with EDM.

Is that different enough to conclusively say there are significant variations due to the quality of chances, especially over that sample size?

I'm honestly asking, not a stats guy. But the sv % difference doesn't seem particularly huge to me, would most goalies on hte same team all year necessarily have closer sv % splits in their year than that?
There isn't a big enough sample size for Roloson to say with ultimate certainty, but we do have some data, plus what I've seen with my own eyes, and Roloson hasn't looked all that great with the Oilers. Roloson had some massive SV%'s in the past with Minnesota, which was out of line with his early career. As Roloson plays more games outside of Minnesota, we'll get a better idea of his true talent.
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