This season has seen a resurgence in elite goaltenders, many with great stories. Tim Thomas has gone from the most overpaid one hit wonder, to the top statistical goaltender in the league. Pierre Gauthier was five seconds away from being hanged for trading playoff hero Jaroslav Halak and retaining Carey Price. Price has put together an all-star season and is the reason why the Canadiens will be enjoying post season bliss. Pekka Rinne, well what can I say? Nashville is heading to the post season with literally no offense and past Weber and Suter a rather pedestrian defense. Trotz and Rinne deserve all the credit in the world for their seasons. Henrik Lundqvist if you have not heard leads the league in shutouts at 11, down the stretch he has played lights out when the Rangers needed him most. Luongo, Ward, Niemi, the list is too long to count of all the re-surging goaltenders that deserve mention for the prestigious Vezina trophy. I would like to make my case for Ilya Brygalov and why I think he deserves a look.
It is no secret, the Coyotes have a lack of strong offensive options, the lead scorer is Shane Doan with 19 goals...enough said. The Coyote defense at a glance looks very suspect, after Yandle and Jovo-Cop the talent dips sharply. With a defense of Aucoin, Morris, Rozsival, Klesla, OEL and Schlemko all taking parts, it really is a deep but unspectacular group. The idea of the team game and all pieces giving their best starts and ends with Brygalov. Now that you have a scope of the team as a whole let us look at the goalie himself.
Ilya's numbers are not the tops in the NHL, but are very impressive. With a sv% of .921 and a GAA of 2.48 it's easy to see why the Coyotes are looking at a post season berth. He has faced a ton of shots being 3rd in the NHL (Ward seems to be a puck magnet), 7 shutouts and 35 wins. Ilya has been a force in the net this season (Much like last season). Though the numbers aren't at the top of the NHL it is the fact that he puts up these numbers on a weak team. Perhaps that means he is more of a Hart candidate since he has put the team on his shoulders, and I would agree. You may be wondering why I would write this if I am not going to scream to the rafters that Brygalov should win the Vezina? Simply put he needs more exposure, this is an elite goaltender that has before these two winning seasons he was hung out to dry and still played great.
My expected Vezina nominees:
1. Tim Thomas : The mans story and numbers are too good to pass up. He is my clear cut favourite.
2. Carey Price : Once again the story plays a role and the media loves special interest. O and there's that thing about him carrying a team with the most injuries to their blueline, or something like that.
3. Roberto Luongo : Yes I know, he is on the best team, his backup has similar success. But Luongo has put up the numbers required and the media is dying to give him an award, it seems to me all of Canada's media has jumped on the Canuck wagon and so I think they will nominate him.
Henrik Lundqvist if there is any justice in this world should be nominated but only time will tell.
So my question to you is this. Who do you think should win the Vezina trophy, and why?
Thanks for reading.