Originally, I was going to write an all-out campaign piece for Jimmy Howard’s place in the All-Star game as well as Vezina trophy consideration, but it’s a little ironic that he had one of his, well, less-favorable performances against the Dallas Stars last night. He came away with the “W,” but I’m sure he’s not all that proud of it.
Everyone’s entitled to an “off” night and last night certainly seemed like Jimmy’s turn. Thankfully, the forward lines were all clicking, and Detroit never relinquished control of the game. It’s only fair. After all, Howard has bailed out his skaters more than once with some incredible goaltending, and his name still remains super-glued to the leaderboards in just about every category.
I can appreciate that the All-Star ballot was arranged very early in the season, but Top Jimmy’s performance has warranted him a spot (and pretty close to it, with all the write-ins). I doubt very much they’ll pass him by again next year.
But on to the more controversial topic… Should Jimmy Howard be considered for the Vezina Trophy?
Defined by the NHL as the goaltender who is "adjudged to be the best at this position”, it would seem that the Vezina Trophy winner would be the netminder with the highest save percentage and lowest Goals Against Average. This would determine the winner almost automatically, like the Rocket Richard Trophy, but the award is voted on by the thirty club GMs, so the visible, on-ice effort is also taken into consideration.
The statistics are obviously a big part of the decision, but consider these other factors…
-Can you elevate your game when your forwards aren’t scoring?
-Can you sustain your mental stamina when taking upwards of 40 shots per night?
-Can you remain strong after letting in a number of goals?
-Can you regain your toughness after letting in goals and allowing your opponent to lead?
-Do you still manage to be the winning goaltender when your team’s score is only 1 or 2?
-Can you do all of the above within your opponents home arena?
Vezina buzz of late is typically centered around Henrik Lundqvist and the perennial favorite, Tim Thomas. But I say that Jimmy Howard should also be in that conversation.
As of right now, January 4, 2012, here are my Vezina Trophy finalists (in no particular order)
Why no Thomas? He’s a stellar goaltender and I love watching him play. But the Bruins have been a scoring machine lately, and he hasn’t necessarily HAD to be all those things I mentioned above. Plus, he has split the load a little more evenly with Tuuka Rassk. It’s a VERY close call to be sure, between Thomas and King Henrik, and their numbers are almost identical. However, I fully believe both Howard and Elliot should be on there, and that leaves only one spot. Overall, Lundqvist has shouldered the load that much better.
The floor is now open. What say you?