Lundqvist named Vezina Trophy finalist
Rangers goalie has chance to become first Blueshirt to win award twice
Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist will have a chance to win his second straight Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goaltender after being named a finalist for the award on Wednesday.
Lundqvist, Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Antti Niemi of the San Jose Sharks are the three finalists for the 2012-13 Vezina Trophy, which is awarded “to the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at his position,” the National Hockey League announced today.
The general managers of the 30 NHL clubs submitted ballots for the Vezina Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winner will be announced during the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, with more detail on format to be released at a later date.
Here is a look at the finalists' credentials for the award:
Lundqvist, the reigning Vezina winner, tied for the NHL lead in wins, posting a 24-16-3 record with a 2.05 goals-against average and .926 save percentage. He also tied for the League lead in starts (43), ranked fifth in save percentage and seventh in goals-against average. He posted his eighth consecutive 20-win season, the longest current streak among active goaltenders. Lundqvist helped clinch his seventh trip to the playoffs in eight NHL seasons by allowing two goals or fewer in 16 of his last 20 games, going 13-5-2 with a 1.77 GAA and .935 save percentage in that span. He is a Vezina finalist for the fifth time, finishing first in 2012 and third from 2006 through 2008.
Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets
Bobrovsky (21-11-6, 2.00 goals-against average, .932 save percentage, four shutouts) backstopped Columbus' late-season surge that kept the club in contention for a playoff berth until the final moments of the season. The first-time Vezina finalist appeared in all but one of the Blue Jackets' franchise-record 12-game point streak (8-0-4) from Feb. 26 through Mar. 22 that spurred the club's move up the standings. He won eight of his last nine decisions from April 9-27, posting a 1.64 goals-against average and .945 save percentage in that span. He ranked second among NHL goaltenders in save percentage and sixth in goals-against average.
Antti Niemi, San Jose Sharks
Niemi shared the NHL lead in starts (43), saw more ice time than any other goaltender (2,580:46) and ranked third in shots faced (1,220) and saves (1,127). He helped the Sharks post the League's sixth-best defensive record (2.33 goals-against per game) by going 24-12-6 with a 2.16 goals-against average, .924 save percentage and four shutouts, tying for first place in wins and placing seventh in save percentage. Niemi is a Vezina finalist for the first time and is the fourth Finland native in the past seven seasons to make the top three, joining Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff, Minnesota's Niklas Backstrom and Nashville's Pekka Rinne.