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NHL Vezina Trophy - 2012 Finalists By The Numbers


The Vezina Trophy is awarded at the conclusion of each NHL season to the goaltender deemed to have been the best at his position throughout the regular season. The award, named after former star NHL goaltender Georges Vezina, is voted on by the general managers of all NHL teams.

The NHL record for the most Vezina trophies won is held by Jacques Plante, who won the award seven times. Trailing Plante are Bill Durnan and Dominik Hasek, who have each won the award six times. Past winners include Ken Dryden, Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur, Grant Fuhr, Ryan Miller, and most recently Tim Thomas.

The three finalists for the 2011-2012 NHL season are goaltenders Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers, Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators, and Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings.

The winner of the award will be announced at the 2012 NHL Awards ceremony in Las Vegas on June 20.

The finalists' performances are compared by the numbers:

Wins

All three goaltenders finished in the top 5 among NHL goalies for wins this year, with Rinne recording the most wins with 42, Lundqvist finishing 3rd with 39, and Quick finishing the year in a tie for 5th place with 35 wins. While Rinne has more wins than Lundqvist and Quick, he has also started more games than either goalie.

In terms of winning percentage (wins per start), Lundqvist is the clear favorite, having won 39 of his 62 starts, for a winning percentage of 62.9%. Rinne's league-high 42 wins were achieved in 72 starts, meaning he won 59.7% of his starts. Quick is a distant third with a 50.7% winning percentage. Considering that Lundqvist would have won around 45 games if he had played as much as Rinne, he gets the advantage in this category.

Advantage: Henrik Lundqvist

Goals Against Average

It is always an achievement for a goaltender when he finishes a season with a goals-against average (GAA) under 2.0. In 2011-2012, both Quick and Lundqvist reached this mark, finishing with GAA's of 1.95 and 1.97 respectively. They were also the only goaltenders who have played more than 50 games this season to have a GAA under 2.0.

What is more impressive about Quick's GAA of 1.95 is that he plays for a team that finished in 8th place in their conference and just managed to sneak into the playoffs. Lundqvist's Rangers finished 1st in the Eastern Conference, and Rinne's Nashville Predators finished 4th in the Western Conference (3rd in terms of points). Goaltenders who play on good teams usually have a lower goals-against averages because their team might allow less goals, so it is significant for the goaltender of an 8th place team to finish the season with a GAA under 2.0.

Advantage: Jonathan Quick 

Shutouts

Quick led all NHL goalies in shutouts in 2011-2012, and he was the only goalie to reach a double-digit number of shutouts, finishing the year with 10. Three of those shutouts came in consecutive games, when Quick posted shutouts against the St. Louis Blues, the Phoenix Coyotes and the Dallas Stars on the 18th, the 20th and the 22nd of October 2011. Lundqvist finished with 8 shoutouts and Rinne finished with 5.

Statistically, Quick earned one shutout approximately every 7 games (10 in 69 starts), while Lundqvist earned one approximately every 8 games (8 in 62 starts). Rinne's 5 shutouts in 72 games means he earned one approximately every 14 games.

Advantage: Jonathan Quick

Save Percentage

Lundqvist and Quick finished with a virtually identical save percentage (.930 for Lundqvist and .929 for Quick) with Rinne finishing behind them with a save percentage of .923, even though he played more minutes than Lundqvist and Quick and thus had a better chance of increasing his save percentage. As was the case with goals-against average, the advantage in the save percentage category is clearly to be disputed between Lundqvist and Quick.

Again, it is to be noted that Quick played 7 more games than Lundqvist during the season and that he has made more saves than his New York Rangers counterpart (1863 saves for Quick and 1753 saves for Lundqvist). Had Lundqvist played as many games as Quick, it is projected that he would have recorded 1951 saves, giving him a slight advantage over Quick.

Advantage: Henrik Lundqvist 

Power Play Save Percentage

When analyzing the goaltenders' performances when they had to face a power play, Jonathan Quick was once again the most efficient, recording a power play save percentage of .908. Considering that the Los Angeles Kings ranked fourth among all NHL clubs in most time spent shorthanded, Quick's numbers are impressive. Furthermore, he ranked second among NHL starting goalies in that category behind future Hall-of-Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur.

Lundqvist stopped 238 of 263 shots directed his way while he faced an opposing team's power play, giving him a save percentage of .905. Rinne stopped 253 of 285 shots, for a save percentage of just .888. Quick stopped 315 of 347 shots, thus his save percentage of .908. Not only is Quick more efficient in this situation than his closest competitor Lundqvist, but he also faced almost 100 more shots than the Rangers' stopper.

Advantage: Jonathan Quick

Short Handed Save Percentage

Goaltenders often do not see a lot of action when their team is on a power play, but they must remain aware because opposing players can catch them by surprise and score on them if they are not paying attention. Because goaltenders do not face many shots when their team is on a power play, allowing one goal in that situation has a huge impact statistically, as the following statistics show.

Lundqvist has only allowed 1 shorthanded goal and finished the regular season with a .972 shorthanded save percentage (35 saves on 36 shots faced). Quick has similar statistics, but has allowed 2 shorthanded goals. He stopped 35 of 37 shots, for a save percentage of .946. Rinne also faced 37 shorthanded shorts, but he allowed 3 shorthanded goals, ending up with a save percentage of .919. All three goalies faced (almost) the same amount of shorthanded shorts, and the advantage must be given to the one who allowed the least shorthanded goals.

Advantage: Henrik Lundqvist

Shootout and Penalty Shot Save Percentage

Shootouts have become an important part of the NHL game ever since they were introduced in 2005. In this one-on-one showdown between a player and a goaltender, it is important for the goaltender to be sharp when extra points in the standings are on the line. Statistically, Lundqvist is the most efficient in this situation, having allowed 7 goals on 25 shot attempts (a save percentage of .720). Lundqvist also has a 4-3 record in shootouts, which is the best record in shootouts out of the 3 goalies.

Rinne has a record of 4-5 in shootouts, allowing 9 goals on 30 shot attempts, for a save percentage of .700. Quick has allowed 16 goals on 47 shot attempts, for a save percentage of .660. His record in shootouts is 6-8, with his 8 losses tied for the league high in shootout losses among goalies.

Regarding penalty shots, all three goalies have faced one each during the regular season, and all of them made the save.

Advantage: Henrik Lundqvist

And The Winner Is...

Statistically, it can clearly be seen that the Vezina trophy this year will be contested between Henrik Lundqvist and Jonathan Quick. Both goalies played an instrumental role in helping their teams succeed. Lundqvist helped the Rangers finish with the best record in the Eastern Conference, and Quick came up huge for the Kings and allowed them to make the playoffs.

Quick had by far the best regular season of his career, and he is establishing himself as an elite goaltender in the NHL. However, he did struggle at times during the regular season, and finished the year having won only half the games he started.

Lundqvist also had a career year, and most identify his strong play throughout the season as the principle reason why the Rangers were able to win the Eastern Conference. Out of the three goalies competing for the Vezina, Lundqvist has the highest winning percentage and save percentage, these two categories arguably being the most important indicators of how good a goaltender's play was. Just the fact that Lundqvist is also a finalist for the Hart Trophy as league MVP shows how good he was this season, and he is likely to be chosen as the best goaltender of the season.

Vezina Trophy Winner: Henrik Lundqvist

As always, let us know what you think in the comments below! 

Editor's Update (06/20/2012): Henrik Lundqvist won the 2011-2012 Vezina Trophy.

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