The NHL has announced its three choices for the Vezina Trophy today,
|2008 - Niklas Backstrom||71||4088||37||24||8||3||159||2.33||2059||1900||.923||8|
Backstrom has always played pretty well for the defensive minded Minnesota Wild. This season, Backstrom's 2.33 GAA put him third among all goaltenders and his .923 put him fourth. Many will think that his numbers are inflated due to the fact that he plays for the defensive minded Wild, but Backstrom faced the second most shots in the league. He gave his team a chance at points, converting 63.4% of the time.
|2008 - Tim Thomas||54||3259||36||11||7||4||114||2.10||1694||1580||.933||5|
As good as the Bruins were this season, Thomas was one of the major reasons for that. Thomas was first in GAA and SV% this season and led his team to an Eastern Conference title. The amazing part of Thomas' perfomance is that Thomas is 35 years old. His late bloom of sorts has taken notice in the league over the past few years and it looks that Thomas will be the front runner for the Vezina.
|2008 - Steve Mason||61||3664||33||20||7||7||140||2.29||1658||1518||.916||10|
At the opposite end of the spectrum is Steve Mason. Just like Thomas was a major reason that the Bruins make the playoffs, Mason is the same for the Blue Jackets. Mason's 2.19 GAA puts him at second in the league and his 65.6% point conversion rate is a good omen as to why he is a nominee for the Vezina. While Thomas' perfomance was more demanding, it is a good chance that Mason will at least walk away with the Calder. There have only been four goalies to win the Vezina and Calder, Eddie Belfour in 1991, Tom Barrasso in 1984, Tony Esposito in 1970 and Frankie Brimsek in 1939.
In addition to our look at the NHL's Vezina nominees, we are going to take a look at the Sabres Vezina nominee. In this case it shouldn't be that much of a debate:
|2008 - Ryan Miller||59||3443||34||18||6||6||145||2.53||1773||1628||.918||5|
If it wasn't more apparent who the Sabres most crucial player was take a look at the playoff standings on February 21st. The Sabres were looking to make a bigger push into the playoffs except for the fact that Miller got injured. That month that he missed was the key to the Sabres not making the playoffs because of the way that the team plays in front of Miller compared to the way that they play without him.
Miller's 2.53 GAA and .918 SV% are not going to light up the stats in the league but his 67.8% point conversion rate means that he gave the Sabres a chance to earn the points that they needed during the season. Nothing against the play of Lalime or Tellqvist but Miller is the key to this team and is going to be a main reason if the Sabres make the playoffs next season.
The obvious choice is Sabres will be set in goal for years to come.. Miller was the number one goalie on the team and therefore he gets it by default. The difference between this season and last season is that Ryan Miller truly earned this award. Miller rebounded from a subpar season in 2007-2008 and had what I would consider his best season in the NHL. If Miller continues to play at the level he played this season, the