Saturday, May 30, 2009
Tim Thomas A Lock For The Vezina Trophy?

The Vezina Trophy, for all of those who live under a rock, is awarded to a goalie in the NHL who is “adjudged to be the best at this position.” The award is voted on by the every general manager who runs each NHL team. This year, the 3 finalists are Niklas Bäckström from the Minnesota Wild, rookie Steve Mason from the Columbus Blue Jackets (I know right, Columbus?) and our homeboy Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas.

Thomas has undoubtedly had the best season of his short career this year as he led the Bruins to the top seed in the East. His Goals Against Average (GAA) and Save Percentage (S%) were the best in the NHL while placing sixth in the NHL with victories (36) and only playing in 54 games. Thomas also won the Williams M. Jennings trophy which is given to “the goalkeeper(s) having played a minimum of 25 games for the team with the fewest goals scored against it. Winners are selected based on regular-season play.” (Factoid, this is ManFran’s second Jennings trophy).

Both Bäckström and Mason had pretty incredible numbers as well. Listed below is a table I put together to look at their numbers and use a statistical view to see which player has the advantage when it comes to being the 2008-2009 winner of the Vezina Trophy.

Name

GP

W

L

OT

GAA

S%

SO

Tim Thomas

54

36

11

7

2.10

.933

5

Niklas Bäckström

71

37

24

8

2.29

.923

8

Steve Mason

61

33

20

7

2.33

.916

10

(Red/Bold means the player led the league in that category)

Thomas led the league in the two most important statistics when it comes to a goalie: GAA and S%, but what does that actually mean? In 2007-2008, Martin Brodeur won the Vezina despite having the league’s seventh best GAA (based on 13 starts or more) and the eleventh best S% with .920 (same stipulations apply as GAA). Well, maybe the 2006-2007 Vezina Trophy winner posted better numbers. Ah, Mr. Brodeur again: In the 2006-2007 season Brodeur was third in the NHL with a GAA of 2.18 and third with a S% of .922 (same stipulations, again).

So what does that hold for Timmeh? Well look at the other two finalists. Steve Mason had a spectacular rookie season and is also in the running for rookie of the year. His 10 shutouts were tops in the regular season and led the Blue Jackets to their first NHL playoff appearance. Everyone loves an underdog and Mason exemplifies the very sense of the word. He plays in a sub-par hockey city (my own personal view) on a very average team, yet put them on his back and ended up in the playoffs.

Niklas Bäckström has been a fantastic goalie for the Wild since he broke into the league. Every year Bäckström has played at a high level for Minnesota and, despite their terrible play, has been a bright spot since the 2006-2007. Although he is not a league leader in any category, he remains one of the best.

So my thoughts? I may be a little biased, but I believe that Thomas SHOULD come home with the Vezina Trophy simply based on leading the NHL in both GAA and S%. Wins and losses are much like the wins and losses of a relief pitcher in baseball, they don’t mean anything.

Theoretically, a goalie could turn away 50 shots and still lose 1-0, thus giving him a loss. Same as a relief pitcher in baseball. When you look for a good relief pitcher, you look at innings pitched and ERA. When you look at a goalie, you look at GAA and S%.

With that said, I see Thomas taking this trophy. Mason and Bäckström are solid finalists, but Thomas was THE REASON why the Bruins ended up as the best team in the East.

2 Comments:
OpenID interpolreborn said...
backstrom had similar numbers with 16 more games and a worse team playing in front of him. i see backstrom taking it.

Blogger Pezell said...
Interesting point! I don't know if the team's play will affect the voting.

It'll be a Thomas/Backstrom 1-2

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