This was going to be a rant against GMs in the NHL and how they blew it giving the Vezina Trophy to Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils and how the GMs, who often complain that the writers get it wrong in their voting, should have their Vezina voting privileges taken away.
But upon a sober second thought, I can’t do it. You could argue that Brodeur’s Vezina win at the NHL awards ceremony Thursday night was based more on reputation than performance, but that might be giving the short shrift to the season Brodeur had compared to fellow Vezina finalists Evgeni Nabokov of the San Jose Sharks and Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers.
Now that I look at it more closely, any one of them probably would have been a deserving choice for different reasons.
When you look at two of the finalists, Brodeur and Nabokov, there wasn’t much separating them this season. Nabokov led the league in wins with 46 and Brodeur was second with 44. Not a huge gap there. They were almost identical in goals-against average, but Brodeur’s save percentage was slightly better (.920) than that of Nabokov (.910) and Lundqvist (.912).
But here’s where the case for Marty gets its legs: Brodeur faced 2,089 shots this season, 200 more than either Nabokov or Lundqvist faced. One of the enduring myths about Brodeur is that he benefits by playing for a defensive team that doesn’t give up many shots, but the fact is Brodeur faced the fourth-most shots of any goalie in the league this season and has faced the second-most shots each of the previous two seasons.
In fact, the Devils were outshot in 35 games this season, which brings me to my next point: If you base a goalie’s worth on stealing games in which his team has been outshot, then Lundqvist should be your man. The Rangers were outshot in just 18 games this season and they had a 9-3-6 record for a .667 points percentage. The Devils were 18-13-4 (.571) and the Sharks were 10-9-2 (.524) in games in which they were outshot.
Also, since the goaltender has the most important position in the shootout, that has to be taken into account and Brodeur was by far the best in that category. This season, the Devils were 8-4 in shootouts with a .744 save percentage, compared to 6-6 and .550 for the Sharks and 6-7 and .690 for the Rangers.
And Lundqvist blew both Brodeur and Nabokov away when it came to shutouts, so it probably really was a toss-up that might have been too close to call. The GMs saw that, went with the guy who has the most impressive career credentials, and made their choice.
Upon review, no problem with that.
However, the GMs are not without flaws. How do two of them give Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens third-place votes and none to Dan Ellis of the Nashville Predators, who led the league in save percentage?
Of course, the writers weren’t without their bonehead picks either. Scott Niedermayer received two fifth-place votes for the Hart Trophy and also garnered two second-, one third- and one fourth-place vote for the Norris Trophy.
(Members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association vote on all the major awards with the exception of the Vezina, which is chosen by GMs, and the Adams, which is chosen by the NHL Broadcasters’ Association. Click HERE to see full voting results.)
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