As the regular season winds down, the Vezina has become a two-man race with plenty of ammunition for both candidates. Boston’s Tuukka Rask and Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop play for two great teams and both have been contributors to that success, but only one of them can claim the trophy. Who will it be?
1. Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins
Does Rask have a better defense in front of him? Perhaps, but he’s still stopping a lot of pucks. The Finnish fortress has surrendered just one goal per game in his past three wins and hasn’t seen the loss column since the first day of March. And in two of his past three victories, he faced more than 30 shots, so he’s not just pulling a Ken Dryden.
2. Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay Lightning
After going through a rough patch, Bishop is back to do what he does this season: win. The lanky backstop has peeled off five in a row and even though he’s giving up a strange amount of goals (14 during the streak), his stats are still near the top of the NHL.
3. Semyon Varlamov, Colorado Avalanche
The first thing that stands out is his record: Varlamov is 34-13-5 while the other three netminders of record on the team are a combined 10-7-1. The Russian Olympian has won three of his past four outings and the one dud was against Anaheim, a team that knows a thing or two about scoring.
4. Jonathan Bernier, Toronto Maple Leafs
Bernier’s value to the Buds has been obvious lately thanks to his absence. While the team MVP was laid up with a minor groin injury, Toronto went into a tailspin: he left during what turned out to be a win over L.A., then saw his squad drop three winnable games in a row. Bernier’s .925 save percentage ranks sixth overall.
5. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens
Montreal had a similar scare when Price didn’t return after the Olympic break, but now that he’s healthy, it’s back to the status quo in La Belle Province. Price has won four of five and trails Bernier ever-so-slightly in save percentage with a .924 mark.
6. Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets
Look out, ‘Officer Bob’ is hitting the streets hard again. The Jackets have worked their way up to the top three in the Metropolitan Division and their Vezina-winning netminder is getting the job done with a 3-1-1 record is his past five games and a solid .919 save percentage.
7. Ryan Miller, St. Louis Blues
If it weren’t for that last setback against Chicago, Miller would have boasted more wins than regulation losses for the first time this season. He’ll still need to rip off a few more victories to get serious consideration, but that .923 save percentage will still be there to back up his case once he does.
8. Ben Scrivens, Edmonton Oilers
He has some of the best stats in the NHL with a .931 save percentage and 2.23 goals-against average, while anecdotally you can point to certain games when he was a titan for the defensively inept squad in front of him, but starts will likely doom ‘The Professor’ when it comes to the Vezina. Even if he plays out the string, Scrivens won’t hit 40 starts.
9. Jaroslav Halak, Washington Capitals
You’ve gotta hand it to Halak: He won with the Blues, sat on the bench for two games with the Sabres and is now handling business with the Capitals. The Slovakian stopper had won three in a row before losing in a shootout to L.A. after giving up one goal through 65 minutes. Holding strong with a .920 save percentage, too.
10. Antti Niemi, San Jose Sharks
Playing on one of the best teams in the NHL never hurts, but Niemi puts in the work for the Sharks, with four shutouts, a 2.34 GAA and league-leading 35 wins. His 56 appearances puts him second overall, too, trailing only Mike Smith of Phoenix.