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Vezina Watch: One more the Harding way

Ryan Kennedy
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Author: The Hockey News

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Vezina Watch: One more the Harding way

Ryan Kennedy
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Rask is rising while the two Bens are falling in our second look at the NHL's best goaltenders.

Save percentages have been on the rise, historically, with Tim Thomas posting two of the three best season marks for a starter. His .938 in 2010-11 just beats out Dominik Hasek’s .937 from 1998-99 and in 2008-09 Thomas went off for a .933 season. But finding multiple netminders who can stop 93 percent of the shots directed at them is a possibility this year as the Vezina race begins to take shape.

1. Josh Harding, Minnesota

Still trucking along. Harding has surrendered just eight goals in his past five outings and brings the gold standard of stat lines: Three shutouts, 1.52 goals-against average and .938 save percentage. He also owns 16 of Minnesota’s 18 wins.

2. Tuukka Rask, Boston

The Tuukka train is starting to really chug along as the Finnish Olympic hopeful has given up only seven goals in his past four decisions as the Bruins appear to be the class of the East. Like Harding, his stats are hot, with a 1.87 GAA and .935 save percentage.

3. Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh

If anyone is going to challenge Boston in the East, it’s Pittsburgh (probably to a knife fight, but that’s not important right now…) and Fleury is doing his part. He has just one loss in his past five starts, ironically, to the Bruins. Otherwise, his 17 wins is tops in the NHL, while his workload is heavier than anyone other than Antti Niemi.

4. Ben Scrivens, Los Angeles

Scrivens still has excellent stats, particularly his league-leading .943 save percentage and 1.56 GAA. So why the drop from the first Vezina Watch, when he ranked second? Because Martin Jones, the third-stringer, has been playing just as well. Better, in fact, albeit in a small sample size. Every Jones start is one Scrivens won’t get back once Jonathan Quick is healthy.

5. Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay

The Bolts are still hanging on in the absence of Steven Stamkos and though Bishop had a poor outing against Washington this week, he’s usually good for a night where no more than two goals get past him. The losses are becoming more frequent, but the .931 save percentage is still sparkling.

6. Carey Price, Montreal

He got yanked against Los Angeles this week and lost a nail-biter to Philly, but Price is still the man in Montreal and may even get the nod at the Olympics for Canada. A .933 save percentage is nothing to sneeze at, either.

7. Roberto Luongo, Vancouver

One man who might have something to say about crease duty in Sochi is Luongo, the netminder of record last time Canada won Olympic gold. ‘Bobby Lu’ is heating up on the Left Coast, dropping one bad game to the Rangers, but winning the four surrounding it, giving up no more than two in any of the triumphs.

8. Antti Niemi, San Jose

The Sharks hit the skids recently, breaking a four-game losing streak by beating the Wild. Niemi is still the busiest goaltender in the NHL and is tied with Fleury for most wins with 17. He got yanked in a loss to Pittsburgh and let the Isles snap a 10-game losing streak via shootout in San Jose.

9. Jaroslav Halak, St. Louis

His 15-5-2 record is pretty stellar and though Halak has an excellent cast in front of him, he’s still been solid for the Blues. With superior play to partner Brian Elliott, Halak may get more love as the season progresses.

10. Jonas Gustavsson, Detroit

Wild card alert! ‘The Monster’ is 8-1-2 and two of those setbacks came recently, but he only let in three regulation goals total in defeat. His 1.93 GAA and .931 save percentage numbers are fierce, now it’s just a matter of wresting more starts away from Jimmy Howard.

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Vezina Watch: One more the Harding way