The race for the Vezina trophy may come down to three finalists, but this year it’s a two horse race between Henrik Lundqvist and Jonathan Quick. To be fair, both are very deserving of the award. They have had tremendous years, and are clearly the two best goalies this year. While we have been spoiled by having the best goalie in the world in net, the Kings would not be anywhere even close to the playoffs without Quick. Even looking at the stats, there’s no clear cut winner between the two of them:
Lundqvist: 39-17-5, 1.93 GAA, .931 SV%, 8 SO
Quick: 35-21-12, 1.93 GAA, .929 SV%, 10 SO
Before Quick gave up five goals to the Sharks, Quick’s numbers may have made him the front runner for the award. However, that five goal game gave Lundqvist the superior numbers heading into the season’s final game. The award is not just based on numbers though. Both goalies have a case for and case against that will be thought about by the GMs before a decision is made.
The case for Lundqvist
Lundqvist is the single most important player on the best team in the Eastern Conference, and possibly the NHL. The Rangers have had significant injuries to two of their top four defensemen, and have used a whopping 11 players on the blue line throughout the season. All that in a division that has four teams with 100 points, and four of the top six seeds in the Eastern Conference. If the division winners weren’t given the top three seeds, than the division would have four of the top five seeds. Against those opponents in the Atlantic, Lundqvist is 14-5-0 with a 1.84 GAA and a .936 SV%. Lundqvist is the best goalie in the league playing in the toughest division in the NHL.
The case against Lundqvist
Despite the injuries to the top four defense, the Rangers still boast one of the top defensive teams in the league. They are 2nd in blocked shots with 1,321 and 3rd in goals against (183, of course LA is ahead of them in goals against with 176). The Rangers are also the more balanced team who is in the upper half of the league in scoring (11th – 225). To put this in perspective, the Kings are 29th in blocked shots and goals for. Also, Lundqvist’s roughest month happens to be the most recent month, while Quick’s was much earlier in the season.
The case for Quick
Quick leads the league in shutouts, but that isn’t a determining factor since Lundqvist didn’t win last year despite leading the league in shutouts. Quick also doesn’t have the benefit of any offensive support. As mentioned above, Quick received just 192 goals, which is good for 29th in the league. Until he gave up five goals to the Sharks, he also had the better stats. Quick has played an equal role in getting his team to the playoffs, and had to deal with his coach getting fired halfway through the season.
The case against Quick
The Pacific Division is not as strong as the Atlantic. None of the five teams will crack 100 points, and none of them have a goal differential better than +17. Quick may have more shutouts, but he is only 9-8-1 against the same quality of opponents the Rangers have faced (the top five offensive teams in the conference).
There’s no “bad” choice for the Vezina this season. Ranger fans will be outraged if Quick wins, and Kings fans will be outraged if Lundqvist wins. At the risk of sounding like a homer, that five goal game put Lundqvist back on top for the voting. Quick is a fine goalie, but Lundqvist has been the better goalie in a much tougher division.