The 2011-2012 Vezina Trophy finalists were announced on Wednesday, and New York Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist was one of three names on the list, along with Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings, and Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators.
For much of the season, Lundqvist was not only the frontrunner for the Vezina Trophy, but was also in strong contention for league MVP. He was the clear star of the team that finished with the second best record in the league, and was a dominant force between the pipes.
If not for a mini-slump in the final weeks of the season, the trophy would’ve been all but locked up by King Henrik. Still, he deserves to bring home the trophy for his work throughout the year.
Along with Ludnqvist, Quick is an obvious selection as a finalist. However, despite Rinne’s great year and league-leading 43 wins, his inclusion is a little bit of an outlier. He ranked just 14th amongst GAA leaders for the season.
Comparing Lundqvist to Quick head-to-head is intriguing to say the least. Lundqvist finished with 39 wins (3rd) in 62 games, a 1.97 GAA (4th), .930 Save Percentage (t-3rd) and 8 shutouts (t-3rd).
Quick sported 35 wins (t-5th) in 69 games, a 1.95 GAA (2nd), .929 Save Percentage (5th) and 10 shutouts (1st).
Lundqvist faced an average of 28.2 shots per game, Quick faced a similar workload of 27 shots per game.
The margin couldn’t be slimmer regardless of who you feel deserves the edge. A few more or less shots faced for either man would twist the stats in his favor.
Lundqvist won a far greater portion of the games he started, 39 of 62 for a 62.9% winning percentage, while Quick won 35 of 69, 50.7% of his starts. Quick didn’t have as much offensive support, however.
One deciding factor could be their respective performances in shootouts. Lundqvist was 4-3 with a .720 Save Percentage, while Quick had many more appearances but was 6-8 with a .660 Save Percentage. Further, Lundqvist gave up two game-winning goals in Overtime, while Quick gave up five.
The final argument comes from the overall team standings. The Rangers notched 51 wins and 109 points, good enough for the number 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, while the Kings finished with 40 wins and 95 points as the number 8 seed in the West.
Ultimately, with the statistics so very close and comparable, Lundqvist deserves to win the Vezina Trophy for being the dominant and most valuable player of a team that finished at the top of the standings.
This article was first published by Jake Emen on Yahoo! Sports on April 25, 2012