Last week, the NHL released the finalists for the 2021 Vezina Trophy. The award for most outstanding goaltender is voted on by the general managers around the NHL, but let’s see what the hockey community thinks.
Marc-Andre Fleury kicked things off among the nominees, becoming a Vezina finalist for the first time in his 17-year NHL career. The highest he has previously finished is fourth, but he’ll set a new bar at age-36 after posting a .928 save percentage in 36 appearances. Fleury went 26-10 for the Vegas Golden Knights, taking home the Jennings Trophy along with Robin Lehner as the goaltenders for the team with the league’s lowest goals-against average. Among goaltenders with at least 20 starts, he trailed only Alex Nedeljkovic and Semyon Varlamov (neither of whom are finalists) in save percentage.
Next came Philipp Grubauer, almost exactly seven years Fleury’s junior. The 29-year-old has been excellent in the past as a tandem option but has never played enough to get into the Vezina conversation. That changed this year when Grubauer played 40 games for the Colorado Avalanche, posting a 30-9-1 record and .922 save percentage. He led the league in shutouts with seven and actually had a slightly lower goals-against average than Fleury (though still not as low as Nedeljkovic). For years the Avalanche goaltending was questioned, but Grubauer answered all the doubters with a legitimate Vezina-level campaign.
If either of the first-time finalists are to take home the trophy, they’ll have to topple a goaltender who lives in the final three. Andrei Vasilevskiy is a finalist for the fourth consecutive season after leading the league in wins once again. The Tampa Bay Lightning netminder won the award in 2019 and is the almost-unbreakable last line of defense behind a strong roster. While his name and pedigree will obviously make him a tough competitor in award voting, Vasilevskiy’s .925 save percentage trailed Fleury and his 2.21 goals against average was much higher than his fellow finalists.
All three goaltenders have incredible statistics and play for some of the best teams in the league. Who deserves to take home the Vezina? Cast your vote below–if you think it should have been someone else, make sure to explain why in the comment section!
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