By: Lydia Murray | Follow Me on Twitter @lydia_murray12
Earlier today, the National Hockey League announced the finalists for the 2020 Vezina Trophy. Bruins starting goaltender Tuukka Rask was named one of the three finalists, along with Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, and Winnipeg Jets netminder Connor Hellebuyck. According to NHL.com, “the Vezina Trophy is an annual award given “to the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at this position” as voted by the general managers of all NHL clubs.”
Rask Was Lights-Out This Season
It’s no surprise that Rask was named a Vezina finalist this season. In 41 games this season, he posted a record of 26-8-6 and held a 2.12 goals against average and 0.929 save percentage. Those are his best numbers by far since he won the Vezina back in 2014. They were also good for the best GAA in the league and the second-best SV%. At 33 years old, all of these are quite impressive feats.
The Stats Aren’t Wrong
There’s still a lot of “Tuukka haters” out there, despite there really being no evidence for them to support their claims. So, I know there’s plenty of people out there who will argue that the only reason Tuukka’s stats were as good as they were this season was that the team was outstanding. But, that is far from the truth. Rask kept the Bruins in a lot of games this season when they weren’t at their best. There were some you could even say he stole. He also made some truly jaw-dropping saves this season. I’m sure everybody remembers the awe-inspiring blocker save from the video above.
Rask, Hellebuyck Both Deserving
Not only is Tuukka more than deserving of the nomination, but he deserves to take home the trophy this season. He has the best stats of all the finalists, and typically that’s the goalie who goes home with the hardware, even though it shouldn’t always be that way. Plus, as I said above, stats aside, Rask truly was an incredible goalie this season. He was easily one of the best, and arguably the best, goalie in the league.
But, fellow finalist Connor Hellebuyck was also incredible and deserving of the award. He stole numerous games for the Jets this year, who did not have great defense. His stats were also outstanding considering who he had playing in front of him and the number of games he played. Frankly, he’s really the only reason the Jets were able to squeak into the playoffs under the new format.
Vasilevskiy is the reigning Vezina winner, but he shouldn’t be much of a threat this season. His numbers were about average, yet he was playing on a superteam. That’s not good, and so frankly, he didn’t deserve the nomination. I don’t see any scenario in which he beats Rask or Hellebuyck for the trophy this season.
Hellebuyck and Rask were the best two goalies in the league in my opinion, and I think we’ll find the GMs agree. But, we’ll have to wait until the Conference Finals to see which order they come in at. Both are more than deserving of the award, and it’s far from surprising to see them both as finalists. It’s hard to say who’ll take it home, but I think I speak for all of us here at BNG when I say we hope it’s Tuukka. Thankfully, if history is any indication, it’s likely that it will be.