Tuukka Rask took home the Vezina as the league’s top goalie in the 2013-14 season. Can he do it again?
In a recent story on NHL.com, the website’s panel made their arguments on which goalies deserved to be considered for the Vezina Trophy. The favorites to win were Rask, Connor Hellebuyck (WPG), and Andrei Vasilevskiy (TBL), in that order.
Rask, who recently turned 33 years old, came in first with a total of 10 first-place votes. Hellebuyck and Vasilevskiy both had 4 first-place votes.
The Finnish netminder had a great season, holding a record of 26-8-6, with a GAA of 2.12, and a save percentage of .929, with 5 shutouts. He did not lose a game in regulation at home until February 25th.
The only thing holding Tuukka back from a sure fire Vezina Trophy, is the fact that he split so many starts with Jaroslav Halak. Tuukka only started 41 games, while both runner ups played at least 11 more games than him.
Looking at the advanced metrics for goaltenders, the case for Tuukka to win the Vezina only grows.
Of all goaltenders with a minimum of 25 games played, Rask had a save% aboved expected of .823. The next closest was Hellebuyck, with a .774. Rask ranked second in save% on unblocked shots, with a strong .960. Only his former teammate, Anton Khudobin, finished with a higher percentage, coming in with a .961. Impressively, Rask had a GSAA (Goals Saved Above Average) of 22.51, which led all NHL goalies.
Does Tuukka Deserve the Vezina?
I think so, he was consistently great for the bruins and the stats back it up. However, it is important to recognize that Rask’s numbers might be slanted because he did not play in as many games as his co-favorites, and he was playing behind a very strong defensive team, unlike Hellebuyck in Winnipeg, who faced a grand total of 1,796 shots, while Rask faced roughly 600 less shots.
Regardless, there’s no argument that Tuukka Rask has cemented himself as an all time great, and should be considered by everyone as the runner up, if not the deserving winner of the NHL’s Vezina Trophy.
-Bradley Whitesell (@bradiey98)