This week we’re taking advantage of the All-Star Break to take stock of how Blackhawks players (and coach) rank among their peers when the NHL Awards are handed out in Vegas this summer. So far, we’ve talked about the Hart Trophy and the Jack Adams Award.
Now, let’s chat about the Vezina Trophy.
We initially associated Crawford’s name with the Vezina back in November, and were quickly rewarded with Crawford’s worst stretch of the season. Yet here we are at the end of January and Crawford leads the NHL with a career-high seven shutouts. Crawford is also second in the league in wins (28), fourth in save percentage (.931) and tenth in goals against average (2.14). Fans have used the skaters in front of Crawford as a crutch to disregard his performances in the past, but our article in November noted his exceptional play while Duncan Keith was on the shelf for a month early in the season.
Patrick Kane might be the league’s MVP, but a strong case can be made that Crawford has been the most valuable player on the Hawks’ roster so far this year.
Braden Holtby, Washington
This is really a two-horse race right now between Crawford and Holtby, who has backstopped the Capitals to the NHL’s best record heading to the break. Holtby holds a slight advantage over Crawford in wins (30) and goals against average (2.01) and is right with him in save percentage (.930). Both goaltenders are having an exceptional season between the pipes, and it will be an absolute shame that one of them doesn’t win the award this year.
Cory Schneider, New Jersey
Schneider is worthy of being on the short list for the Vezina this year and has been among the best in the game since leaving Vancouver. He ranks among the league’s best in wins (22 – 6th), save percentage (.929 – 7th), goals against average (2.03 – 5th) and shutouts (4 – 3rd).
Roberto Luongo, Florida
Michal Neuvirth, Philadelphia
John Gibson, Anaheim
If we were betting our next paycheck on the award, the money would be on Holtby because Rodney Dangerfield got more respect than Crawford does from the hockey world. But anyone who has watched this Blackhawks team on a nightly basis knows that there’s no way this team is leading the Western Conference at the All-Star Break without Crawford between the pipes.