Blackhawks News

Premature Vezina Check-In: Corey Crawford is in the Conversation

By Brian Kinkade

Nov 9, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) during the second period against the San Jose Sharks at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

It’s early.  It’s very early, but it’s no longer very, very early in the NHL season.  Nearing the quarter-point in the season, let’s take a look at the top goaltenders, in the grossly early look at the Vezina Trophy contenders.

Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings

Let’s face it, he’s got everything going his way.  National recognition and respect, the highest Save Percentage among goalies who have played at least 10 games, at .943.  Quick also has the 4th highest Goals Against Average, at 1.86.  The Kings are, so far, uncharacteristically low on the Corsi For Percentage rankings, at 19th in the NHL.  This makes Quick’s numbers even more impressive, as he is the biggest reason for them not being much lower in the standings.  Quick’s record of 7-3-3, on the season should be much better, and it very well might improve, as the Kings find their game.  He also has seen the most shots go his way, and already has 2 shutouts on the season.  As of right now, he appears to have the inside track.

Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators

Rinne holds a .934 Save Percentage, which is 4th highest among goaltenders with at least 10 games played.  With 10 wins, on the season, he has the 2nd most in the league.  However, the Predators are the 5th highest in Corsi For Percentage, which means Rinne has had a bit of an easier job to do, than Quick.  Rinne also has one shutout on the season, and while if the season ended today, he wouldn’t win the Vezina, he is clearly in the conversation.

Frederik Andersen, Anaheim Ducks

Andersen has been excellent in his first full-season as a starter, for the Ducks.  When talking of goaltenders with at least 10 games played, Andersen is only behind Quick, in Save Percentage, with a remarkable .943.  Among the same crowd of goaltenders, Andersen leads the league with a 1.56 Goals Against Average.  However, Andersen is ranked 25th in the NHL, in shots against, which although this is out of his control, it does dampen his fiery stats a bit, since he has had an easier job.  It shouldn’t be totally counted against him that his team has been excellent, because he is a big part of it.  While he’s in the conversation, at the moment, he wouldn’t be going home with the Vezina, if the season ended today.

Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks

Crawford is 5th among goaltenders with 10 games played, in Save Percentage, with a gaudy .931.  He is 2nd among the same group in Goals Against Average, with a 1.76.  However, Crawford has just barely played in 10 games this season, and has only seen the 28th most shots come his way.  The Hawks are also 2nd in Corsi For Percentage, which means his job is one of the easiest in the league.  Having said that, he is mostly responsible for the Hawks not being buried in the Central Division, at this point in the season.  He has kept them in every game he has played in, and helped them win a few games that they shouldn’t have.  The numbers are half-way there, for Crow, but he isn’t quite the Vezina favorite at this early check-point.  However, he is in the early conversation for it.

Keep in mind, it is very early to be talking awards, but 15 games in, is a somewhat sizable chunk of games.  It’s wofrth the discussion, as these may very well be the goaltenders battling for personal hardware, all season long.  We’ll see.