The Vezina Trophy is awarded annually to the National Hockey League’s goaltender who has “adjudged to be the best at this position.” The winner is selected by a poll of the 30 General Managers of the teams in the NHL following the regular season. The current holder of the trophy is Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres.
But where does that leave us, the Washington Capitals fans? Cold and alone? No! Rock the Red has decided to nominate members of the Washington Capitals’ roster for each of the NHL’s awards, and pick a winner accordingly. The best part is you don’t even have to wait until the end of June to find out who wins! The incumbent Caps’ Vezina holder is Jose Theodore.
In alphabetical order:
Regular Season: 14 games (with 12 starts), 10-2-2, .934 Sv %, 1.79 GAA
Called up as insurance of other injured goaltenders, Braden Holtby proved he was more than ready to play at the NHL level. Winning 10 games of 14 played, he boasts the highest W % of the three netminders (.714%) Throughout the season, he showed his ability to remain calm under pressure (not allowing a short-handed goal, stopping the one Penalty Shot he faced) and his deftness with his stick (recording an assist on a Power Play goal on 3/15). Was named the NHL’s First Star of the Week for the week for March 6-13, going 4-0-0 with a 1.05 goals-against average, .965 save percentage and one shutout during that span. From 1/20 to 3/11, Holtby went 5-0-1 in 5 games stopping 170 of 174 shots (.978) en route to winning his final 6 appearances, including 2 shutouts, one being at the Bell Centre in Montreal – the largest arena in the NHL. Of goaltenders with a minimum of 10 starts, he is ranked first in the NHL in GAA (and second in Sv %).
Regular Season: 48 games (with 45 starts), 27-12-4, .914 Sv %, 2.45 GAA
Post Season: 9 games (with 9 starts), 4-5, .912 Sv %, 2.34 GAA
Michal Neuvirth (our team Conn Smythe winner) played excellently his entire rookie season, finishing third among rookie netminders in wins (27) and GAA (2.45). He re-wrote the Capitals’ record books all year while setting franchise records for wins by a rookie goaltender, and tying the mark for longest home winning streak (10, with Olie Kolzig) and shutouts in a season by a rookie (4). He magnified his regular season success in the playoffs, becoming the third Caps rookie to record a shut out while allowing a surplus of 3 goals twice in 9 games. Was the NHL Rookie of the Month in October, starting 10 of the teams’ 11 games and going 7-3 with a 2.15 GAA and a .926 Sv %.
Regular Season: 27 games (with 25 starts), 11-9-5, .924 Sv %, 2.33 GAA
Varlamov entered the season a favorite to be the Caps’ number one goaltender, but was quickly sidelined with injury. Although his season never really got off the ground between rehabbing and Neuvirth’s dominance between the pipes, he posted excellent numbers when he did play, posting two shut outs and allowing a surplus of 3 goals 3 times all season.
Honorable Mention: Brett Leonhardt You may have moved from DC, but you will never move from our hearts.
And your winner, pretending that the Washington Capitals are the only team in the NHL, and we are the sole voters in the PHWA: (drumroll, please) Michal Neuvirth!