As the midpoint of the NHL season nears, it’s time to look at where the best goaltenders in the league stand in the race for the Vezina Trophy — which is awarded annually to the best goalie in the NHL.
Marc-Andre Fleury captured the award last season for his play for the Vegas Golden Knights. Fleury is in Chicago this season. He is not in the conversation for the 2022 award. Last year’s runner-up, Andrei Vasilevskiy of the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, is in the hunt for what would be his second Vezina. He captured his first in 2017. Also in the running are Jack Campbell of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Igor Shesterkin of the New York Rangers.
2021-22 Vezina Trophy Odds
|To Win 2022 Vezina|
Jack Campbell impresses
I don’t know what the Toronto Maple Leafs expected from Jack Campbell. I do know what fans and oddsmakers did not expect and that was for Campbell to contend for the Vezina Trophy during the 2021-22 NHL season. Campbell was not among the players the readers of “The Hockey News” picked to contend for the Vezina and he was listed at 26.00 in the preseason odds. Today, the 30-year-old is the favourite to win the award of best NHL goaltender at 4.95, which is a huge jump from December, when he was at 9.00.
Campbell is third in the NHL in goals-against average (2.02), second in save percentage (.935), third in wins (18) and second in shutouts (4).
With all the above, there is a huge question mark about Campbell. His career-high in games played is 31. That came in 2018-19 when he played for the Los Angeles Kings. The jury is out on whether or not Campbell can sustain the level of play he has displayed during the first half of the 2021-22 NHL season.
Vasilevskiy on the hunt for second Vezina
Andrei Vasilevskiy won the Vezina Trophy in 2019. He finished third in 2020 and he was a very close second to Fleury in 2021. Vasilevskiy led the Tampa Bay Lightning to the best record in the NHL in 2019, the fourth-best record in 2020 and the eighth-best record last season. The team has Stanley Cup wins in the past two seasons. Vasilevskiy, who has played in 29 games this season, has helped the Lightning to the second-best record in the NHL right now at 24-9-5. The team is currently favoured to once again represent the NHL’s Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Final. Vasilievskiy’s 20 wins this season have him tied for first place in that category with Juuse Saros of the Nashville Predators.
Where there might be some doubt about Campbell, Vasilevskiy has long ago answered any questions about his ability to play and sustain his play at the highest level in the NHL.
Igor Shesterkin is another player who is much higher in the Vezina odds at the halfway point of the season than he was before the 2021-22 NHL campaign began. The 26-year-old netminder of the New York Rangers is first in the NHL in save percentage at .936 and third in goals-against average at 2.09. Shesterkin is doing a fantastic job in the New York net, however, Shesterkin has faced the 21st most shots in the NHL this season, nearly two hundred shots less than Vasilevskiy and 160 fewer than Campbell. It’s hard to tell how much the Rangers’ defence is helping Shesterkin, but it’s hard to deny that they are. That could hurt his chances when it comes to first-place votes for the Vezina.
Saros is your sleeper
The Nashville Predators are currently in first place in the Western Conference with a record of 24-11-2 and 50 points. The play of goaltender Juuse Saros is one reason the team is in the top spot. Saros, who was not even on the pre-season list of Vezina contenders for many oddsmakers, has the fifth-best save percentage in the NHL at .928 and is tied for the league lead in wins with 30. What makes Saros’ play more noteworthy and puts him in the running for the Vezina is that he has faced 937 shots this season, which is 58 more shots than Thatcher Demko of the Vancouver Canucks, who is second in that category.
Our Canada Sports Betting Vezina Trophy Pick
All signs point to Andrei Vasilevskiy earning his second Vezina.
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