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 season. The current holder of the trophy is Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins. The finalists for the 2009-10 season are the New Jersey Devils' Martin Brodeur (looking for his fifth win with his ninth nomination), the Phoenix Coyotes' Ilya Bryzgalov (first nomination) and the Buffalo Sabres' Ryan Miller (first nomination).
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 Wednesday, June 23rd to find out who wins!
In alphabetical order:
Regular Season: 17 games (with 16 starts); 9-4-0, 2.75 GAA, .914 SV %
Post Season: DNP
Neuvirth's play during his time in the NHL was a breath of fresh air for the future of Capitals' goaltending. Playing as a stand-in for an injured Semyon Varlamov, Neuvi was able to prove he belongs at the next level - and is ready for the challenge. Although looking mentally lethargic in a few starts, he combated being pulled by posting a 4-0-0 record with a 1.38 GAA and a .961 SV %. Every time he took the ice, Neuvirth's play was very fluid, very technically sound, and he was able to compliment the Caps during their franchise best win-streak, allowing a surplus of 2 goals once in the 6 games he played (of the 14).
Regular Season: 47 games (with 43 starts); 30-7-7, 2.81 GAA, .911 SV %
Post Season: 6 games (with 5 starts); 0-1-0, 3.70 GAA, .875 SV %
Jose Theodore's 2009-10 season did not start in September, as the rest of the Capitals' did. Instead, Theodore began his rocky journey to the next season the moment he was pulled in favor for Semyon Varlamov during the first game of the 2008-09 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the New York Rangers, and was amplified by the loss of his infant son Chance. Battling Varlamov for the starter's role, Theodore put together a strong October, followed by an up-and-down November and December. Taking a few days to spend with his family, Theo returned to the Capitals and played some of his best hockey since his Vezina and Hart winning campaign of 2002. Since mid January, he boasted a 20-0-3 record (2.58 GAA, .922 SV %) , while setting franchise records with 10 straight wins and his 23 decisions without a regulation loss. He collected 30 wins for the fourth time in his career while becoming the first Caps goalie to post back-to-back 30-win seasons since Olie Kolzig in 2001-02 and 2002-03. During the post-season, Theodore unsuccessfully battled defensive breakdowns in front of him and was pulled by Coach Bruce Boudreau eight minutes into the second game, yielding 2 goals on 2 shots.
Regular Season: 26 games (with 23 starts); 15-4-6, 2.55 GAA, .909 SV %
Post Season: 6 games (with 5 starts); 3-3-0, 2.41 GAA, .908 SV %
After a rocky beginning to his season, Varlamov fell into form in December and quickly sailed to a 12-1-2 record. Following an injury in mid-December (and extensive re-habbing) Varly struggled in his return appearance, but was able to spell Theodore after regaining his form in March and April. Following several un-even performances, the goaltender of last year emerged - and at the right time. Thrown into a 2-0 deficit during the second game of the playoffs, Varlamov was able to rally his team to three consecutive wins behind stellar play. While another year with an injury hampers his chances at the trophy, he was able to continue to evolve this season as a mentally-tough, gutsy, reliable goalie.
Honorable Mention: Braden Holtby Played 0 games in the regular season, but rode the bench like a champ.
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) Jose Theodore!
Former Washington Capitals' Vezina Trophy winners: Jim Carey, 1995-96; Olaf Kolzig, 1999-00