At the time of his injury on Feb 21, Craig Anderson was on a pace to capture the Vezina trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender. Has the fact that he missed 20 games in a 48 game season due to the injury taken away the chance for the Senators’ goaltender to raise some NHL hardware?
I did a little research in to the past Vezina trophy winners to see if there is still a chance that Anderson could do enough to sway voters despite his lack of playing time.
Anderson has played in just 18 of Ottawa’s 41 games so far, and could play in up to 6 of the remaining 7 games. Although I don’t think the Senators would want to wear him out heading into the playoffs, and Robin Lehner is a capable backup. So to look conservatively, Anderson should probably play 5 of the last 7 to give him 23 of 48 games played, or just under 48% of his team’s games.
I wanted to see what history says. Since the Vezina Trophy became an award that was voted on in 1981-82 (it was given to the netminding team allowing the fewest goal against prior to that), here are the winners, and the percentage of their team’s games the winner started. I also include whether the winner led the league in Goals Against Average (GAA) and/or Save Percentage:
|Year||VEZINA WINNER||GP||Team GP||% GP||Highest SP||Lowest GAA|
So, as you can see, it has been 20 years since a goalie who has played less than 75% of their team’s games has gone on to win the Vezina Trophy. No goalie who has played less than 50% of his team’s games has ever won the Vezina trophy. The closest to that mark was 1981-82 and 1893-84 where Billy Smith and Tom Barrasso respectively won the award playing 52.5% of their team’s games.
So, what happens when a goalie leads the league in both SP and GAA? Well, it has happened 11 times where one goalie has accomplished both feats. Six times the goalie has gone on to win the Vezina, as listed above. What about the other 5? Well, it could be a factor of games played, as listed below.
|Year||Player||GP||Team GP||% GP|
So judging by these facts, it would appear that Anderson is fighting an uphill battle in his quest for the Vezina. Games played will be a big factor, since the only time a player played more than 60 % of his team’s games and didn’t win the Vezina while leading the league in both statistical categories was Turco in 2002-03.
Even if Anderson plays all 7 of Ottawa’s remaining games, that would give him only 52% of his team’s games. While there is some recent precedent set for goalies (notably Tim Thomas) for not having a huge percentage of games played, Anderson’s 52% would be the lowest GP percentage to ever win the award, injury or no injury.
So Anderson has been arguably the best goalie in the NHL this season, the amount of time he missed due to injury will likely result in his being omitted from the honor when the ballots are submitted by the NHL’s General Managers.