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Can Ottawa Senators Goalie Craig Anderson Still Win The Vezina Trophy?

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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?

Apr 12, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; Ottawa Senators goalie

Craig Anderson

(41) makes a glove save during the third period at the Prudential Center. The Senators defeated the Devils 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

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:

YearVEZINA WINNERGPTeam GP% GPHighest SPLowest GAA
81-82Billy Smith428052.50no
82-83Pete Peeters628077.50yes
83-84Tom Barrasso428052.50nono
84-85Pelle Lindbergh658081.25nono
85-86John Vanbiesbrouck618076.25nono
86-87Ron Hextall668082.50yesno
87-88Grant Fuhr758093.75nono
88-89Patrick Roy488060.00yesyes
89-90Patrick Roy548067.50yesno
90-91Ed  Belfour748092.50yesyes
91-92Patrick Roy678083.75yesyes
92-93Ed  Belfour718484.52nono
93-94Dominik Hasek588469.05yesyes
94-95Dominik Hasek414885.42yesyes
95-96Jim Carey718286.59nono
96-97Dominik Hasek678281.71yesno
97-98Dominik Hasek728287.80yesno
98-99Dominik Hasek648278.05yesno
99-00Olaf Kolzig738289.02nono
00-01Dominik Hasek678281.71nono
01-02Jose Theodore678281.71yesno
02-03Martin Brodeur738289.02nono
03-04Martin Brodeur758291.46nono
04-05none
05-06Miikka Kiprusoff748290.24noyes
06-07Martin Brodeur788295.12nono
07-08Martin Brodeur778293.90nono
08-09Tim Thomas548265.85yesyes
09-10Ryan Miller698284.15nono
10-11Tim Thomas578269.51yesyes
11-12Henrik Lundqvist628275.61nono
12-13???

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.

YearPlayerGPTeam GP% GP
11-12Brian Elliott388246.34
09-10Tuukka Rask458254.88
03-04Mikka Kiprusoff388246.34
02-03Marty Turco558267.07
00-01Marty Turco268231.71

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.

Names that have been tossed around lately as contenders for the award include Sergei Bobrovsky, Carey Price, Antti Niemi, Niklas Backstrom, and Henrik Lundqvist.