by PuckStopsHere on 01/10/12 at 11:14 PM ET
When I last took a look at the top goalie in the league so far this year, partway through December, I picked Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins. While Thomas is still having a very good season, Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers is doing even better. Lundqvist has a better saves percentage (.939 vs. 938), a better goals against average (1.89 vs 1.99) in more games played (29 vs. 26). Both goalies play on teams that are strong defensively, but the Bruins are likely better defensively than the Rangers, so it is quite an accomplishment for Lundqvist to be putting up better numbers.
Henrik Lundqvist is a top goalie who has been a Vezina Trophy nominee three times but has never been the top goalie in the league. He has always finished a good distance back of the winner in terms of votes. Nevertheless Lundqvist looks like he could breakthrough as the top goalie in the league.
At age 29 Lundqvist may still be improving as an NHL goalie. It is often said that goalies develop slower than do position players. This statement is a bit controversial, as many counterexamples exist, but goalies improving into their 30s are not uncommon. Lundqvist has been a very good goalie in the past and he could develop into the top goalie in the league.
The numbers he is posting this season are remarkable. They rival the numbers Tim Thomas posted last year when he set a league record for his saves percentage. It is possible that both Lundqvist and Thomas could beat it this year.
We are in an age where the top goalies in the NHL are exceptionally dominant. At this point, Henrik Lundqvist and Tim Thomas have been the head of the dominant goalie class. Lundqvist is performing even better than Thomas so far this year and Thomas has been very good as well. Henrik Lundqvist is leading in this season’s Vezina Trophy race.
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