by PuckStopsHere on 04/07/13 at 02:36 PM ET
It was still January when it became clear that Craig Anderson was the top goalie of the early season. Anderson is posting some incredible numbers. In fifteen games he has a .952 saves percentage and a 1.49 GAA. The problem is he has a high ankle sprain and hasn't played a game since February 21st. He is rumored to be returning very soon but there are goalies who have been healthy all season who have almost twice as many games played as Anderson but nobody is capable of approaching his numbers.
The two goalies who have significantly more games played than Anderson who are now better Vezina Trophy candidates are Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers. Bobrovsky has a slightly better saves percentage (.929 vs. .928) and Lundqvist has a slightly better goals against average (2.07 vs. 2.09). Lundqvist has more games played (33 vs. 28) and has faced more shots (941 vs. 787) than Bobrovsky.
A major difference between them is Bobrovsky is playing in a tougher conference on a weaker team. New York has a better group of defencemen and plays in the weaker conference (which is effectively a weaker league this season as teams have not player out of their conference). Thus I support Sergei Bobrovsky as the Vezina leader at this point in the season.
Sergei Bobrovsky was acquired by Columbus from the Philadelphia Flyers this summer in exchange for a second round draft pick and two fourth round draft picks. This is a low price to pay for a Vezina Trophy candidate.
Ironically Philadelphia is a team with goaltending issues that may miss the playoffs. Columbus about as far out of the playoffs as the Flyers but they are exceeding their expectations where the Flyers are falling below their expectations due to the Blue Jackets strong goaltending.
Philadelphia traded for Steve Mason, who had been the Columbus backup, at the trade deadline. Mason has struggled since his 2009 Calder Trophy win but there is hope that he could bounce back. There is hope that the ex-Blue Jacket goalie might be able to take over from current Flyer goalie Ilya Bryzgalov after he fails, when the current Blue Jacket goalie would have done a better job and was originally Flyer property.
Perhaps the most one-sided deal the NHL has seen in years occurred last summer in Columbus acquiring Sergei Bobrovsky. He is the current Vezina Trophy leader. If that level of play continues into the future, there is no doubt this trade will go down as one of the most one-sided in history. Philadelphia made a mistake that they are still paying for today and trying to find a way to correct it. Columbus's rebirth is largely due to Bobrovsky's play.
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