Steve Yzerman recently attended the World Championships in Switzerland to scout for the 2010 Olympics. With that in mind, and after some surprise performances in the first two rounds of the playoffs, the time has come to begin the goalie watch for the Games. The Canadian home ice advantage, the use of an NHL-sized ice surface and the league’s unwillingness to commit to the 2014 games in Sochi, Russia are laying the groundwork for what could be the best hockey tournament of all time. So it’s only fitting to expect the best display of goaltending. Most countries will hold summer camps and then evaluate the first half of next season before will making their final decisions but we say let the armchair quarterbacking begin! The top contenders for the gold medal will each need to make some potentially difficult decisions so Tenders Lounge will dedicate separate posts to the medal contenders. First up, the home team Canadians.
Not only are does Team Canada face the pressure of being the host country but they also need to remove the bitter taste from a 7th place finish at the 2006 Torino games.
Luongo and Brodeur were expected to reprise their roles from Torino. Will anyone push them out of the picture?
Tonight in Toronto the NHL will host its annual award ceremony (viewable on NHL Network in the US). One goalie award is already known as Dominik Hasek and Chris Osgood will share the Jennings Trophy for best goals against average. The real goalie award is the Vezina, which will go to Martin Brodeur, Henrik Lundqvist or Evgeni Nabokov. For Brodeur a win would be his fourth (in five seasons); for Lundqvist or Nabokov it would be their first. As with any subjective award there are two ways to predict the winner… who should win it and who will win it.
How about a quick look at their statistics for the season (I’ve included playoff success even though the award is voted upon at the end of the regular season):
77 GP, 44 Wins, 4 SO, 2.17 GAA, .920 SV% and a first round playoff loss
72 GP, 37 Wins, 10 SO, 2.23 GAA, .912 SV% and a second round playoff loss
77 GP, 46 Wins, 6 SO, 2.14 GAA, .910 SV% and a second round playoff loss
My job here at TendersLounge is not to break news (I can’t compete with ESPN for that) but to comment on how it affects the world of goalies. Today the goalie world loses one of the best there’s ever been (I’m not eulogizing him, he is still alive!) as Dominik Hasek has retired from the NHL.
He is the only goalie to win the league MVP award twice. He has six Vezina trophies. He’s won the Stanley Cup twice. He was one half of the most infamous goal in recent NHL history and part of one of the most famous games in recent Olympic history. He finished his career with the highest save percentage ever.
All of those accomplishments might not even cover his biggest accomplishment and that was changing the way the position was played. You may not have been able to call it a style, but he changed the game none-the-less. Call it the ‘Hasek style of goaltending’. Call it the “stop-the-puck-with-any-part-of-your-body style”. Or as MasterCard so eloquently put it years ago, “having a slinky for a spine… priceless”.
Ask any NHL writer or hockey fan “who is the best goalie?” and for the last few years the overwhelming answer was always the same: Martin Brodeur. Yes, guys like Roberto Luongo and Marty Turco were mentioned in the same breath but in the end it has been Brodeur winning the Vezina three of the last four years. One goalie who hasn’t really been mentioned at all in that debate (but should have been) is now making his strongest case yet: San Jose’s Evgeni Nabokov.
Tenders Lounge is located in San Francisco, one hour north of the Shark Tank, so we’re a little biased towards our local goalie but Nabby’s numbers look good from anywhere. Even from New Jersey. Nabokov leads the league in wins with 46 and would have a chance at tying Brodeur’s record for wins in a season (48) but Sharks coach Doug Wilson has decided to play Brian Boucher in one of the Sharks’ last two games (read more about that decision here). Continue reading