The NHL continues to announce its finalist for the end-of-season awards this week, with the Vezina Trophy finalists, which name the league’s best goaltender, being named on Wednesday. Sergei Bobrovsky, Antti Niemi, and Henrik Lundqvist were named the three finalists for the award.
While there’s pretty much no doubt that the trophy is going to go to Bobrovsky, who had an absolutely outstanding year. But regardless of who the award ends up going to, there’s little doubt that Jimmy Howard should have at least been named a finalist for the Vezina.
The Detroit Red Wings continued their incredible run of postseason appearances, managing to grab the seventh seed in the Western Conference on the last day of the season. If it weren’t for Howard, though, this team would likely have been battling to stay out of the cellar.
As the season went on, Howard got better. When the Red Wings needed wins the most, Howard came to play. After he signed a six-year extension, officially making him the franchise goaltender and keeping him off the free agent market, he played his best hockey of the season.
Howard’s final numbers on the season were right there in league with the three goaltenders named Vezina finalists. He ended the year with a .923 save percentage and a .914 save percentage. His five shutouts were tied for the best in the league.
Obviously it’s an award for what one accomplished over the course of the entire year, and while Howard was steady over the course of the entire season, what he did in the final few weeks of the regular season was most impressive.
Three of Howard’s five shutouts came in his last seven starts of the regular season. In another two of those final seven starts, he allowed just one goal, and allowed only two in another. He certainly proved that he belonged in league with the top netminders in the National Hockey League.
Jimmy Howard cemented his status as a goaltender who belongs in the upper tier, with the best of the best. He may not be deserving of the award, but certainly should have at least been a finalist for the award.