If you go looking into (way too) early favorites for the Vezina Trophy, you’re not likely to see Antti Niemi’s name pop up too often. By our estimation, right now the Vezina race boils down to Tuukka Rask, Tuukka Rask… and it looks like Tuukka Rask.
While East Coast-voters scramble for a way to vote for Rask 17 times if at all possible, Niemi is doing his best impression of a different, former Boston Bruin. It’s tough to watch the unorthodox play of Niemi and not be reminded of Tim Thomas. Even when the San Jose Sharks netminder appears out of position, he finds a way to make the save.
Leave it to the Detroit Red Wings to get Niemi some national exposure. His save on Todd Bertuzzi in the shootout last night has been everywhere today. In case you’re one of the 12 people that have yet to see the spectacular save…
Pretty impressive. The a Shark managed to stop a Red Wing like that, yeah?
Breaking down the numbers, it’s easy to see why Rask has received so much attention over the last few weeks. It’s mildly baffling that Niemi hasn’t, however.
Through seven games, Rask is sporting a 1.29 GAA. Niemi’s is 1.64. They are in fourth in sixth place respectively in that stat. There’s some discrepancy between the two save percentages, with Rask pulling down the second-best in the NHL with Niemi currently sitting in 12th.
Still, Niemi has the lead in wins right now and that is a pretty important stat as well. Niemi and Rask both have one shutout, and are chasing J.S. Giguere, who apparently has been tricked into thinking that it’s 2003 and he’s the goalie for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.
It will be fun to see how this all shakes down. Especially considering the two netminders are likely to do battle on Ocober 24, which is San Jose’s next game. They’ll be taking on the Bruins and Rask in Boston and trying to extend their points streak to nine.