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In The Crease

Price and Rinne have Hart

by Corey Abbott
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

It's been a little while since I've done a Goalie Report, so let's take a look at who is making headlines in the crease.

 

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Top Tier

 

Carey Price and Pekka Rinne will be the front-runners for the Vezina Trophy at the end of the season, but they also deserve some serious consideration for the Hart Trophy as well. Price leads the league with a 1.93 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage, while Rinne owns a 1.94 GAA and a .932 save percentage. Rinne leads the way with 34 wins and Price is second with 32 victories.

 

When we delve into some fancy stats for goaltenders, Price ranks first among all goaltenders with a goals saved above average of 29.09. Rinne is just behind him with a GSAA of 23.91. According to the fine folks at hockey-reference.com, this number calculates the number of goals a goalie prevents given his save percentage and shots faced versus the league average save percentage on the same number of shots. No other puck stopper in the league is above the 20-mark and Cory Schneider is the next-closest at 16.32.

 

When making a case for the Hart, Montreal would probably be battling for a playoff spot if Price was removed from the roster. The team wins plenty of tight games and their goaltender deserves plenty of credit for that. The Habs sit 23rd in the NHL with 2.56 goals for per game, but they are tied for first in the Eastern Conference with 78 points. We saw what happened to the Predators last season when Rinne spent most of the year on the sidelines with a hip infection. Nashville finished 19th in the league's overall standings and the team had a minus-26 goal differential. In 2014-15, the Preds have the best record in the NHL and they own a plus-43 goal differential. They also possess a league-best .625 winning percentage when they get outshot.

 

It will be very interesting to see if the NHL nominates two goaltenders for the Hart. I'm skeptical that they will, but it doesn't change the fact that Price and Rinne are more than deserving of the honor.

 

Rebounding in fine fashion

 

Devan Dubnyk has been a revelation in Minnesota. He struggled mightily as a member of the Edmonton Oilers in 2013-14 before he was traded to Nashville. Dubnyk made two unsuccessful appearances with the Predators before he was dealt to Montreal. The Canadiens buried him in the minors and his play didn't get any better. He signed a one-year deal with Arizona on July 1 to serve as Mike Smith's backup. Dubnyk outperformed Smith during his time with the Coyotes and he was surprised when the team shipped him to the Wild. Since joining Minnesota, he has earned an impressive 11-2-1 record to go with a .936 save percentage and a 1.73 goals-against average. He has also posted four shutouts. It shouldn't come as a surprise that he's started 15 straight games even though the Wild have Niklas Backstrom and Darcy Kuemper, who recently returned from injury, on the roster. Dubnyk's play has helped the Wild claw their way back into the playoff hunt He's had a remarkable turnaround and will definitely be considered as one of the bounce back players of the year.

 

Another goalie who could make the cut on that list is Braden Holtby. It was thought by a few of us at Rotoworld, including yours truly, that Holtby would rebound this campaign under a new coach and a more stable crease environment where he was definitive starter. He started 21 consecutive contests from Dec. 2 to Jan. 16 and made 27 straight appearances. During his start streak, Holtby had a 14-3-4 record to go with a 2.08 GAA and a .931 save percentage. He ranks third in the league with 1,376 shots against and third in stops with 1,272. Holtby is also tied for second in the league with six shutouts. He's been a major reason why the Capitals should return to the playoffs this season.

 

Injury pile up

 

Henrik Lundqvist, Frederik Andersen, Sergei Bobrovsky, Steve Mason and Craig Anderson are the most notable of the bunch to suffer injuries. The closest to being able to return is probably Andersen, who is expected to travel with the Ducks on their Alberta road trip this weekend. That could be bad news for John Gibson, who has become Anaheim's starter during Andersen's absence. The Ducks may send him back to the minors when Andersen is healthy even though backup netminder Ilya Bryzgalov has awful statistics this year.

 

Viktor Fasth and Robin Lehner were hurt recently. Edmonton got Ben Scrivens back from injured reserve at the same time Fasth went on it, but the Senators weren't as fortunate. Ottawa had to play third-string netminder Andrew Hammond against Montreal on Wednesday. In his first NHL start, he posted a remarkable 42 saves in a 4-2 victory.

 

Light Night

 

Semyon Varlamov has seen plenty of playing time this season when he's been healthy. He has started 14 straight contests and has over 2,000 minutes logged this season. Varlamov faced an odd situation in Monday's game versus Arizona. He faced only five shots and didn't play in the third period because the Avalanche had a 5-1 lead at the time. Coach Patrick Roy decided to give Varlamov a break, but the Coyotes basically did that for him during the second period when they weren't credited with a single shot on goal. It was the first time in franchise history that Colorado didn't allow a shot against for an entire period.

 

Young Stars

 

Before he was demoted to the minors, Petr Mrazek showed he is ready for full-time NHL duty and that will likely come in 2015-16 as Jimmy Howard's backup. During Howard's absence, he piled up victories and went down to AHL with a 13-5-1 record as a member of the Red Wings.

 

Andrei Vasilevskiy's emergence this season bumped Evgeni Nabokov from Tampa Bay's roster. Nabokov announced his retirement shortly after he was traded back to San Jose. Vasilevskiy has a 2.13 GAA and a .927 save percentage in his first nine NHL appearances. Ben Bishop is still entrenched as the team's starter, but Lightning fans should be excited by the 20-year-old Russian eventually becoming the top netminder.

 

John Gibson is back up with the Ducks because of Andersen's injury. He lost his chance to battle for Anaheim's number one job because of a groin injury. Andersen has played brilliantly this year, so Gibson may have to return to the minors once he's ready to return. Gibson will have to try to secure more NHL playing time next season.

 

All three of them were stars at the World Junior Championships for their respective countries. Mrazek was named the best goalie of the 2012 tournament and Gibson captured the award in 2013. Vasilevskiy was excellent for the Russians for three straight years, but he didn't receive the same honor. It won't be long before these goaltenders are carrying the load in the NHL, but they have very strong goaltenders ahead of them on the depth chart right now. Still, they all have very high ceilings as big-league netminders and fantasy owners should keep a close eye on them.

Corey Abbott

Corey Abbott is an Editor for Hockey on Rotoworld. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @CoreAbbott.