NHL – Early Season Vezina Trophy Favorites

We’re just a quarter of the way into this year’s lockout shortened NHL season and already some goalies are standing out. Now, it is early to pass judgement on goalies especially due to how streaky they can be, but you have to keep an eye out for these goalies in the remaining 75% of the NHL season.

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Craig Anderson – Ottawa Senators

Anderson got off to a blazing hot start to the season for the Senators which saw them go 3-0-1 in his first four starts. In those games, Anderson allowed just 3 goals on 119 shots giving him a .974 save percentage.

However, after the loss of their leading scorer from the previous season, Jason Spezza, the team has gone just 4-5-1. Despite the team’s woes, in his games since the loss of the team’s alternate captain, Anderson still has a .932 save percentage and a 2.00 goals against average in his 9 starts.

If the Senators are to make the playoffs this year, especially with the loss of last year’s James Norris Trophy winner, Erik Karlsson, expect Anderson to be a huge reason for it.

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Corey Crawford – Chicago Blackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks are off to one of the best starts the NHL has ever seen going 12-0-3 in their first 15 games. Corey Crawford has been between the pipes for 10 of them, despite missing the last 2 due to an upper-body injury.

Crawford boasts a 1.65 goals against average and a .935 save percentage so far. While those numbers might jump off the page at you, the most impressive stat about Crawford this season is the one shutout he recorded. Now the shutout itself may not be impressive, – an easy 17 save game versus the NHL’s worst offensive team in the Nashville Predators – but the shutout was the first by a Blackhawks goaltender since March 23, 2011. Almost 2 whole years.

It’s no question the Chicago Blackhawks will be competing for hockey’s holy grail with 15 other teams come May, but whether or not the team wins the President’s Trophy with the league’s best record will ultimately fall on Crawford’s shoulders.

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Viktor Fasth – Anaheim Ducks

Viktor Fasth and the Anaheim Ducks are without a doubt the NHL’s biggest surprise thus far. The 30 year old Swedish “rookie” started off the season as the back-up to former All-Star Jonas Hiller. It didn’t take long for Fasth to shake the title of “back-up” and steal the starting job from Hiller.

Fasth has started the season 8-0-0 boasting incredible numbers for any goalie, let alone one playing in his first season. Fasth’s 1.76 goals against average and .933 save percentage are good for 5th and 6th among starters, respectively. He also has more wins than any other goalie.

Anaheim is off to their best start since going 11-2-1 in 2006-2007, the year they won the Stanley Cup, thanks to Fasth. Expect Fasth, who was the Swedish Elite League’s top goaltender last season, to be in serious Vezina consideration at the end of the year.

- Rocco Cimino

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