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Niklas Backstrom named Vezina finalist

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Likely the first of two Minnesota Wild players to vie for post-season accolades, Niklas Backstrom was named a finalist for the Vezina trophy, along with Tim Thomas and Steve Mason.

Steve Mason, the brilliant young goalie of the Columbus Blue Jackets, could become only the fifth NHL player to win the Vezina and Calder trophies in the same year.

But he'll have to beat out the Minnesota Wild's Niklas Backstrom, and Tim Thomas, whose league-leading goals-against average was a driving force for the Eastern Conference champion Boston Bruins this season.

The three Vezina Trophy finalists finished 1-2-3 in lowest goals-against average. Thomas allowed a mere 2.10 goals per game, while Mason was next at 2.29 and Backstrom third at 2.33.

Let's take a look at the three finalists


Niklas Backstrom

#32 / Goalie / Minnesota Wild

6-1

196

Feb 13, 1978



GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2008 - Niklas Backstrom 71 4088 37 24 8 3 159 2.33 2059 1900 .923 8


Steve Mason

#1 / Goalie / Columbus Blue Jackets

6-4

212

May 29, 1988



GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2008 - Steve Mason 61 3664 33 20 7 7 140 2.29 1658 1518 .916 10


Tim Thomas

#30 / Goalie / Boston Bruins

5-11

201

Apr 15, 1974



GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2008 - Tim Thomas 54 3259 36 11 7 4 114 2.10 1694 1580 .933 5

Backstrom is clearly leading in games played, but is last of the three in GAA and second in save percentage. Wins don't matter, honestly. Based upon these numbers, Tim Thomas should be the odds on favorite. But he played 17 fewer games than Backstrom, so Backstrom had the harder job this year. Of course, it also means he had a better chance to hide a bad game with a few other great ones than Thomas or Mason did.

Are there deeper analytics?

According to Mirtle, Backstrom faces the easiest shots in the NHL. Of course, the "quality shot" stat is completely dependant upon the scorekeeper.

More analytics can be found at Behind the Net.

So, who do you think should win?