Is the Vezina Race Pekka Rinne's to Lose?

Pekka Rinne has dominated for the Predators. Can any other goalie catch him for the Vezina?

Now that the All-Star Break is over, we can focus on real hockey games, and not the kind that has a score reminiscent to a Ravens-Steelers matchup.

Goaltenders will especially be thankful to have a week’s worth of rest under their pads to prepare for what should be an exciting second half of the NHL season.

The first half of the season saw Nashville’s Pekka Rinne running away with what appeared to be his first Vezina Trophy. Rinne was a bridesmaid to the Vezina dance in 2011 and 2012, but was hampered by injuries last year which limited the Finnish netminder to only 24 games.

Unfortunately, the hockey gods had other plans, as Rinne suffered a knee injury on January 13th, which is expected to keep him out of the Predators’ lineup for three to five weeks. The injury came at the worst time, as the Preds’ had earned 21 out of a possible 22 points in Rinne’s previous 10 contests, plus the game in which he was injured.

Since Rinne is on the shelf for the next few weeks, I thought it would be a good time to look at the two goalies breathing down Rinne's neck.

Carey Price

Carey Price has bounced back tremendously after suffering a season-ending injury in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals. Price has amassed a tremendous 25-10-2 record with a 2.15 Goals Against Average (GAA) and a .929 Save Percentage (SV%) while leading the Canadiens to the third-best mark in the Atlantic Division through January 27th.

Looking deeper into the numbers, Price is currently fourth in the league with 21 Quality Starts (QS), eighth in minutes played (2,209) and fourth in five-on-five save percentage while leading (5v5 SV% Leading). This last stat, 5v5 SV% Leading, is intriguing in showing that Price has been able to secure leads for a Montreal team that ranks 20th in the league with only 126 goals for.

Frederik Andersen

Frederik Andersen may not be a household name to many, but the 25-year-old Dane is quickly becoming one. Through 39 games played, Andersen is sporting a cool 27-6-5 record while securing a staggering 24 quality starts (second behind Rinne).

Andersen broke into the NHL last season and finished with an impressive 20-5-0 mark with a dazzling .923 SV% and 2.29 GAA. Andersen ended up splitting time with Jonas Hiller and fellow rookie John Gibson. Even with Hiller heading north to Calgary this off season, Andersen was still not secured a full time starting gig with the presence of Gibson on the Anaheim bench.

Andersen came on strong winning seven of his first eight starts while Gibson was sent to the AHL for conditioning early in the season. Looking deeper in to the numbers, Andersen is currently second in wins (27), seventh in GAA (2.24) and third in total minutes (2,300).

While Andersen and Price both have strong cases to push Rinne off the throne, it is still Rinne’s race to lose. The table below compares should help clarify why Rinne is still the favorite to win the 2015 Vezina.

StartsWinsSV%GAAMinutesQS5v5 Sv% Leading4v5 Sv%