For much of the 2010-11 NHL season, the question of the Vezina Trophy was not who would win, but who would finish second - that's how good Boston Bruins' goaltender Tim Thomas has been. In fact, if the season ended today, Thomas would set the all-time NHL single season record for save percentage.
As the year has worn on, however, Thomas has slightly regressed, while Nashville Predators' goaltender Pekka Rinne has steadily improved, putting up ungodly numbers that, in a normal year, would make him a shoo-in for the hardware.
We, as Predators fans, aren't particularly accustomed to following a player locked in a trophy race, but with 13 games left in the regular season, that's exactly where Pekka Rinne finds himself. After the jump, a quick look at the numbers to see just how much of a chance Rinne has of catching Tim Thomas in goals against and save percentage.
First, the two goalies' numbers on the year:
2010 - Tim Thomas
2010 - Pekka Rinne
As you can see, Rinne has played more games than Thomas, but has less wins. It's conceivable that Rinne will be able to further close the GAA gap, but unless he saves 38 out of 40 shots per game from here on out, that ridiculous save percentage Thomas has is probably unassailable.
Next, the teams' respective remaining schedules and their opponents' goals per game numbers.
Unfortunately, Nashville's remaining opponents score goals at a significantly better clip than do the Bruins (largely a part of playing in the Western Conference). Unless Thomas falls apart and Rinne turns it up to eleven, I don't see Nashville's netminder topping the NHL leaderboard in the two most important goalie stats.
What I do see, however, is Thursday's game with the Bruins being a must-watch, unless the Bruins were to inexplicably give Tuukka Rask the start.
What about you? Do you think that Pekka Rinne will move past Tim Thomas statistically, and as such, become the clubhouse leader for the trophy awarded to the NHL's best goaltender? Sound off in the poll and comments bellow.