First of all I'd like to make a couple unrelated notes:
1. Shoutout to EliasStillRocks and JeremyatScope for their articles within the last week about Joseph Blandisi. This kid may just be a buoy. But you can't rule the prospect of him being the long-term answer as forward #6.
2. Couple that with the surprising production of Reid Boucher and we finally have a lineup that I can confidently say is a good NHL lineup. The top 6 are all legitimate. The 3rd line of Boucher, Sergey Kalinin, and Jacob Josefson is a legitimate line capable of speed and secondary scoring. The 4th line of Tootoo, Ruutu, and Gionta (cycle in Farnham) is a great checking line with veteran energy guys.
Okay, now on to the topic of Cory Schneider and the Vezina Trophy. I will answer 4 questions about this topic.
1. Can he win if the Devils miss the postseason?
2. Do his stats say "Vezina"?
3. Does he deserve to win?
4. Will he win?
To answer these questions, I will use this chart created from NHL historical data collected from Hockey-Reference.
So let's break down the questions.
Can He Win if the Devils Miss the Playoffs?
For this, we look at historical data on team quality.
It's very unlikely. The only goalie since the Vezina trophy became vote-based to win despite not making the playoffs was Sergei Bobrovsky and in that year the Blue Jackets were left out on a tiebreaker with the Wild. They also had the same amount of points as the Islanders, who made it in the East. Point being -- they were basically a playoff team left out on a technicality. As you can see by the history, a few teams have made it in barely -- 7 winners were on teams that placed 4th in the division. At the very least, we need to be REALLLLLLY close.
Do His Stats Say "Vezina"?
For this, we look at where he is in relation to prior winners.
He is currently 6th in GAA which hurts him as only 2 winning goalies ranked lower since 1981. That should regress as guys like John Gibson and Connor Hellebuyck come back down to earth. Of the 33 winners listed, 20 finished in the top 3 in GAA so thats the mark to hit. He's 7th in SvPct and 22 of the 33 winners were in the top 3 there. However, Martin Brodeur ranked lower in 3 of his trophy-years. The most predictive stat is GPS (goalie point shares -- a stat defined by Hockey Reference). 22 of the 33 winners finished in the top 2 in the stat. Schneider is currently 2nd. His extrapolated stats would rank him 14th out of the 34 (including him) winners in GPS. He'd also rank 8th in GAA and 13th in SvPct. This performance is also consistent with his stats last year. His surface stats might need to get a little better, but clearly his line would not be out of place among Vezina Winners.
Does He Deserve to Win?
For this, we look at his relation to current players.
He definitely deserves to be in the conversation. Last year he was, by most metrics, the second best goalie in the league yet got no Vezina votes. As in zero -- the number. That should change this year. He is in the top 3 in my opinion. His current competition is with Corey Crawford and Braden Holtby (more on them later). His top two competitors are Crawford and Holtby. Guys like Lundqvist and Luongo have the skill and the reverence to make a run if they get hot, and Petr Mrazek could get in the conversation if the Red Wings finally give him the keys the rest of the way. But, for now, it's these 3 guys.
For all the flack Crawford gets for being along for the ride in his Cups, he and Patrick Kane are THE reasons the Blackhawks are what they are this season. Duncan Keith is having another fine year but he was injured early and Crawford is turning in a truly elite season. He is 1st in GPS, 1st in shutouts, 4th in SvPct, and 11th in GAA.
That being said, Braden Holtby is probably the favorite, ranking 4th in SvPct, 6th in GAA, and 3rd in GPS. He's also got 30 wins already. The Caps are 5-3-1 without him and 30-5-2 with him.
Will He Win?
For this, we look at the current players and historical data.
19 of the 33 winners were on 100-point teams. 18 were on teams that won their divisions. 21 were on teams that won a playoff series. 22 had 35 wins. These stats imply that the goalie is most often the goalie of an elite team. This clearly favors Holtby and Crawford.
Should Cory win? Will he win? What do you think of the historical data? Were you pissed at how low Marty's stats fall in relation to other winners? Were you impressed at Hasek's complete and utter dominance? What do you think are the most important aspects of a Vezina Trophy Winner? Leave your thoughts below.