The NHL defines the Vezina Trophy as "an annual award given to the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at this position".
Does Jimmy Howard fit this bill?
During a normal year many people would say no. Either Quick, Lundqvist, or Rinne would have probably played good enough to earn the trophy. But this year has been different. None of the aforementioned have had consistent success in the net and the trophy is ripe for the taking.
Here is why I think that Jimmy Howard has a legitimate shot at the Vezina.
First, there is no obvious front runner for the trophy right now. If you look purely at stats, Craig Anderson should just be handed the trophy. But, Anderson has played in too few games in comparison to Howard and other goaltenders. He has only played 18 games compared to Howard's 36.
The second reason is that Jimmy Howard is consistent. While he is not top-10 in either GAA or SV% he consistently posts good numbers. Howard currently has a .920 SV% and a 2.31 GAA. Both are respectable numbers.
While some may look at that GAA and automatically reject Howard as a candidate, one has to remember what the Wings defense currently is comprised of. No more Lidstrom, no more Stuart, no more Rafalski and a boatload of injuries.
Also, some of the notable goaltenders behind him in the SV% category include Pekka Rinne, Marc-Andre Fleury, Ryan Miller and Jonathan Quick. Those are some pretty big names.
The final reason why Howard has a chance at winning the trophy deviates a little from the NHL's definition of the Vezina.
Jimmy Howard IS the reason why the Wings are still in contention for a playoff spot. This isn't something that can be measured and compared. I don't care how good Zetterberg and Datsyuk have been, take Howard out of the equation and the Wings are fighting with Colorado for 14th in the West.
And by that I don't mean any disrespect towards Jonas Gustavsson. But I think anyone who watches the Wings can agree with me, Jimmy Howard is special.
Like I said, while this isn't something that can be measured, this is something that should be taken into consideration.
Jimmy Howard isn't the best at anything. But he is mighty good at what he does.
Oh and by the way, I think his new contract is a great one, but that is for another day.
Let me know what you guys think, does Jimmy have a shot at the Vezina or am I totally wrong?
Remember, the Wings haven't had a Vezina winner since Terry Sawchuk won it in 1955!