To the surprise of no one (hence the sarcastic title), the National Hockey League has announced that New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has been named a finalist for the 2011-12 Vezina Trophy, which is awarded to the League's best goaltender during the regular season. This is the fourth time in Lundqvist's seven-year career that he has been named a finalist for the honor, but he has yet to actually win the trophy in any of the previous years. There's a strong indication that this will be the year for King Henrik, though.
Along with Lundqvist as the top three goalies in the NHL this year are Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators and Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings. Here's a little statistical comparison for you...
Henrik Lundqvist, NYR: 62 starts, 39-18-5, 1.97 GAA, .930 save percentage, 8 shutouts
Pekka Rinne, NSH: 72 starts, 43-18-8, 2.39 GAA, .923 save percentage, 5 shutouts
Jonathan Quick, LAK: 69 starts, 35-21-13, 1.95 GAA, .929 save percentage, 10 shutouts
Out of the three finalists, it's going to come down to Lundqvist and Quick for sure. Both were outstanding this season and are the main reason their clubs are in the playoffs at the moment. Lundqvist, being a goaltender in the Eastern Conference, gets more attention and publicity than Quick does, so that could certainly favor the Swedish netminder. So can the fact that Hank led his team to the regular season Conference and Division titles as well.
My gut tells me Lundqvist wins it. He's long overdue.
* Tomorrow's Game 7 between the Rangers and Senators at Madison Square Garden has been scheduled for 7 p.m.