Sports Outside the Beltway

Niklas Backstrom, Steve Mason, and Tim Thomas named Viezina Finalists

That’s the trophy given to the best goalie in hockey for an individual season. From AP-

Niklas Backstrom of the Minnesota Wild, Steve Mason of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins are the finalists for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender.

The league announced the finalists Monday. The winner, voted by general managers around the league, will be revealed June 18 at the NHL awards show in Las Vegas.

Mason, a rookie, posted a franchise-record three straight shutouts in December and helped the Blue Jackets reach the playoffs for the first time. Thomas led the NHL with a 2.10 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage for the Eastern Conference-leading Bruins.

Backstrom appeared in 71 games for Minnesota and ranked among the top five goaltenders in goals-against average, save percentage and shutouts. His 37 wins were a franchise record, and after playing in his first All-Star game he received a four-year, $24 million contract extension that will begin next season.

Here are the regular season stat lines for each goalie. Note only Thomas is still playing in the ongoing NHL playoffs for 2008-09.

Thomas- Games Played 54 Wins 36 Losses 11 Overtime Loses 7 Goals allowed 114
Shutouts 5 Goals against average 2.10 Save Pct .933

Backstrom- 71 37 24 8 159 8 2.33 .923
Mason- 61 33 20 7 140 10 2.29 .916

Sentimentally I’d vote for the rookie Mason, but Thomas clearly has the best stats of the three nominees.

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