Jun 20, 2012, 9:04 PM EDT
New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has been a superstar for years, but it took him seven seasons, including three previous nominations, to win the Vezina Trophy for the first time.
The award goes to the league’s best goaltender and that’s a particularly impressive distinction to earn this season. The NHL featured quite a few standout contenders in 2011-12, including fellow nominees Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings and Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators.
Lundqvist had a 1.97 GAA and .930 save percentage in 62 starts, which is almost identical to the 1.95 GAA and .929 save percentage Quick had in 69 games. Still, the NHL General Managers’ voting was not even close.
Lundqvist got 120 points to Quick’s 63. Rinne was a distant third with 42 points and Phoenix’s Mike Smith finished fourth with 35.
The Rangers goalie took his on-stage profanity in stride, joking that he – and the show’s producers – appreciated the delay. Like many other players, Lundqvist seemed taken aback by winning the award.
“I’m so happy right now; it means a lot to win,” Lundqvist said. “Like I said on stage, to be on that list with a couple of my heroes – with Patrick (Roy), Dominik (Hasek) and Marty (Brodeur) – it feels good. It’s been a goal and a dream of mine for a long time.”
One interesting note is that Lundqvist carried a lighter load this season compared to previous ones. He played 62 games this season after ranging between 68 and 73 during the last five. Lundqvist admitted the rest made a difference.
“It helped a lot,” Lundqvist said. “I could practice harder and push myself … Going into the playoffs with a lot of energy definitely helped.”
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