Jun 20, 2012, 9:04 PM EST
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.”This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
- Lightning ride Paquette’s first hat trick to Atlantic lead 4
- Price wins goalie duel vs. Lundqvist as Habs edge Rangers 2
- Leafs’ luck: Bernier gives up long distance goal, things unravel in third 15
- AHL announces new Pacific Division — who could go west next? 33
- Babcock didn’t think Wings would be ‘near where we’re at’ 15
- Brodeur announces retirement, leaves ‘the game with a big smile on my face’ 15
- NHL on NBCSN: Sharks’ ‘dog fight’ continues vs. red hot Ducks 4
- NHL on NBCSN: Rangers, Canadiens seek edge as divisional battles intensify 2
- Struggling Kings complete the comeback against Blackhawks 11
- Video: Tempers boil over between Capitals, Penguins 46