Miikka Kiprusoff’s great-year-wasted just got a little worse. After spending six months being let down by his under-achieving teammates, now Kipper finds out their indifferent play in front of him not only cost him a trip to the playoffs, but a Vezina nomination, too.
The NHL announced its three finalists for the Vezina Trophy yesterday – and Kipper wasn’t among them. The voters cast their nods in the direction of Martin Brodeur, Ryan Miller and Ilya Bryzgalov.
We won’t know until after the NHL hands out its awards in June just where Miikka ranked in the voting, but given the Vezina-worthy season he just completed, it’s a good bet he was in the top five. And it’s also a safe bet that some voters bumped him down their list because – playing on a team that had the fifth-best goals-against average in the entire league, yet somehow still scored fewer goals than it allowed – he didn’t get to the post-season.
Looking at the numbers, Kiprusoff’s GAA and save percentage were almost identical to Bryzgalov’s, and he carried a heavier workload. His save percentage was considerably better than Brodeur’s. The only category where he significantly trailed the three nominees was in wins – something that was hardly his fault.
(Fun with stats: 15 times during the season, Kiprusoff allowed two or fewer goals (not including shootouts) and the Flames still lost.)
Let’s face it, a lot of voters put a player’s stats in the context of his team’s success when it comes time to hand out the silverware. Bryzgalov led his team out of the wilderness and into the playoffs for the first time in years. Kipper’s heroics were wasted on an also-ran. Those are the hard facts, and they surely cost Kipper.
I’m attempting to find out what sort of bonus Kipper has in his contract for being a Vezina finalist. Whatever the figure, his teammates should pass around the helmet and chip in to make up for it (the Sutter brothers, too), because it’s their fault he won’t be collecting a bonus his play richly deserved. Otherwise, the Flames indisputable MVP in this lost season should sue them all for lack of support.
He deserved much, much better this season, and the Vezina voting merely puts an exclamation mark on that shameful fact.