Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Races To Watch Down The Stretch

This might be the best way to decide who will win the 2013 Vezina Trophy
We're entering the final stretch of the 2013 NHL season and everything is heating up. Between playoff races in both conferences and scoring races wide open, it's going to be a fun finish to the shortened season. In all that hype, there's five races we'll be keeping a close eye on as the season comes to a close: the Art Ross Trophy race, the Maurice Richard Trophy race, the Southeast Division race, the race for best odds in the 2013 NHL Draft Lottery, and the Vezina Trophy Race. They're all super tight right now and we're excited to see how they finish.

Take a closer look at how the races are shaping up:

Art Ross Race

This one will be fun as the rest of the field plays catch-up with Sidney Crosby while he sits out with a broken jaw. When Crosby went down after taking a puck to the face he had a 10-point cushion on Steven Stamkos for the scoring lead, but now the competition is catching up. St. Louis and Stamkos pretty much get points together so expect them to keep pace. Kane has been pretty dominant on season for the Hawks, but he'll need to step it up if he wants to challenge. Kunitz doesn't have Sid so count him out. Ovechkin has been going ham so if he keeps his pace up he has a solid chance. And then there's always the chance Crosby returns with a few games left in the season and wins.

Maurice Richard Trophy Race

This looked to be all Stamkos from the beginning, but Ovechkin has charged to the top to tie him for the league lead with 17 goals in his last 15 games. The way those two are going it looks to be a two-horse race, but don't forget about the other Southeast scoring machine, John Tavares. He'd like to taste some postseason later this month and has 7 goals in his past 11 games. Then there's Jeff Carter who's going for the Cy Young this year with 23 goals and 5 assists. He's been scoring in streaks throughout the season and is currently riding one that has seen him scoring 5 goals in 7 games. This should be a tight one to the finish.

Race To The Bottom

Colorado are already planning their end of season trip to Las Vegas with a 1-8-1 record in their last 10 games. Florida evidently doesn't know how to tank and have been stringing together wins over the past 10 games to pull themselves out of the basement. Calgary had a firesale at the trade deadline and have dropped 4 games since then allowing 25 goals in those losses. Carolina has been sinking line a stone since leading the Southeast Division for most of the season. They've been the best tankers this season going 1-9-0 in their past 10. Expect those four teams to have the highest percentage of nabbing the first overall pick in June.

Southeast Division Race

This race is only important because it's very likely that only one team from the Southleast will be making the playoffs this year. Tampa has the potential to make it interest with games in hand, but this should be down to the wire between Washington and Winnipeg. The Jets had a 6-point lead in the division just two weeks ago, but have now found themselves sitting in 9th with only 7 games left in the season. They control their own destiny and will need to have a big finish before an April 23rd matchup against the Capitals. The Caps have been surging and have a pretty favourable schedule down the stretch; the Southeast is theirs to lose.

Vezina Trophy Race

It's a pretty close race for the Vezina and this could easily be won by a goalie stringing a few shutouts together in the last few weeks. Tuukka Rask is tied for tops in save percentage and has the best GAA of goaltenders with 25+ games played with a sparkling 1.95. Cory Schneider is tied with Rask with a .928 save percentage and his 2.06 GAA gives him some credit as well as his league leading 5 shutouts. Last year's Vezina Trophy winner, Henrik Lundqvist, is lurking in the weeds as the Rangers fight for the 8th spot in the East and he's quietly put up some solid stats with a .926 save percentage and a 2.12 GAA. Sergei Bobrovsky is the wild card here, if he can get his Columbus Blue Jackets into the playoffs his .927 save percentage and 2.12 GAA he could get some well deserved votes. Antti Niemi was our Vezina pick at the halfway mark of the season and his numbers remain solid at a 2.13 GAA and .924 SV%. Throw in 3 shutouts and 19 wins and he's got the stats to back up a nomination. 

4 comments:

  1. Rask gets my vote for Venzina
    Flames for the Lottery
    Stamkos for the Hart
    Ovie for the Rocket

    ReplyDelete
  2. Just a note on the Richard piece. Tavares plays for NYI, and as much as they would love to be in the SE division, sadly they play in the Atlantic.

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