Halfway through the 2010-11 season, it's looking like not only will there be a new Vezina Trophy winner, but three different candidates from which to choose.
Last season's winner, Buffalo's Ryan Miller, is among the NHL leaders with 30 games played, but was 15th in wins, 27th in save percentage and 28th in goals-against average entering Wednesday. One of the runners up, New Jersey's Martin Brodeur, is dealing with the worst statistical season of his illustrious career, while the other one, Ilya Bryzgalov of Phoenix, is in similar territory as Miller -- not a poor season by any means, but hardly Vezina-worthy at this juncture.
There's still over three months of regular-season action remaining to determine who takes home the hardware, but here's NHL.com's take on the goaltenders most worthy of the nod right now:
Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins -- The seven-year veteran was our choice at the quarter pole, and in the time since Thomas has done little to suggest he doesn't deserve to capture his second Vezina in three seasons. He ranks in the top five among goalies with 18 wins, leads the League in GAA (1.80) and save percentage (.945) and shares the lead with 5 shutouts. Thomas has only lost four games in regulation all season, while being at the forefront of the Bruins' ascension into first place in the Northeast Division.
Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings -- Building off a franchise-record 39-win season, Quick is on pace to challenge that number again despite playing in fewer games, and his current GAA (2.09 -- second in the League) and save percentage (.922 -- seventh) are both significantly better than the 2.54 and .907 he posted last season. Quick's four shutouts are just one off the League lead and his 18 wins are two off the mark.
Ondrej Pavelec, Atlanta Thrashers -- The 23-year-old Pavelec missed almost the entire month of October after a fainting spell caused him to collapse on the ice and suffer a concussion during the season opener, but once he returned to the lineup and claimed the No. 1 goaltending job, the Thrashers have put themselves in the running in the Southeast Division. Pavelec is second in the League in save percentage (.936) and fourth in GAA (2.14), and put together a streak of eight consecutive starts allowing two goals or fewer at one point.