While NHL teams battle for Stanley Cup Playoff positioning, the men in the bulky gear and bulbous masks are also amid a race of their own -- for the Vezina Trophy.
To win it means more than just bragging rights as the regular season's best goalie -- and perhaps leverage in their next contract negotiation. Since a dominant goalie can carry a team deep into the playoffs, the Vezina race is the League's must-watch subplot because the team whose goalie ends up winning the award almost certainly will have an edge in its Cup quest.
The big V is voted on by the League's 30 general managers, who, at the end of the season, fill in a ballot with their three top picks, in order of ranking, for the goalie who is deemed "the best at this position."
In other words, not the lowest GAA or the lowest save percentage or fewest goals-against (that's the Jennings Trophy) or the most wins. Simply, the best.