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Braden Holtby: Sergei Bobrovsky deserves Vezina Trophy at NHL Awards

Capitals goalie praises Blue Jackets goaltender's work ethic, says 'what he's done this year is pretty special'

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS -- Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby is a finalist for the Vezina Trophy for the second year in a row after winning it last season, but he doesn't think he should win it this time.

Holtby expects Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets to win the Vezina when it is announced during the 2017 NHL Awards and NHL Expansion Draft presented by T-Mobile on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN).

"He definitely deserves it," Holtby said Tuesday. "That's my expectations and I think that's what it should be. It goes to show what kind of season he had."

 

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It would be the second time Bobrovsky has won the Vezina; he also won it in 2013. He is a finalist this year, along with Holtby and Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens. Bobrovsky, 28, is also a finalist for the Hart Trophy, along with Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers.

"I give big credit to my teammates," Bobrovsky said. "I'm here to represent them. I represent the whole team."

Bobrovsky said winning the Vezina again would be, "a great honor, but let's see what's going to happen and then talk about it."

Video: Bobrovsky, Price, Holtby: Who will win the Vezina?

Bobrovsky led the NHL with a .931 save percentage and a 2.06 goals-against average (among goalies who played at least 25 games), finished third in wins with a Blue Jackets-record 41 and tied for third in shutouts with seven. Rebounding after a tough 2015-16 season when a recurring groin injury limited him to 37 games, Bobrovsky was a big reason the Blue Jackets set team records with 50 wins and 108 points, which was good for fourth place in the League standings.

"He was the backbone of our team," said Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, a finalist for the Jack Adams Award. "We end up with 108 points. We don't have a sniff of that if we don't get the goaltending that he gave us. The prior year he was average or banged up with an injury. I think he really grabbed a hold of himself, changed his training, lost some weight and I thought had a chip on his shoulder to show people.

"I'm trying to be objective, although I'm his coach, but there's no question he was the best goaltender in the National Hockey League this year."

Holtby compared Bobrovsky's season to Price's performance in 2014-15 when he won the Vezina, the Hart and the Ted Lindsay Award. Price led the League that season with 44 wins, a .933 save percentage and a 1.96 GAA, and tied for second in shutouts with nine.

"It's not far off," Holtby said of Bobrovsky's season. "It's pretty special and I hope he gets the praise that he deserves because he put in a lot of work and us goalies around the League realize that and appreciate [that] what he's done this year is pretty special."

Price (37-20-5, 2.23 GAA, .923 save percentage) expects to be "more like a spectator" at the NHL Awards this year and said Bobrovsky and Holtby each has a good chance of winning the Vezina.

Holtby, 27, led the League with nine shutouts. His 42 wins were tied for first with Cam Talbot of the Oilers. He ranked second with a 2.07 GAA and fourth with a .925 save percentage. Holtby and Bobrovsky were the only goaltenders to rank in the top five in each category.

"They both had outstanding years," Price said. "The depth of the goaltending talent pool is really, really deep now. It seems like there's a group of seven or eight guys that always seem to be in the running for that."

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