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Trophy Tracker

Andersen leads Rinne in race for Vezina Trophy

Maple Leafs goalie chosen over last season's winner for Predators by panel

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / Deputy Managing Editor

To mark the completion of the first quarter of the season, is running its second installment of the Trophy Tracker series this week. Today, we look at the race for the Vezina Trophy.

The Toronto Maple Leafs entered the season with aspirations of winning the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1967. They still have a long way to go to end their championship drought, but goaltender Frederik Andersen has certainly done his share thus far. 

Andersen, 29, leads the NHL with 12 wins, is tied with Jaroslav Halak of the Boston Bruins for second with a .935 save percentage and ranks fourth with a 2.13 goals-against average among goalies who have played at least 10 games.

Video: NJD@TOR: Andersen uses his pad to stuff Hall in tight

"He's been the MVP of this team," Maple Leafs forward Mitchell Marner said. "He comes every night ready to play. He expects himself to be the best every night, and that's what you want from your players, you want them to expect themselves to be the best and he hasn't been anything short of that. It's been really nice having him on this team, and he's been a special player since Day One when I got here."

A panel of 17 writers voted for the winner of the Vezina Trophy after the first quarter of the season, and the consensus was that Andersen has been the League's top goaltender thus far. Andersen received 70 points and eight first-place votes. Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, who won the award last season, finished with 62 points and seven first-place votes. 

Video: STL@NSH: Rinne makes strong stop to preserve lead

Andersen allowed three goals on 43 shots in a 5-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday but is 6-1-0 with a .957 save percentage in his past seven games.  

"When guys give me a clear lane, it's easier for me," Andersen said. "I think that's something we've been doing a great job at and something we have to continue. I keep taking steps and keep trying to get better. Hopefully it's something that keeps going the right way. I'm still pushing to get even better."

Andersen's play is one of the biggest reasons the Maple Leafs (15-7-0) are one point behind the first-place Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic Division.  

"He's been tremendous," Maple Leafs center John Tavares said. "He's been playing unbelievable. We just try to make it as easy as possible for him and not make it too stressful and obviously the more we can play in the offensive zone, we know he's going to stop the shots he faces. You can just see the confidence he has in challenging pucks and the confidence we have in him."


Voting totals (points awarded on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis): Frederik Andersen, Maple Leafs 70 points (eight first-place votes); Pekka Rinne, Predators, 62 points (seven first-place votes); Andrei Vasilevskiy, Lightning, 27 points; John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks, 22 points; Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota Wild, 20 points; Jaroslav Halak, Bruins, 18 points; Antti Raanta, Arizona Coyotes, 7 points; Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets, 7 points; Semyon Varlamov, Colorado Avalanche, 4 points; David Rittich, Calgary Flames, 4 points; Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers, 3 points; Juuse Saros, Predators, 2 points; Marc-Andre Fleury, Vegas Golden Knights, 1 point; Casey DeSmith, Pittsburgh Penguins, 1 point.  

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