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Predators' Rinne favorite to win Vezina Trophy

by Brian Compton / NHL.com

With the first half of the 2014-15 season complete, NHL.com looks at some of its biggest storylines and award contenders.

Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne was NHL.com's choice to win the Vezina Trophy at the quarter pole. He had 14 wins in 18 decisions, a 1.97 goals-against average and .927 save percentage.

Rinne continues to be the top goalie in the League midway through the 2014-15 season, though he is expected to miss the next 3-5 weeks with a sprained knee sustained Tuesday in a win against the Vancouver Canucks.

The 32-year-old leads the NHL with 29 victories, five more than Anaheim Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen. Rinne is also tops in GAA (1.96) and is tied for second in save percentage (.931) with Michael Hutchinson (Winnipeg Jets) behind Calvin Pickard (Colorado Avalanche). Pickard and Hutchinson have a combined 29 starts between them; Rinne has started 37 games.

Rinne, who missed more than half of last season because of a hip injury, was named to the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game last Saturday. It was Rinne's first All-Star Game selection, and he would have been the first Predators goalie to appear at the event since Tomas Vokoun in 2004, but he was replaced on the roster because of his injury.

"One of the things that has impressed me most is his work ethic," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette told the Predators website. "In practice and in games, he never quits on anything.

"He never quits on the puck in practice. He never stops trying. He almost slows down the drills sometimes, because someone is ready to come in and take the shot, and he's not done with the first one because he won't quit on it. It's such a valuable trait for an athlete, and most certainly for a goaltender, to always fight for the last inch out there, and that's what he does."

FINALISTS

Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins -- A finalist at the quarter-pole, Fleury continues to quietly perform for the Penguins in what has become a heated race in the Metropolitan Division. Through 34 starts, the 30-year-old was 22-7-4 with a 2.16 GAA and .926 save percentage. Fleury leads the NHL with six shutouts and was named to the All-Star Game on Thursday as an injury replacement.

"There's been a few guys missing for parts of time, so I just tried to do whatever I could to help out the team," Fleury told the Penguins website. "I'm getting older, so I have a little more experience, a little more calm, I think. So I guess that's been helping."

Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens -- Price was named to the All-Star Game (he'll be the lone representative for Montreal) for a fourth time last weekend, and it's easy to see why; in 35 starts, the 27-year-old is 23-10-2 with a 2.19 GAA and .927 save percentage.

"It's always a fun experience," Price said of his latest All-Star selection, according to The Canadian Press. "It's definitely an honor to go and represent my team. I'm looking forward to it. It should be a really good time."

Also in the mix: Frederik Andersen, Anaheim Ducks; Jaroslav Halak, New York Islanders; Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals

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