One of the hallmarks of winning any sort of individual hardware in the NHL is usually performing consistently throughout the season.
When it comes to awarding the Vezina Trophy, the choice seems fairly obvious. There are plenty of goaltenders who have put together strong runs of several weeks or even a month or two at a time. Only one of them, however, has been at or near the top in all the important statistical categories since the opening month of the season.
A quarter of the season still remains where the order could change, but here's NHL.com's take on the goaltenders most worthy of being nominated to this point:
Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins --
He's bidding to go wire-to-wire as our Vezina selection, and for excellent reasons -- namely that Thomas continues to lead the League in goals-against average at 1.99 and save percentage with a .939 clip, while also boasting seven shutouts, tied for most in the NHL. He's also tied for fourth in wins with 27, despite the fact his 43 games played only rank 15th among goaltenders. The Bruins, who have a more-than-capable young backup in Tuukka Rask
, are being mindful not to overwork Thomas, who turns 37 in April, and he's rewarding them by playing some of the best hockey of his career.
Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks --
There are plenty of reasons why the Canucks have led the Presidents' Trophy race for a significant portion of the season. If he's not the biggest reason, then Luongo must be near the top of the list. Despite injuries that have decimated the defense corps in front of him at times, Luongo enjoyed a two-month, 21-game run without a regulation loss (16-0-5). His 28 wins are tied for second in the League, while his .924 save percentage is fifth and represents the second-best of his career. His 2.27 goals-against average would be the lowest of his career.
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens --
While he ranks outside the top 10 in categories like goals-against average and save percentage, Price has been an absolute workhorse for Montreal and has kept the Canadiens in games even when they haven't played their best. Price had appeared in 54 of the team's 61 games entering Thursday -- tops in the League, as are his minutes played (3,214). He's second in shots against (1,604) and saves (1,475) and tied for second with 28 wins. He went head-to-head with Luongo on Feb. 22 and led the Canadiens to a crucial victory with a 37-save effort, typical of his play this season.