In recognition of a week in which he shut out the Calgary Flames, allowed only one goal to the Minnesota Wild and stoned both shooters he faced during a shootout against the Philadelphia Flyers, Nashville Predators goaltender Tomas Vokoun has been named NHL Defensive Player of the Week for the period ending December 4.
"You know what Tomas is?" Predators head coach Barry Trotz asked rhetorically after Saturday's win over the Flyers. "He's an eraser. He erases every mistake we make. We've got one of the best in the league. He makes us look real good sometimes."
Vokoun's three consecutive victories last week boosted his win total to 15, which leads all NHL goaltenders. He recorded a 1.30 goals-against average and .952 save percentage over the three games, stopping a combined 80 of 84 shots he faced.
"It's a nice thing and I'm happy," Vokoun said Monday, allowing a smile to sweep across his face briefly. "But look at the standings--[that's] a lot more appealing for me than getting personal awards."
For the season, he has posted a 15-4-2 record, a 2.40 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage in 21 games. It's the second time in his career that he's been given the honor--the first was for the week of Nov. 24-30, 2003--and it marks the second "player of the week" designation for a Predator this season. Forward Steve Sullivan was selected as NHL Offensive Player of the Week in mid-October.
"I think that's the emergence of our hockey club," Trotz said Monday after learning of Vokoun's selection. "There's no question Tomas deserved to get recognized as the top defensive player of the week. That's a great honor. He had a great week, and he's a big part of our hockey club. I think that's part and parcel of, obviously, our success. It's not all of our success, but he's a big part of it, no question."
"Defense obviously starts with him," Predators blueliner Mark Eaton said. "When things have broken down, he's always been there to save us. Well-deserved for him, and I'm sure it won't be the last."