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SportsVezina Trophy Power Rankings: Vasilevskiy making it look easy

19:07  28 february  2019
19:07  28 february  2019 Source:   thescore.com

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Vezina Trophy Power Rankings: Vasilevskiy making it look easy© Jamie Sabau / National Hockey League / Getty

This is the fifth edition of theScore's Vezina Trophy Power Rankings. With just over five weeks remaining on the NHL schedule, we take a closer look at a group of candidates who are closing in on capturing this year's award.

5. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens

Vezina Trophy Power Rankings: Vasilevskiy making it look easy© Provided by Score Media Ventures INC (Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty)

Price has backstopped a once-overlooked Canadiens team into playoff contention. It hasn't been his finest season, on paper, but the 31-year-old has carried a heavy load, as his 48 starts and 26 victories rank first and third, respectively, among Eastern Conference goaltenders.

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The veteran netminder made his mark in mid-January when he led Montreal to a seven-game winning streak, during which he conceded just 10 goals. Despite the 3-5-1 record over his last nine contests, Price has given his team a chance every night, allowing two goals or fewer in five of those games.

Since the new year, Price boasts a save percentage of .936 and a goals-against average of 2.04. Throw out an ugly month of November, and he's been one the best goalies in the league this season.

4. Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins

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The Bruins are one of many teams to adopt the platoon system in goal this season. Unfortunately, for the duo of Rask and Jaroslav Halak, the split crease time could decrease either's chance to capture the Vezina. No goaltender has won the trophy while playing fewer than 50 games - in a full season - since 1988-89, and neither is on pace to hit that mark.

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But how could we not recognize a netminder who hasn't suffered a regulation loss for over two months? Since Dec. 23, Rask has posted a mark of 12-1-3 and helped launch the Bruins up the standings and into second place in the Eastern Conference.

With a 2.25 goals-against average and .925 save percentage over that span, he's been lights out for a Boston team that keeps on winning.

3. Frederik Andersen, Toronto Maple Leafs

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For a team that's loaded with star power, it's Andersen who often shines the brightest. In his third season with the Leafs, perhaps the best of his young career, the 29-year-old became the fastest in team history to reach 100 total wins.

Andersen has thrived under pressure, posting a record of 8-1-1 when facing 40-plus shots in a game. He's faced the third-most shots this season and has responded with a save percentage of .923.

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He shares the league lead in wins with 30 and hasn't dropped back-to-back games in regulation since November. Andersen has gone 8-2-2 with a .922 save percentage in February and looks poised to carry his terrific play into the postseason.

2. Robin Lehner, New York Islanders

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Lehner may have been forced from our top spot, but the Islanders netminder remains one of the favorites to capture the Vezina. Splitting time with Thomas Greiss this season has limited him to 33 starts, but it's hard to deny the raw numbers, even with a lighter workload.

Lehner has gone 14-4-2 with three shutouts over his last 20 contests, conceding just 35 goals to help the Islanders remain atop the Metropolitan Division.

The Swede leads the league with a 2.10 goals-against average and shares the No. 1 spot with a .930 save percentage. The Islanders rank 22nd in team scoring with 2.84 goals-per-game, which further demonstrates Lehner's invaluable contributions. History may not be on his side - in regard to the split workload - but when it comes to crowning this season's top goalie, the 27-year-old must be considered.

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1. Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning

Vezina Trophy Power Rankings: Vasilevskiy making it look easy© Provided by Score Media Ventures INC (Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images Sport / Getty)

Vasilevskiy may be playing behind a historically great Lightning team, but he still has to stop the puck. With a record of 9-0-2 in February, the goaltender has made it look easy by allowing just 18 goals over those 11 games.

The Russian is tied for second in the NHL with 29 wins and shares the lead in save percentage with a mark of .930. His 2.28 goals-against average is second only to Lehner among netminders with at least 32 appearances, though Vasilevskiy has started seven more games.

The 6-foot-4 puck-stopper has been a model of consistency this season, as he has not lost back-to-back games in regulation all year. His only two-game slide came earlier this month with both games going to extra time. It's going to be hard to slow down Vasilevskiy and the Lightning, and if he can continue his dominant play, the 24-year-old could claim his first career Vezina Trophy.

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