And your Vezina Trophy winner is ...

This week, the NHL will announce the three finalists for each of its awards, starting with my favorite, because I am truly a frustrated Canadian goaltender in an American's body.

Brodeur, Lundqvist, Nabokov named Vezina Trophy finalists

An intriguing threesome. Keep in mind, that this only takes into account the regular season, so the fact that Lundqvist's New York Rangers outplayed Brodeur's New Jersey Devils doesn't factor into the equation.

Nominated for the eighth time in his illustrious career, Brodeur looks to win his fourth Vezina, having taken it home in 2003, 2004 and 2007.

At 36, Brodeur completed his 15th season by extending league records with his third consecutive and seventh career 40-win season. He also continued to be a workhorse with his 10th consecutive campaign of at least 70 games.

The highlight of his season, though, came Nov. 17 when he joined Patrick Roy in the 500-win club after beating a longtime rival, the Philadelphia Flyers. With his 14th win in 2008-09, Brodeur will overtake Roy as the league's all-time leader in wins. Eight more shutouts and Brodeur will surpass Terry Sawchuk's career shutout record.

"I'm definitely healthy, so we’ll see what the future will bring," Brodeur said after his 500th win. "I don't want to put a date on it or how many years."

Age doesn't seem to be a factor. Since the resumption of play in 2005 following the lockout, the total number of goals he's allowed has dropped from 187 to 171 to 168. This season may have been the most challenging with defensemen like Sheldon Brookbank, Mike Mottau and Johnny Oduya in front of him.

As great as Brodeur has been in his career, Lundqvist may have taken over as the best goaltender in the New York metropolitan area.

Lundqvist is a finalist for the third straight season, finishing third in 2006 and 2007. He tied a career high with 37 wins, set last season, and joined Philadelphia's Ron Hextall as the only goalies in NHL history with three straight 30-win campaigns.

Perhaps the most impressive part of Lundqvist's season were his league-leading 10 shutouts, the most by a Rangers goaltender in 80 years. No one since John Ross Roach in 1928-29 had reached double digits.

More impressive was Lundqvist continued to play while his father, Peter, was recovering from emergency brain surgery in December. After giving up eight goals in consecutive home losses to Anaheim and Los Angeles (!!!) in February. Lundqvist was 13-3-5 with a 1.92 goals-against average and three shutouts.

"The weird part about this year is it's been a lot of up and down, as a team and personally as well," Lundqvist told the New York Post. You think you've figured it out and then the next night you have a tougher time. The only thing you can do is keep working hard."

If Nabokov did nothing else this season, he proved to be one of the most durable as well as on the league's best.

A first-time finalist, Nabokov led the league with 46 wins - two short of Brodeur's single-season mark set in 2007 - and had 25 one-goal wins. Nabokov had started 43 straight games to open 2007-08, and 51 in a row dating back March 24, 2007.

Over a 17-start stretch from Feb. 21-April 1, Nabokov was 15-0-1 with a 1.87 GAA.

"I don't even consider him just a Vezina Trophy candidate," Darren Pang, a former goaltender and current TV commenetator, told the San Jose Mercury News. "I consider him a Hart Trophy candidate. There have been few nights that he hasn't been the difference in the hockey game."

MY PICK: Nabokov. My heart may be in my native New York City, but you cannot deny how important Nabokov has been in San Jose this season. Then there is that East Coast bias thing - the only Western Conference goalie to win the Vezina since 1994 was the Calgary Flames' Miikka Kiprusoff in 2006.

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