Trophy Tracker: Ullmark remains leader for Vezina as best goalie

To mark the nine months of the 2022-23 regular season, is hosting the fourth edition of the Trophy Tracker series. Today we look at the race for the Vezina TrophyAwarded annually to the goaltender voted best in the league by the NHL General Managers.

It’s been an enchanting season for Linus Ullmark at the Boston Bruins. Not only is he the pick for the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s top goaltender, but he’s also a goalscorer.

Ullmark became the 13th different goalie to score in the NHL and the eighth by shooting at an empty goal to complete a 3-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks on February 25. He’s even been dubbed “our goalscorer-goalkeeper.” by Bruins coach Jim Montgomery in a recent press conference.

But it’s not Ullmark’s ability to score goals that put him at the top of the list of Vezina candidates, according to an poll of 15 writers. It’s the success he’s had online. Ullmark received 75 points, including all 15 first place finishers. Connor Hellebuyck the Winnipeg Jets finished second at 50, and Jake Oettinger the Dallas Stars (38) in third place.

“I’m running out of stuff to say about him,” Boston defense attorney Charlie McAvoy said after Ullmark made a career-high 54 saves in a 4-3 win over the Calgary Flames on Feb. 28. “It’s just incredible. I feel very lucky to play in front of him.”

The 29-year-old has found a home and comfort zone in his second season with the Bruins, by far his best in the NHL. He is 32-4-1 with an average of 1.89 goals against and a save of .938, each of which is the best among goalies who have started at least 25 games.

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Video: BOS@VAN: Ullmark finds the back of the net in 3rd place

Boston (49-8-5) leads the NHL with 103 points and is enjoying a 10-game winning streak at TD Garden against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET; ESPN+, HULU, SN, TVAS). And it seems that Ullmark is getting stronger and stronger; he was called the Third NHL Star of the Month for February after a 6-0-0 with a 1.79 GAA and a .947 save rate as the race for the Stanley Cup Playoffs heated up.

“He was upside down,” Bruins continued David Pastrnak called. “He’s played amazing. It’s fun to watch him honestly this year. He’s playing with confidence. He’s tall. He’s very confident on the net. He’s having a special year.”

Ullmark had three solid seasons with the Buffalo Sabers before signing as a free agent with Boston on July 28, 2021 and then jumping in his freshman season while forming a tandem with Jeremy Swayman26-10-2 with a 2.45 GAA and .917 save percentage in 41 games (39 starts).

But nothing like what he’s doing this season.

“It’s so great to see the success he’s had,” Swayman said. “He puts the work into it. And it’s good to see people putting in the work and getting rewarded for it. I think he also knows that his work is not done yet.”

Voting results (points are awarded on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis): Linus Ullmark, Bruins, 75 points (15 first place votes); Connor Hellebuyck, Jets, 50; Jake Oettinger, Stars, 38; Ilya SorokinNew York Islander, 25; Andrei VasilyevskyTampa Bay Lightning, 22; Alexander GeorgievColorado Avalanche, 5; Igor ShesterkinNew York Rangers, 5; Juuse SarosNashville predators, 3; Vitek VanecekNew Jersey Devils, 2.

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