STRAIGHT SHOOTERS

 

VEZINA PRE-SEASON

Welcome all to the 1995 NFHL season. This review will be on the backstop, which is possibly the most important position in the NFHL. At the end of last season, we had Kelly Hrudey winning the Vezina, with Kirk Mclean and John Vanbiesbrouck coming in 2nd and 3rd place. The great voters of the NFHL in fact selected the very same trio. Kelly Hrudey was 1st, Kirk McLean was 2nd, and Beezer was 3rd place. So yes, we feel good about our final projections, and how the voters would vote.

Well, this season will be a bit of a challenge. Although it should not affect goalies, some teams lost some superstars who could affect team wins, which of course helps the goalies. However, even though Hrudey lost his buddy in Peter Stastny to retirement, he still has to be a favorite here at straight shooters. His defense is one of the best, if not the best in all the NFHL. That will translate into lower shots against, and not many rebounds for the opposition. Although his .885 save percentage was low, 43 wins and 2.77 GAA is impressive.

Next up, we have to go with John Vanbiesbrouck. The only thing that maybe held him back from winning the Vezina last yr was his Coach/GM who spread the games around with him and Potvin. Only playing 45 games, to say Hrudey and McLean at 64 games was a big deciding factor. Of course, in the end, Johnny took home the SMJ Cup, and the ultimate award so it seems like it was a good idea. He led the league in save percentage with a .903 and GAA of 2.48. Beyond impressive numbers. The 28 wins was the knock. Will Detroit management focus on helping John win an individual award or is it all about team? If he gets around 60 games, look out.

Kirk McLean of course will be there once again as well. Coming off leading his team to a Wales title in the regular season, Kirk has always seemed to put up solid numbers. Last year, he stepped it up for sure. .884 save percentage (4th), 2.89 GAA (3rd) and 39 win s(3rd). New Jersey will feel pressure from Philadelphia and Florida this season, and for them to win the Patrick again, it will be on McLean’s back.

Dominik Hasek. Let’s face it, he has been perhaps the best goalie for the past 4-5 seasons in the NFHL, if not top 3. Last year was very trying for him, with some management changes. Well, this season he will have a steady GM at the helm, and although his best buddy Glenn Anderson had enough, if there is a goalie that can win teams games on his own, its this man. Last year his .873 save percentage was his lowest since 1985, his first full season as a starter. Do not be shocked if this man does not push for the Vezina.

We always try to find a long shot in the mix, and this year we will go with Martin Brodeur in Minnesota. While still young, and the future of the league, he is on a team that is full of discipline and does not hurt itself. The team plays solid D and is great depth. He might not be ready yet to steal games for his team, but because of the team in front of him, his life will be easier, and he will not be asked to stand on his head. He will win Vezina’s in the NFHL, is 1995 to early still?

So, who are we taking at Straight Shooters as the early favorite? Kelly Hrudey will squeak out another victory, but a close one over Hasek and McLean. We really do like Vanbiesbrouck, but just feel Detroit will run them roughly 50-50 split with the tandem. Hasek has a lot to prove after last season performance, but in the end, Hrudey will be able to put up some staggering numbers, thanks in part to his defense in front of him.

1.             Kelly Hrudey

2.             Dominik Hasek

3.             Kirk McLean

4.             John Vanbiesbrouck

5.             Martin Broduer

6.             Mike Moffat

7.             Allen Bester

8.             Tom Barasso

9.             Sean Burke

10.         Curtis Joseph

STRAIGHT SHOOTERS