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Vezina Candidate Being Outplayed By Conn Smythe Favorite

Hellebuyck had no chance on this one, but the other two… (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Like all sports, NHL award voting takes place before the postseason begins. This season, both the Vegas Golden Knights and Winnipeg Jets have several award nominees. One of which is Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, who was nominated for the Vezina trophy along with Eastern Conference finalist Andrei Vasilevskiy, and amateur golfer Pekka Rinne.

Over four games against Vegas, the Vezina nominee has allowed 11 goals and has lost three straight conference final games. Not the trait of a goaltender of the year candidate. Neither is this.

It’s a great effort by Reilly Smith, that’s clear, however Hellenuyck has to have this one. Dustin Byfuglien misses his mark, Smith jumps on the puck and streaks for the net. Hellebuyck had a clear view of Smith’s approach tracking the puck immediately after the turnover. He had plenty of time to get into position. The Golden Knight pulled the trigger at the top of faceoff circle with a good wrist shot, not a great one. Byfuglien’s mishap began the breakout but the Jets goaltender could’ve bailed his teammate out.

Down a game in the Western Conference finals, a reliable goaltender makes that save. Hellebuyck did not.

And that wasn’t even Hellebuyck’s worst mistake of Game 4. He bobbled a seemingly harmless shot from Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, then allowed a rebound shot through the five-hole on Tomas Nosek.

In Game 3, Hellebuyck’s blunder behind the net turned into a James Neal game breaking goal. Remember, this was :12 seconds after Winnipeg tied the game.

Hellebuyck’s gaffe could be looked at as the turning point in the series. NBC’s Keith Jones agreed that the Jets goaltender has shown flaws in his game throughout the WCF.

Jones’ colleague Mike Milbury also questioned Hellebuyck’s performance in Game 3. NBC was highlighting Jonathan Marchessault’s cockiness, and Milbury was in disbelief reliving some of the soft goals Winnipeg’s goalie let in.

It’s tough to place blame on Hellebuyck for Winnipeg’s sloppy play over the past three games. However, in this series he hasn’t shown the ability to cover up mistakes like his counterpart Marc-Andre Fleury. The Golden Knights commit turnovers as well, but their goaltender is playing at higher level. Fleury is able to get Vegas out of tough jams, and rarely mishandles the puck.

#29 didn’t play enough regular season games to be playing Vezina hockey, but now, he’s playing Conn Smythe hockey. Fleury doesn’t want to wait for his trophy like Hellebuyck will. The Conn Smyth gets handed out after the Cup gets raised.

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2 Comments

  1. Travis Bickle

    Hellebuck’s comments about how his play has been superior to Fleurys shows how delusional he is. He’s overrated and in need of a reality check. I thought the Jets were the best offensive team I saw at tmobile this year but there backend was weak. VGK already beat the best goaltender they’ll face in the playoffs when they swept the Kings and the best D-men in both L.A. and San Jose.
    Would love to handshake at home but will enjoy sending the Jets fishing Sunday.

  2. MikeinHenderson

    They came to see a Vezina candidate and the wrong one showed up!! Fleury has been on another level, a level only accomplished by a select few in postseason history. Connor Hellebuyck is a good goalie (not as good as he thinks), but he is struggling mightily and if the Jets had a better backup, he may be starting Game 5. Hellebuyck cannot stay clumsy if he wants to back up his words. We know one thing, the Golden Knights will be there to cash in on any Winnipeg wobble.

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