These year-end NHL awards usually don't yield many surprises in terms of the three finalists, and in the case of the 2011 Vezina Trophy, it's about the same.
Sure, there are some snubs, like perhaps Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and Canadiens netminder Carey Price, but the truth is that there are only three spots for finalists, and ultimately only one winner anyway. Not everybody can finish in the top-3 of the voting.
It's probably a bad afternoon for Luongo to earn the nod, after the whole collapse in Game 5 against the Blackhawks on Thursday night. But for starters, it's a regular season award, and the Jennings Trophy winner is a big reason why the Canucks were President's Trophy winners this season. He had, quite simply, the best year of his NHL career this year and is deserving of the nomination, although he likely won't go home with the hardware in June.
That honor instead will likely go to one of the other two netminders up for the award: Thomas or Rinne.
Thomas, who won the Vezina two years ago before falling off the proverbial cliff one year ago, has returned to form over the course of this past season. He's frankly been the front-runner for the award all year long, and without his stellar play in the beginning of the season for the Bruins, it's not likely that they win the Northeast Division.
Rinne is considered the darkhorse here, but that's not really a fair assessment of his play. If you're in Nashville, you know just how good this guy is, and really, he's been his team's MVP this season. The number of close victories the Preds pulled out in the final weeks of the season after 35 and 40 save efforts by Rinne is just remarkable. He played in 29 of the team's 30 final games. If you don't know who Rinne is, you need to watch more Predators hockey.