"First, he leads the NHL in the one stat that trumps all others: wins." (Scott Burnside, ESPN)
Going after Scott Burnside on goalie analysis is not dissimilar to shooting fish in a barrel, but my real beef is with how he is parroting the conventional wisdom that people within hockey consider wins to be extremely important. It might be Burnside's opinion that wins are the most vital stat, which is obviously misguided but he is allowed to personally believe whatever he wants. The problem is that when he explicitly claims to be handicapping the Vezina race, then at a minimum I would expect that he should be aware of what stats have actually been considered to be important in past voting.
Here is how the last 20 Vezina winners have ranked in five key goalie stats (GVT is Goals Versus Threshold):
Some readily apparent observations from the above table:
1. It is very rare for the consensus best goalie to win the most games. Only 4 of the last 20 Vezina winners led the league in wins. In contrast, for each of the other four stats, the Vezina winner was more likely to lead the league than not. Wins are in fact easily trumped by save percentage, GAA, shutouts, and GVT.
2. The data suggests that the emphasis on shutouts may be decreasing as well, although that could just be variance.
3. The 1996, 2003 and 2004 decisions stand out quite starkly relative to the others. The unwillingness of voters to rank non-playoff goalies as the best in the league was a big factor in the '96 and '04 votes, which is at least somewhat understandable although I disagree with the logic. That leaves the '03 Vezina as the most unusual result of the last two decades. Voters overlooked a playoff goalie that had 1-1-10-5-1 ranking based on the above table, a pattern that much more closely matches the overall averages than that year's winner.
4. The historical pattern that goalies require an excellent GAA to win a Vezina has continued. I would suggest that a low GAA on a strong defensive team seems to be the biggest source of error in the current voting, as those goalies appear on ballots much more frequently than average goalies that rack up a lot of wins on strong offensive teams.