In just Connor Hellebuyck’s fourth season since turning professional and just his second season he has spent exclusively in the NHL the Jets 5th round pick back in 2012 has had a 2017-18 season to remember. After it looked like he would be platooning or even backing up veteran Steve Mason who was signed in the offseason the goalie from Commerce Township, Michigan took it in stride and waited for his opportunity. That chance presented itself in game three of the season after Mason (and the Jets) didn’t come out of the gate very well going 0-2 with a 7-2 opening night loss at home to the Leafs and a 6-3 loss to the Flames in Calgary. Hellebuyck then made 28 of 30 saves in a 5-2 win over the Oilers in the aforementioned third game of the season and didn’t really look back.
In fact he went 8-0-2 in his first ten games of the season before picking up a regulation loss in his 11th appearance for Winnipeg.
Since then what the Jets netminder has been able to accomplish has been well documented as he has helped to lead his team to a significant turnaround and clinching just their second playoff berth since the move back to Winnipeg.
Once he tied former Penguins goalie Tom Barrasso for wins in game 81 against the Flames the Jets goalie said that he wanted to play last night with the opportunity to set the record. He finished the game making 28 of 29 saves which was good enough for a .968 save percentage as Winnipeg defeated Chicago 4-1 which meant that Connor Hellebuyck had now set the record for most wins in a season by a U.S. born goalie at 44.
Following the win it was pretty evident how much establishing this record meant to the Jets netminder as Hellebuyck told us in the post-game scrum “I’m very excited about it. To be in the history books is something that I’m always going to look back and be proud of,”.
While the talk for the Vezina this season around the NHL seems to favour the Predators Pekka Rinne or Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Lightning, Connor Hellebuyck will likely earn himself some votes with his play this season.
Looking at some of his numbers via Hockey Reference:
Games played: Tied for 1st (67)
Wins: Tied for 1st (44)
OT/SO Losses: Tied for 1st (9)
Shots against: 3rd (2048)
Saves: 3rd (1892)
Save percentage: 10th (.924)
Goals Against Average: 9th (2.36)
Shutouts: 3rd (6)
Minutes: 1st (3966)
Goals Saved Above Average: 4th (24)
It has been quite the season for the Jets goalie who will be an RFA after this season and has earned himself quite the pay raise (as well as long term contract).
But first he will have to focus on leading these Jets into what many expect could be a deep playoff run.
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