Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Mason Award Potential...
Steve Mason has exceeded expectations this year. It seems like only a couple weeks ago the doe eyed netminder was playing in his first game after recovering from knee surgery. Back in the day when Columbus was completely unsure of their goalie situation. Back when Leclaire knew something was wrong, but was not willing to bail on the team because of their instability in goal. Yes, back when Freddy No No was actually looking like a good decision as a backup goalie.
Stellar was really the only word to describe Mason's initial play. Surprising and satisfying were some other words I heard uttered from fellow Jackets fans as Mason saved a team learning to gel. His play paved the way for the surprising surge from the younger players on the team, and opened the door for rookies like Kris Russell to come around and show Hitchcock that he is the future of this team on defense. Steve Mason paved the way for a lot of things, and it looks like he is going to provide the key ingredient to the ideal playoff team.
It made me wonder what exactly this season could spell for Mason. The Calder trophy does not seem even remotely out of sight for him, considering he single handedly rebounded a team that was doomed to another bottom feeding year to a team currently sitting right in the thick of a playoff race. His goaltending numbers are well within the league’s top ten and could easily get his name in the running for the Vezina with his league leading 10 shutouts. Rarely has there been discussion about another goaltender winning games for teams, unless they are referring to Mason. Sure, Tim Thomas has some of the best numbers in the league, but that can not be said that he won games for Boston unless one is willing to overlook their impressive defensive core.
With all that being said, could it be possible that Mason should be in the running for the Hart trophy? He certainly is not a leader, but he most definitely plays a big game and wins his team games. Once again I think about the mediocre team record prior to his arrival. One can not overlook the fact that he has more than 30 wins and he has not even been available all year. I also believe the team plays differently in front of him. It is almost as though their step is a bit faster knowing that Mase is back there ready to make a miraculous save or ten.
This may seem like I am reaching quite a bit, but I dare anyone to show me a player in the league that has made a bigger difference for their team this year. I challenge the same person to explain to me how the Jackets would be in a playoff battle without Mason in nets.
Carry the Flag!