So, my writing on this blog has been spotty at best. I'll get on a real kick where I want to write about everything and then I'll hit a point where I'm like, "Man, coming up with stuff to write about is hard." So I stop for a while until I feel compelled to write again. Well, today, I found that I'm about to have a lot more time to write and one of my dreams is to become a sports writer someday. So.....here we go.
I want to start off by sharing a few things I've learned from the beginning of this season.
Steve Mason is not that good.
Seems like an obvious one, but I guess we'll just start with the easy one's first.
I used to be hopeful about Steve Mason. When Mason hit the scene in 2008-09, he was incredible. As a rookie, (in Columbus, of all places) he put up 33 wins, a .916 SV%, and a 2.29 GAA in 61 starts. Mase's stats weren't enough to win a Vezina, but they were definitely a promising sign that the NHL had a new up-and-coming goalie in Columbus. Mason won the Calder Trophy in 08-09 as the league's Rookie of the Year. Unfortunately--for Mase and the Columbus faithful--these seem to be Mason's "Glory Years"; or should I say "Glory Year"?
Since that rookie season, Mason hasn't even started as many games as he did then, much less won that many games. He lost more games than he won in the 09-10 campaign and only posted 3 more wins than losses last season. Mason was also unable to keep his GAA below 3 the past two seasons.
I never wrote off Mason until this year, though. In Mason's second season, I was satisfied to blame Mason's struggles on a sophomore slump. The league had simply figured him out, and he needed to step up his game, work on his technique and come back with another strong season in 2010-11.
When Mason struggled again in 2010-11, I shrugged my shoulders and wondered, "Who could thrive in Columbus?" For a while, I thought that Mason's performance so far in 2011-12 strengthened my argument. However, I've changed my mind.
In 16 games, Mase has posted a disgraceful record of 3-12-1, a horrendous GAA of 3.63, and a shameful .875 SV%. Again, when I look at the underwhelming roster in Columbus, I'm very tempted to blame the defense. However, the Jackets have addressed this issue. Fedor Tyutin is decent and they signed Nikita Nikitin, who is decent now and has lots of promise for the future. And although I think he's a colossal douchebag, their offseason acquisition of James Wisniewski also strengthened their blue line significantly. I feel a lot of teams have a defense just as good/bad (however you want to phrase it) as Columbus, yet aren't being gashed by every single team they play.
Enter Curtis Sanford. "Who," you say? "Exactly," I say. Curtis Sanford, the journeyman goaltender who's played for a list of teams as long as my arm, but has never really been on anyone's All-Star Team. After playing in only 7 games this year, Sanford has already piled up as many wins as Mason. And though he has played less than half the amount of games Mase has played this year, Sanford's numbers are staggering, considering that he's playing with the same team in front of him that Mason has all season. Sanford is sporting a 1.39 GAA and a .947 SV%.
So, what's my point? Sanford is the next big thing? No. My point is that if a no-namer can outplay Steve Mason in such a significant way (with the same team in front of him, no less), then Mason is just not good enough to compete in the NHL. There are no longer any more reasons for Mason to be as BAD as he has been this year, when a call-up scrub can post these numbers.
I used to be hopeful about Steve Mason, but not anymore.