This is something that Columbus Blue Jackets fans are probably thinking about, considering that their franchise netminder, Steve Mason, has not been the same goaltender that won the Calder Trophy back in 2009.
There is no doubt that Mason is a young, talented and athletic netminder who has the ability to win hockey games on his own and make big saves. With that said, however, he has not done that on a consistent basis over the past two seasons.
In both the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons, Mason's goals-against average was just over 3.00 (3.05 and 3.03) and his save percentage was .901 each season. His statistics were not anywhere close to what the top netminders were producing, something he was back in 2008-09.
Mason's rookie campaign was a dream season for both him and the team. He won the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie; he was fourth in Hart Trophy voting as the league's most valuable player; he was a Vezina Tropy candidate as the league's top netminder; and he helped get the Blue Jackets into the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
Everything after that has been well below that season's performance. He has allowed soft goals, has cost his team several games, has not stopped the puck on a consistent basis and has looked uncomfortable. Simply put, he has mightily underachieved.
With all of that said, Mason has it in him to be the goaltender that he was a few years ago. He has the talent, the skill and all the ability in the world to be a terrific goaltender for the Blue Jackets franchise and to get this team back into the postseason.
However, Mason obviously needs the team in front of him to be better. He needs the offense to score goals and the defense to make his life a bit easier, something that the club has made an effort to do this summer with the additions of Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski.
It will be interesting to see which Mason shows up this season in Columbus. If it is the one that played in 2008-09, the Blue Jackets may be in store for a terrific season. If it's not, GM Scott Howson may have some thinking to do.
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