This is something that Columbus Blue Jackets’ fans have been wondering ever since their franchise netminder Steve Mason won the Calder Trophy as the league’s rookie of the year in 2009.
At 0-7-1 to start the season, it is clear that Mason is continuing to struggle between the pipes for the Blue Jackets. Based on recent history, it appears that Mason is simply playing the way he has played for the last two seasons.
Since winning the Calder Trophy, Mason has clearly not been the same goaltender for the Blue Jackets. This season, his stats are well below the league average as he currently has a goals against average of 3.53 and a save percentage of just .878, both glaring problems for Mason and the Blue Jackets.
Last season, while he was not completely terrible, Mason was still not the Mason of old. He had a goals against average of 3.03 and a save percentage of .901. Again, not terrible but when it comes to starting NHL goaltenders, not where they should be.
The season before, which was the year of his rookie of the year campaign, Mason was, again, below average. He had similar numbers to the 2010-11 season which means that once again, he was well below NHL starting netminder standards.
So, being the smart and curious hockey fan that you are, you ask what has changed? What has happened to Columbus Blue Jackets’ netminder Steve Mason?
For starters, he looks shaky technically. In Friday night’s 5-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings, he was down early for shots, his angle was off and he played the way the rest of the team in front of him did.
Secondly, he may be struggling with his confidence. Like the rest of the hockey world, I am sure that Mason himself is trying to figure out what happened to his game.
Lastly, the rest of his team might be feeding off the way he is playing. This is something that NHL Network analyst Jamie McLennan brought up on NHL on the Fly on Friday night and it makes a lot of sense.
If Mason does not regain the game he had when he started in the NHL, one has to wonder how much longer the Blue Jackets can be patient with him.
Patrick Hoffman is a veteran hockey writer/blogger based in Fairfield, Connecticut.
On top of his work for Kukla’s Korner, Patrick covers the NHL for the Red Light District Hockey Blog and TheGoodPoint.com Hockey section.
Prior to writing for the above-mentioned outlets, Hoffman’s musings have been published on TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Spector’s Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com, here on NHL Home Ice from 2008 to 2009, as well as a slew of others.