directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Quick hitter

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Monday, February 16, 2009

Quick hitter


Well, with Martin Brodeur missing most of the season with a torn biceps tendon and Roberto Luongo missing considerable time with a groin injury (and taking even longer to round back into form), this year's field is as wide open as it's been in years.

Even perennial candidate Henrik Lundqvist has endured an up-and-down season with his often-lifeless New York Rangers. Lundqvist was yanked Sunday after giving up four goals on 14 shots in a 5-2 loss to Philadelphia, and his 2.57 goals-against average is 19th in the NHL.

So what do the league's GMs do (they decide on the award)? Well, if Columbus pushes its way into the playoffs (the Blue Jackets were among three teams tied for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Western Conference on Monday morning), the award has to go to rookie Steve Mason. The kid is unstoppable, battling mononucleosis to keep the Blue Jackets in the hunt for their first playoff berth. A virtual lock for rookie of the year honors, Mason has been a rock for Columbus and leads the NHL with a 2.06 GAA.

Who else? Evgeni Nabokov, a finalist last season, should get some love, but it's almost as though the Sharks are so good his play will get overlooked. Miikka Kiprusoff plays every night and the Flames are back in as Cup contenders, with the goalie leading the league in wins. Along the same lines as Mason (we could call it south of the Mason-Dixon line), Tomas Vokoun has reemerged as a top-flight goalie and has the Florida Panthers vying for their first playoff berth since 2000 with a sparkling .923 save percentage (eighth in the league).

And what of Marty Turco, who started the season playing like a bag of hammers but has been sensational since mid-December in helping the Stars back into the thick of the West race? Tim Thomas is a top statistical candidate, but splitting time with Manny Fernandez might cut into his Vezina votes. This year's final ballot promises to be among the most difficult votes the GMs have had in many years.

If the Jackets make the playoffs Mason has to be considered a favorite for this award. Regardless of playoffs or not, this kid should be a finalist and is a lock for the Calder.

That's all in the future although its nice to see Jacket players getting some recognition through NHL circles. For now though all I'm concerned abouts is.

Mason vs. Turco


Rick said...

Nice read on the brewing rivalry between the CBJ and Red Wings. I especially like this line:

"If these teams line up for a playoff showdown, look out. It’ll be a barrage of flying octopi and 19th century cannonballs."

LTL said...

Excellent read Rick. Thanks for the heads up!