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Questions On Steve Mason And Kris Letang

ESPN hosted an online chat today with Scott Burnside...

Is Steve Mason for real? Should he be getting Vezina consideration?

Scott Burnside  Chris; Yes, I think it's fair to say that Steve Mason is the real deal; again. I recall talking to goaltending coach Jeff Reese during training camp and he thought apart from some of the technical things they were working on that one of the big factors was the Flyers' belief in Mason was going to be a big deal to Mason. It was time for a change and even when the team was struggling Mason has been very consistent. Vezina? Might be a stretch with guys like Carey Price, Semyon Varlamov, Josh Harding also having great seasons but Mason's is a great tale Vezina or not.

What is wrong with Kris Letang?Starting with the playoffs and now this season he isnt playing like his normal self.

Scott Burnside  No doubt last spring was a nightmare for Letang (and Pens fans in general) and you wonder how it might have eroded his confidence. Even with the contract extension he still can't seem to shake the mistakes that have come to mark his game. Being injured to start the season didn't help and maybe he is worried bout the Canadian Olympic team (he should stop worrying, by the way, as I don't think that's going to happen for him) but definitely needs to get back on track. On a positive note, the Pens have been patient with guys whose game goes sideways ie. Paul Martin and Letang is still a young man so entirely likely he'll get that swagger back in his game.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, | KK Hockey | Permalink



1) Mason’s numbers are genuinely good, but one hidden buff on his baseline stats is a .902 save percentage on the penalty kill. As a matter of fact, Mason’s backup Ray Emery has been better at even strength than Mason this season (.943 to .938) but is getting killed on the PK (.800), which is why Mason has a much better looking overall figure.

But how much is genuine? We know from experience that even strength save percentage tends to be more reliable over the long term, whereas save percentage on the PK tends to vary more wildly due to small samples and increased team factors (even among two goalies on the same team). I think Mason’s gotten more than a bit lucky so far and that his luck will cool.

2) How stringent is Burniside’s definition of “for real”? What’s the cutoff? If saying Mason is “for real” means that he’s genuinely improved his game enough to become a competent NHL starter (as opposed to a very poor one), you may be correct—it’s too early to tell I supposed. But if saying he’s “for real” means that he’s joined the elite and his current .938 is a representation of true talent, well ... that’s just absurd, frankly. No goaltender joins another team or gets a new coach and suddenly becomes 30 points better overnight. I mean, that’s nearly a goal better PER GAME. That level of increased performance in raw terms is like a fourth liner suddenly turning into Sidney Crosby. It just doesn’t happen.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 12/06/13 at 09:33 AM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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