by PuckStopsHere on 05/02/14 at 12:33 AM ET
Steve Mason was the NHL's rookie of the year in 2009. His career looked like it was on its way to stardom. In his next almost four years in Columbus he was unable to replicate those numbers. He almost played himself out of the NHL. In 2013 he was traded to Philadelphia for a 3rd round draft pick and Michael Leighton, who was almost immediately allowed to walk away to the KHL. It was likely Mason's last chance to stay in the NHL.
Mason put up some strong numbers in his late season tryout with the Flyers and he was signed to a new contract and pencilled in to be the Flyers starting goalie in 2013/14. That looked to many like a recipe for disaster. However disaster never happened. In the regular season, Mason put up career bests in goals against average and saves percentage (1.90 and .917 respectively). These numbers were better than his rookie of the year numbers. He kept it up into the playoffs. He currently stands second to Tuukka Rask in both GAA and saves percentage in the playoffs (1.97 and .939 respectively). The Flyers may not have won in the first round but Mason gets no blame and nothing but rave reviews for his play.
The question is what do we expect going forward?
Mason has had an abrupt turnaround since joining the Philadelphia Flyers. If this keeps up, he may be the goalie we thought he might become in 2009. How likely is it to keep up?
It appears that a new start and perhaps a new goalie coach in Jeff Reese was all it took to turn things around. Mason does have talent, but he also has a history of inconsistent play. Goaltending in general is a very inconsistent position in the NHL. There are few goalies who have put up consistently strong numbers for several years in a row. There are many goalies who have had a strong season that they were unable to repeat. Given the leaguewide uncertainty in goaltending performance it is hard to think Steve Mason is one of the few capable of repeated top seasons.
Going forward, I would expect Steve Mason might be a starting goalie. That is by no means a given. There is a history that shows he can be inconsistent. I doubt he will be a top flight NHL goalie. Philadelphia Flyers fans may be very happy with Steve Mason right now, but it is very easy to imagine that situation will have changed significantly by this time next year.
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