Pollard: So called hockey traditionalists please take note

Dan Pollard
3/12/2009 1:33:28 PM
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So called hockey traditionalists please take note. Suggestions by General Managers to crack down on staged fights and to use the instigator penalty more often were made by among others, Paul Holmgren, Darryl Sutter and Doug Risebrough who combined for over two thousand minutes in penalties over their career. 

Coaching in the NHL is a unique mixture of X's and O's and emotion. There's no question Guy Carbonneau knows the game. What made Bob Gainey step in to make a change behind the Habs bench was a disconnect between the coach and the players. Carbonneau lived and died with every shift as a player. Frustrations rise as a coach when players don't respond the same way. Frustration can lead to resentment and take away from the strengths of a coach. Decisions on match-ups and ice time can be affected. Confidence on both sides of the equation can erode. The Guy Carbonneau who was relieved of his duties was not the same Guy Carbonneau who was hired by Bob Gainey and not because things improved.

It's still early to start filling in the name plate but at this point voters would be hard pressed not make a goaltender the next winner of the Calder Trophy.

The question is which one?

Nashville's Pekka Rinne is giving the Blue Jackets' Steve Mason a run for top rookie honours. Both have helped put their teams in a position to make the playoffs this year. For Columbus it would be the franchises maiden voyage into the post-season.

There's not much to choose from when comparing the goaltenders numbers wise.
Other than shutouts, Rinne's numbers are better or almost identical to Masons.

That being said, when forced to make a choice my support leans to Mason.

The young Blue Jacket goaltender has white washed the opposition nine times. That's the most shutouts since Ken Dryden recorded eight as a rookie with Montreal in 1971-72. Rinne has six.

The modern day record of fifteen was set by Tony Esposito in 1969-70 but he was 26 yrs-old at the time. Mason turns 21 May 29th. Rinne is actually barely eligible for rookie honours. He turned 26 in November. Had he turned 26 before September 15th, he would not be eligible.

Andrew Raycroft, playing with Boston at the time, was the last goaltender and the 14th to win the Calder. Unlike Mason, who could win rookie honours in the same year he made his debut, Raycroft had played 21 games in parts of three previous seasons before winning the Calder in 2004. I think that's what makes what Mason is doing even more remarkable. While Rinne isn't exactly a grizzled veteran, playing three NHL games over parts of two seasons, he's been between the pipes for 145 games of AHL action.   

Rinne could turn out to be the better long-range player but this is the year of Mason for me.

By the way, rookie Blue Jacket netminders have actually recorded 10 shutouts this year. Dan Lacosta pitched a shutout Feb 10th against Colorado while filling in for Mason who was down and out with a case of mono.
Henrik and Daniel Sedin, who are hoping to double their money by heading into unrestricted free agency in the off-season, enter the market as the highest scoring twins in NHL history. On January 28th, they passed Rich and Ron Sutter who had recorded 850 points in their career.

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