After last night’s loss it has become rather clear to me that many have given up on Steve Mason, the Jackets number one goaltender. It seems that the kid is really in a funk, and no doubt, looking at the scoresheet will tell a rather bleek tale. But is that the case? I paid close attention to the game last night and watched the cause of each goal. Here is what I believe to be a reasonable breakdown of each one.
Goal 1: tiny Omark walks around TWO Jackets defenders to get his own rebound uncontested and made a solid play to kick the puck forward and bury.
Goal 2: tiny Eberle walks around Klesla, who doesn’t body up. Mase is bad positionally and gets beat far post.
Goal 3: Penner stands uncontested in the slot, scores from a pass from behind the net. Mason is in the right position, but gets beat.
Goal 4: Eberle skates out in front of Mason uncontested, tips the point shot to opposite post.
Goal 5: Mason challenges shooter, but puck is deflected wide to Paajarvi, who is not covered by a defender, and he scores into empty net
Goal 6: Awful turnover by Huselius, Mason is somewhat caught off guard, let’s one squeak through the five hole
It would seem that a common occurrence is being left out of the equation here. I am under the impression that a quality defense takes a general area on the ice and bodies up the opposition so they are unable to attack the net uncontested. I believe that goalies are expected to make the first save every time from outside the hash marks, and that the defense should play an integral role in not allowing any big rebounds.
It would seem that while Mason is struggling to support the first criteria, his defense is truly letting him down on the secondary criteria. The goal scored by Omark should have never happened. One of the two defenders should have bodied him up and not let him walk by. On the second goal, Eberle probably gave up 40lbs or more to Klesla, yet walked around him with relative ease. Certainly the goal scored by Paajarvi could have been avoided by someone bodying him up and avoiding the free pass to an open shot, but that it was rather flukey that the puck deflected off of a leg and landed up 91′s feet.
I am not going to sit here and say that Mason is playing like an all-star goalie. What I am saying, is that his defense is not giving him the support he so badly needs to perform with confidence. Every time Khabibulin gave out a rebound, a triangle of Oilers players surrounded the slot, guaranteeing the inability for a Blue Jacket player to walk in for the free goal. In fact, the only times they didn’t, the Jackets (aka Huselius) picked up the garbage and scored.
I’d love to hear everyone’s take on this. I’ve seen a LOT of twittering about Mase, and very little said about the defensive breakdowns.