Making a case for the Calder…
- Updated: March 16, 2009
There’s a guy in Columbus you may have heard of: Steve Mason. He leads the league in shutouts with nine, third in the league with a 2.24 goals against average and he’s getting all of the rookie of the year pub a freshman player could want.
But then there’s another guy.
He plays for a little team in Nashville, Tennessee, is second in the league in shutouts (7), third in the league in save percentage, second in the league in goals against average, has put together four win streaks of three games or more and, more than any other factor, is the single reason his team is in the playoff race.
Rinne, undoubtedly, will be a Calder Trophy nominee, given annually to the NHL’s best rookie, but should he be the front runner as opposed to Mason? An argument could be made that Rinne is more deserved seeing as how he only has two less shutouts and five less wins despite playing 10 less games than Mason.
Only Detroit’s Ty Conklin (24) has more wins than Rinne (23) for a goaltender having played less than 40 games. Considering Detroit has 101 points in the standings and the Preds have 73, it makes you wonder where the Preds would be with A) some scoring or B) Rinne being the season long starter.
The deciding factor really should be where the respective goalie’s team would be without them.
Predators fans know that Dan Ellis can be a solid goaltender but, for whatever reason, never really got off on the right track this season. Rinne stepped in, wrestled away the starting job with solid play (often times stellar play) and, the next thing they know, the Predators are pushing to make the playoffs.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Teams know that goaltending needs offensive support to win games. Rinne has been so good this season, the Preds have been able to afford working out the offensive kinks while he stands on his head and manages to rack up wins.
Rinne has had to single-handedly win games. The Preds have the second worst offense in the entire NHL, having only scored 175 goals in 69 games. Only the Coyotes have put up worse offensive numbers. Rinne has had to win one-goal games all over the place and has delivered. Nashville has played in 28 one-goal games this season, Rinne having lost only 5 of those.
Everyone who watches this team knows where they’d be without Rinne between the pipes. They’d be hanging out with the Islanders, Lightning and Coyotes in the John Tavares sweepstakes. Instead, they’re fighting for their fifth-consecutive playoff appearance.
Mason garnered a lot of attention for himself with three consecutive shutouts back in December. Ever since then, he’s been the Calder Trophy front-runner. Since then, he’s averaged a shutout a month to help bolster his argument for the hardware. But let’s take a look at the entire season, shall we?
Mason has allowed four or more goals 10 times. Rinne only seven, not to mention only once in February, and not at all in December. Furthermore, Rinne hasn’t been pulled from a game since November 6.
Both goalies have brought their clubs stabilty in net. Both have given their clubs new life. Both have put their clubs higher in the standings than they probably should be. Both are deserved of the award.
But only one will win.
It’s a given that, whichever team doesn’t make the playoffs, that goalie will not win the award. But, if both teams make the playoffs – which looks more and more likely – let the debate begin.
So who should it be?