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Making a case for the Calder…

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.

Pekka Rinne.

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.

Want more?

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.

The Blue Jackets’ Steve Mason however, has goal support. He’s got a point-per-game captain in Rick Nash and flashy winger Kristian Huselius among others with the 7th best offense in the West.

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?


  1. @stackiii

    March 16, 2009 at 10:14 am

    Pssshhh… no-brainer here. Rinne FTW!

  2. Codey

    March 16, 2009 at 10:18 am

    Mason has the unrelated but hard to ignore fact of taking Columbus to their first playoffs. I think in the voter’s mind that will help push Mason to the win.

    Is Rinne deserving? Absolutely.
    Will he win? We’ll have to see.

  3. Buddy Oakes

    March 16, 2009 at 10:20 am

    You are preaching to the choir with me. On top of everything else Pekka is a really solid individual and the nicest guy in the world to deal with. He would be the perfect employee in any line of work. He does a great job, is a real team player, and is complementary of everyone, including Steve Mason. I think how the two teams do down the stretch will play a big part in the voting. Hopefully, Pekka will prevail and get what he deserves.

  4. Bill

    March 16, 2009 at 10:43 am

    It feels good to have a goalie that can “steal” games for you. I think he gets alot of consideration, but I think Mason’s been talked about longer and this will be the first year the Jackets make it to the play-off, so he’s got to have the upper hand……

  5. Paul Nicholson

    March 16, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Pekka’s been the better goalie over less games, i think that is fair. When it comes to judging the calder though, i think games played can and should come into play. I would be outraged if another player won the award but had played only 10 games and was making Pekka and Mason both look bad.

    So, lets do it Forechecker style…

    Mason’s winning percentage is .571 while the rest of the goalies on his team combine for a .391 percentage – an 18% swing. Rinne on the other hand has a .589 winning percentage to Ellis’ .323 – a 26% swing.

    Mason has a 2.24 GAA and .919 SV%. The rest of the CBJ goalies have averaged a 2.84 GAA & a .879 SV%. That’s .6 goals more and 4% drop in SV% when Mason’s not on the ice for the Jackets.

    Rinne has a 2.21 GAA and .923 SV%. Ellis has 2.93 GAA & a .900 SV%. That’s .72 more goals and a 2.3% drop in SV% when Rinne’s not in.

    There are the numbers to backup that Rinne means more to the Preds than Mason means to the Blue Jackets.

  6. Paul Nicholson

    March 16, 2009 at 10:52 am

    Oh, and i almost forgot, for what it’s worth:

    The rest of the CBJ netminders have 1 combined shutout in 26 games. Ellis has 3 shutouts in 35.

    Not sure how that helps the case either way, but that’s the other comparison stat i could come up with.

  7. Bill

    March 16, 2009 at 11:33 am

    What were Mason’s numbers at his 35 game mark? I think that would be another way to compare the 2.

  8. lane

    March 17, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    the case was made that rinne hadn’t played the entire season, though has his team in the playoffs – same can be said about mase, so this angle is a nonfactor.

  9. bigalneal

    March 21, 2009 at 6:05 am

    Paul Nicholson- You’re drunk with your little stats comparing the BACK UP goalies numbers. All they prove is that the Columbus back ups have been slightly better than the Nashville back ups. It’s a worthless argument that no Calder voter with any sense for the game would ignore. That’s called stretching.

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