Monday, September 24, 2007

Nashville's Fate Rests on Mason's Shoulders

With the trading away of Tomas Vokoun to Florida, for the first time in his career, Chris Mason has an undisputed starters role. Mason stunned the league last season by posting incredible numbers filling in for Vokoun, and eventually made him dispensable. Mason played almost as many games last year, as he had in his entire career leading up to that season! He played 40 games, and had 44 career at the start of the season. The question this year will be: Can Mason, who has only played 84 games in his career, handle the load of an entire season? He is 31 years-old, and entering his prime, so I see no reason why not. He certainly caught me by surprise last year, I'll admit it. If you told me at the start of last season, that this would be the situation now I would have called you crazy, but here we are. I know I'll be rooting for him to succeed, but he'll be playing behind a much less skilled lineup this season with some key losses this off-season. The back-up this season will be one of Pekka Rinne or Dan Ellis. Both are untested at the NHL level, and have equal opportunities to make the big squad. Rinne was in the Preds' organization last season, playing for Milwaukee of the AHL, and Ellis was with the Stars' organization, playing for Iowa, also of the AHL. A goaltender by the name of Dov Grumet-Morris will be the backup for the AHL team in Milwaukee, so they have their situation pretty much set in Nashville.