Stopping only 7 of the 10 shots he faced in period one of game one this season, it seemed already pretty obvious to Jets’ fans that their goalie woes wouldn’t be solved by newly-acquired Steve Mason.
Mason, 29, acquired by Winnipeg during free agency this off-season, is a veteran of 9 years in the NHL. His career average Save Percentage is .911 and last year in Philadelphia, he was just about on par with that with a Sv% of .908 with 58 games played.
In a league where the average Sv% for ALL goaltenders was .913 last season, it is not at all hard to understand why the Jets were happy to sign him to a 2-year deal with a yearly cap hit of about $4.1million. At the time, Winnipeg General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff suggested the motivation to ink that contract was about ‘the now’.
Today, in ‘the now’, Mason looked shaken and uncertain. Nothing new for Mason, as he split time in the early goings of last season with Michal Neuvirth, during which time Mason had Sv% numbers under .900. He did, in his defense, finish the season quite strong. He managed to climb up over that .900 mark to a final .908 as mentioned above, but that’s not something that a team with pre-existing anxiety about the netminder position needs.
Matthew Perrault and super-star Patrik Laine tried to do what they could to salvage the fans’ pride and spirits, netting a 3rd-period goal each, but a 7-2 loss is not at all what the Jets needed to start the year.
The Jets need a goalie now, not in a month when he gets comfortable. They need a guy that can be a rock at the back and give them some consistency and confidence moving forward with a number of 25-year-old (or younger) ‘kids’ in the locker room. Is Mason that guy? Cheveldayoff thought so and said as much with the contract. After Mason was pulled just 36 seconds into the third period, do the Jets’ fans believe? More importantly, does Mason himself?
Time will tell, but for sure the Jets’ home opener did not instill that feeling in its fan base.