Logical destinations for Chris Mason

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Mason1.jpgBefore I looked at Chris Mason’s numbers, the plan was to make a joke about how “the only thing that stood out about him was his astounding beard.” After looking over his career stats, though, I now realize that he could be an under-the-radar bargain.

Call me crazy, but Mason has the potential to be the next Craig Anderson. The parallel isn’t perfect, mind you, since Mason received his opportunity to start with the St. Louis Blues while Anderson was only a backup. Yet the most crucial factor – that he is flying under the radar but could end up being an outstanding value – remains the same. (They also both have experience backing up Tomas Vokoun.)

Just look at his career stats; aside from a really rough 2007-08 season (his final campaign with Nashville), Mason has been above average in net. His career save percentage is 91.4 percent, a mark that follows his two years with the Blues (91.3 last year, 91.6 in their 08-09 playoff run). His115-86-28 career record is impressive considering the fact that he played for solid-but-not-spectacular Blues and Predators teams.

Unlike Carey Price (an unproven-at-the-NHL-level player who now might cost Montreal a pretty penny), a Mason signing could be just as positive for his team as it will be for his own career.

After the jump, I’ll take a look at the best (not all, just the best) matches for Mason.


Note: I don’t think Mason’s prospects of landing a big payday are very good, so my main focus is finding matches that would either a) give him a lot of starts, b) allow him a chance to win a Cup or c) both.

San Jose Sharks

Now, this could be a great fit. San Jose could get a solid goalie while paying far less than they paid Evgeni Nabokov in 09-10. I mean, the Sharks aren’t ready to hand the reins to Thomas Greiss, are they?

Philadelphia Flyers

After all, the team is Nashville Predators East anyway, right? Mason-Boucher would be a nice 1a/1b duo that sports writers would love to underestimate. I don’t think Mason should cost much more than Michael Leighton, yet he has a much better track record.

Washington Capitals

I have some serious doubts that any goalie (except, perhaps, Dominik Hasek in his prime?) could look too great in the Caps’ net. That’s not meant as a knock on Washington, it’s just the simple truth that aggressiveness has its defensive drawbacks. Mason can allow Semyon Varlamov to continue his slow maturation into a possible goalie of the future while giving the team an affordable, steady veteran.

Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning are far from contenders, but new GM Steve Yzerman brings some needed credibility. It doesn’t hurt that the team features big names and a decent backup in Mike Smith (so Mason doesn’t need to go over 50-60 starts).

Other less promising options: Atlanta (bad team, decent job security), Columbus, Dallas (committed to Kari Lehtonen), Ottawa (Pascal Leclaire is pricey, though) and dare I say … Chicago?

Fleury, Penguins hang on for Game 1 win against Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins pulled off a 3-2 Game 1 win against the Washington Capitals, but Thursday’s thriller probably prompted a sigh of relief.

(Washington, meanwhile, might have uttered a sigh at such unpleasantly familiar feelings.)

The first period ended 0-0 in part thanks to Jake Guentzel‘s sprawling “kick save.” Business really picked up in the second after Sidney Crosby raced off to two quick goals, only for Alex Ovechkin to give Washington a shot thanks to a booming goal and some physical play.

It sure felt like this one might head to overtime, especially after Evgeny Kuznetsov was tying things up and flapping his arms like wings. That was not to be, however, as Nick Bonino took advantage of a pretty area pass to beat Braden Holtby for the decisive tally.

Now, it was only decisive because Marc-Andre Fleury was at the top of his game. Oh, and also because the Penguins did a collective Guentzel impression in frantically denying a tying tally.

Makes you want to wipe some sweat from your brow, eh?

The Capitals dominated by just about every statistical measure … except, of course, goals on the scoreboard. Pittsburgh will gladly take that 1-0 series lead, then.

Expect a desperate Washington team in Game 2, which airs at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can watch it online and via the NBC Sports App (click here for the livestream link).

Karlsson makes difference for Senators vs. Lundqvist, Rangers

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Swedish superstars Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson were both stupendous in Game 1 between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators.

Still, it was Karlsson’s game-winning goal (from a seemingly impossible angle) against Lundqvist that made the difference as the Senators beat the Rangers 2-1 on Thursday. With that, the Senators are up 1-0 in the series.

That Karlsson goal really deserves a special look.

Whether you blame that 2-1 tally on Lundqvist or not, the Rangers would be foolish to do anything but praise their red-hot franchise goalie. He stopped all 21 Senators shots in the first period and ultimately made 41 out of 43 stops in defeat.

Craig Anderson was strong in his own right, mind you. stopping 34 out of 35 shots (including all 28 at even-strength) to help Ottawa take that tight contest.

Anderson’s strong play highlights the fact that Rangers – Senators doesn’t merely come down to Lundqvist vs. Karlsson … but even so, both Swedish superstars really did stand out in this one.

Game 2 airs on NBC at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App; click here for the livestream link.

Ovechkin vs. Crosby shifts into high gear, Carlson clobbers Malkin

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You have to love when sports deliver on – if not exceed – the hype.

The second period of Game 1 between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals has been brilliant and nasty, possibly more than many hockey fans dreamed.

It began with the Penguins getting the big edge; Sidney Crosby scored two goals in the span of 52 seconds and Braden Holtby needed to make some tough stops to keep it at 2-0.

MORE: Video of Crosby’s hot start

That put a damper on the great crowd at the Verizon Center for a bit, but the Capitals ended up responding.

Part of that was a physical response, with Dmitry Orlov delivering a big hit on Tom Kuhnhackl and John Carlson absolutely leveling Evgeni Malkin. The narrative got almost too obvious moments later, as Alex Ovechkin fired a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury to make it 2-1.

Fleury made a tough stop or two of his own once it was 2-1, so while the pace is picking up, the two goalies seem like they’re alert to the challenge as well.

There was plenty of nastiness with 18.9 seconds remaining in the second, setting the stage for what could be a thrilling third period … and maybe more?

Buckle up.

Video: Crosby scores two goals in 52 seconds vs. Capitals

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Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins came roaring out of the gate to start the second period after a 0-0 opening frame against the Washington Capitals in Game 1.

Crosby scored two goals in just 52 seconds to give the Penguins a sudden 2-0 lead. One feels some pity for any fans who didn’t get to their seats just to start the frame … though in the likely event that they are Capitals fans, they might have been spared.

To Braden Holtby‘s credit, he made a couple tough saves moments later to keep it 2-0. It’s been a hectic first few minutes of the second after that relatively mundane first 20 minutes, so hang on tight.

Check out video above; you can also watch the pair of goals in the GIF combo below: