This post is part of Jets Day on PHT…
Yeah, it’s the new guy.
Goaltending has been the single biggest issue in Winnipeg ever since the franchise arrived from Atlanta seven years ago, consistently finishing near the bottom of the league in save percentage. Ondrej Pavelec wasn’t the answer, and Michael Hutchinson and Connor Hellebuyck didn’t seem to be the answer a year ago. Now the job gets turned over to Steve Mason, coming over in free agency from the Philadelphia Flyers on a two-year, $8.2 million contract.
So why the pressure? Well, simply because he has to be the guy to help fill the hole that has held the Jets back more than any other in recent years. And he has to do it while rebounding from what was a down year in Philadelphia, managing only a .908 save percentage that was his lowest individual mark since he played for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
That sort of performance won’t work for the Jets because it was pretty much exactly what their two-headed goaltending monster gave them a season ago. If he can return to the form he showed during the first four years he spent in Philadelphia it would be a pretty significant boost to a Jets team that hasn’t really had anything even remotely close to a consistent, No. 1 starting goaltender in … well … ever.
If Mason can be that guy the Jets might actually have a chance to contend for a playoff spot, especially given how good their offense was this past season.
If he can not be that guy it will simply be more of the same in Winnipeg where a team with some pretty good talent and what is now a high-scoring offense gets sabotaged by goaltending.
The Jets don’t need him to be Dominik Hasek. They can score enough goals that they don’t need a goalie to steal games for them every night. They just need him to be good.