Puck Daddy - NHL

Dollars to donuts, Steve Mason of the Columbus Blue Jackets is going to be the rookie of the year. He's gotten the most press; he practically carried the Jackets to what should be their first playoff berth as a franchise; his numbers are strong; and he's got that Canadian golden boy thing, too.

All of this is a harsh reality for Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators, who not only is delicious with meatballs but is finally getting some attention beyond awful jokes about his name. They've chatted him up on the Versus studio show to an audience of thousands. He's getting discovered by non-hockey local media in Nashville. Mike Brophy of Sportsnet even went as far as to say recently that the race for the Calder might not be over quite yet:

It is worth noting there is another rookie goaltender that is also putting up some mightily impressive numbers and should not be ignored at voting time. Nashville's Pekka Rinne, who played in the YoungStars Game after Mason dropped out, has a 23-11-1 record with better GAA (2.21) and a similar SP (.923) and also has seven shutouts.

Clearly Mason is the leading candidate for the rookie of the year award, but he is not the runaway winner some have painted him to be. Rinne deserves his props, too.

Props is one thing; but can he actually challenge for the Calder?

The current stats for Mason and Rinne:

GP

W

L

OT

Shots

GA

GAA

Sv%

SO

Mason

49

28

17

3

1344

109

2.24

.919

9

Rinne

40

24

11

1

1078

84

2.23

.922

7

Is that a shade closer than expected or what? They’re actually second and third in the League in GAA, behind Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins (2.12).

Mason's got the larger sample; but it could be argued that Rinne doesn't have the same offensive support (Nashville's 27th in the League in goals) and had to overthrow an incumbent goalie in Dan Ellis while Mason inherited the job via an injury to Pascal Leclaire. (Granted, Leclaire is now in Ottawa because of Mason's play.)

Both of them are probable to start this evening -- Mason against the Chicago Blackhawks, Rinne at the Anaheim Ducks -- as their teams are separated by three points in the standings.

Again, it's difficult to conceive of Mason failing to win the Calder, especially without any of the offensive rookies lighting the world on fire like Patrick Kane did last season. Even if he falls short, give Rinne credit for a remarkable rookie campaign, and for making things interesting in the final weeks of the regular season.

Bottom line is that Rinne could win the Calder, and at this point it would be hard to argue he didn't deserve it.

Related Articles

Puck Daddy

Add to My Yahoo RSS

Related Photo Gallery

Y! Sports Blog