Steve Yzerman recently attended the World Championships in Switzerland to scout for the 2010 Olympics. With that in mind, and after some surprise performances in the first two rounds of the playoffs, the time has come to begin the goalie watch for the Games. The Canadian home ice advantage, the use of an NHL-sized ice surface and the league’s unwillingness to commit to the 2014 games in Sochi, Russia are laying the groundwork for what could be the best hockey tournament of all time. So it’s only fitting to expect the best display of goaltending. Most countries will hold summer camps and then evaluate the first half of next season before will making their final decisions but we say let the armchair quarterbacking begin! The top contenders for the gold medal will each need to make some potentially difficult decisions so Tenders Lounge will dedicate separate posts to the medal contenders. First up, the home team Canadians.
Not only are does Team Canada face the pressure of being the host country but they also need to remove the bitter taste from a 7th place finish at the 2006 Torino games.
Luongo and Brodeur were expected to reprise their roles from Torino. Will anyone push them out of the picture?
It’s not like the Toronto hockey press corps needed anything more to write about this season (new coach, new GM, Sundin-gate, another season of missing the playoffs) but now they finally get to cover Justin Pogge’s debut in the Leaft net tonight in Atlanta.
Pogge inherits 29 from Mike Palmateer and Felix Potvin
UPDATE: Mason had a successful NHL debut last night, making 22 saves and getting the win in a 5-4 victory over the Oilers. He needs to buy Manny Malhotra a beer for knocking in the game-winner with 69 seconds left in the third and allowing Mason to avoid going to OT in his first NHL game. All I can make out in Mason’s mask is the “Mase” nickname on the chin… will have to wait for more photos to see the look he’s bringing to the NHL. He’s wearing #1 now rather than the #35 he wore as an emergency call-up last year.
2008 has been quite a year for 20yr old Steve Mason. He started the year by backstopping the Canadian junior team to a gold medal while winning MVP and Top Goalie honours (after being traded from London to Kitchener mid-tournament), answering an emergency call-up to the Blue Jackets, having knee surgery and then winning the OHL championship (but missing the Memorial Cup because of the injury).
How does the year get better? By making his first NHL start tonight against the Edmonton Oilers, of course. Great news for Mason but is this really good news for the Jackets? Pascal Leclaire’s injured ankle has him in the press box for another week (at least) and Ken Hitchcock apparently feels that Frederik Norrena and Dan LaCosta just aren’t getting the job done. Regardless of who’s filling the backup role, Columbus just isn’t going to make its first playoff appearance this year without another career season from Leclaire because when he’s injured they simply don’t have the same type of lineup the Devils have without Brodeur.
Thanks to @BethanyM85 for her Twitter tip that Mason was getting the nod tonight.