Oh how quickly things can change for a team when their mindset goes in the right direction. For The Columbus Blue Jackets, this change seemed to come when 32 year old goaltender Curtis Sanford took the reigns from Steve Mason 3 games ago, and going 2-0-1 with a dazzling 1.46 goals against average and .943 save percentage. I just wanted to take a deeper look at this change, so here we go:
For Steve Mason, the team in front of him has been playing at half speed, the defense, hasn’t done work, and has made bad choices in front of the net. Mason, while his defense hasn’t helped him, he hasn’t helped himself, often looking rattled, letting in a few weak goals that seemed to shatter his, and his team’s confidence. Mason has looked absolutely spectacular at times this season, but more often, we have seen the puck wind up in the net. This break in which Sanford is playing, means a lot for Mason (besides healing his new injury), he can work on his game, and hopefully, get back to the form we all saw a few years ago, building back trust with his defense, and teammates, so both can play at the top of their game. When Sanford falters, Mason will get his turn inbetween the pipes again, and can try to prove that he’s our guy.
For Curtis Sanford, the ball is in his court, and he is running with it right now. A man who is playing like he deserves to be in this league, and he hasn’t shown any signs of weakness thus far. The team overall has had a change, hanging in against Boston, winning against Nashville and Calgary, most in part, thanks to Sanford, who made 80 saves over those 3 games. Making key stops on 2 on 1’s, breakaways, and on the penalty kill. The defense looks much more comfortable in front of Sanford, much more confident in making plays knowing he is back there. How long this run of good play lasts is the real question, if this boost is temporary, or if with Sanford’s help, the team has actually turned a corner after a disappointing start.
Now yes, there could be flaws in this theory, the team could just be getting better (Nikitin and Letestu are helping out, of course). But from my perspective, it seems the team play better in front of Sanford, and they get those key, morale boosting saves they do not seem to get with Mason. When the defense is comfortable with the goaltending, and vice versa, they run like a well oiled machine. When the trust is broken, the team just seems to fall apart at the seams. Let’s hope that Mason, and Dekanich (when he comes back) both find the same rhythm that Sanford has seemed to find on the ice. If that happens, there is no telling where we could be come seasons end.
LETS GO JACKETS!!!!!