I bash the media a lot in this space, but sometimes it is interesting to see what they have to say. For Puck Prospectus I put together a look at three star selections for goalies.
I just quickly looked up the same numbers last year for Steve Mason, because I'm interested by how seasonal statistics like GAA and shutouts can have a huge impact on perceptions. Fans and media personnel who watch the games can be unimpressed by a goaltender night after night over long stretches of the season, but come April the number of wins and shutouts in the goalie's stat line might lead them to quite a different conclusion. If you watch a goalie make 18 easy saves against the Carolina Hurricanes on a Tuesday night in November, you might think that was a pretty meaningless shutout. Months later, when your memories of that game have faded and you are trying to decide which goalies to put on your Vezina ballot, that shutout might make the difference between that goalie or someone else.
Mason's three star voting numbers in 2008-09 fell right in line with his save percentages. He was lights-out in December (.950 save %, named one of the game's three stars 8 times in 11 starts), but was mediocre for the rest of the season (.905 save %, named a game star in just 10 out of 41 starts). Over the entire season Mason was named a star of the game in 34% of his starts, which is pretty good but not anything unusual since the average for goalies is about 30% of the time.
For three and half months Mason's play was subpar and those watching certainly weren't being amazed by what they saw. Yet because of his terrific work earlier in the year, every time they looked at a stat sheet they saw a pretty low GAA, a decent win total and most notably a lot of shutouts. The result was a widespread perception that Mason carried the Blue Jackets into the playoffs, earning him a flat-out ridiculous 4th place finish in Hart Trophy voting.