Friday, February 12, 2010

Steve Mason a Potential Olympian?

I have to say I was a fan of the selections for the Canadian Olympic hockey team, but I'm not inspired with confidence after seeing Steve Mason named as the injury replacement on call ahead of other options like Cam Ward or Carey Price.

Ward and Price have both had their ups and downs, but at least they've had some ups. Mason's been flat-lining ever since the magic December 2008 that made him famous. His monthly save percentages in 2009 and 2010 are decidedly unimpressive:


Yikes. I get that he's the "goalie of the future" and has a world junior gold medal pedigree, but right now he shouldn't be anywhere near the Olympics. I'm assuming that it would have been Ward if not for injury, and that Mason was more or less the default option as the only remaining healthy goalie who attended the orientation camp last fall, but if Patrice Bergeron could make the team then there was no reason they couldn't go outside the training camp roster for their selections.

Who the fourth goalie is will have no effect on the games, of course, but it still reflects on the selection process. If they get that wrong, they might very well get it wrong on who will be the #1 or the #2. The correct answer to both of those questions, of course, is "Not Marc-Andre Fleury." Just compare them over last season and this one:

Roberto Luongo: .672 win %, 2.31 GAA, .920 Sv%
Martin Brodeur: .640 win %, 2.33 GAA, .916 Sv%
Marc-Andre Fleury: .640 win %, 2.66 GAA, .910 Sv%

Luongo vs. Brodeur is a fun debate, but realistically that choice probably won't have much of an effect on Canada's win probability over a short tournament. Just keep Fleury in the stands and it should be OK.

I did notice, however, that if you watch the documentary "On Home Ice" (available on Youtube), there is a shot of a whiteboard with the Canadian depth chart on it while Team Canada's management staff was discussing player choices. The goalies are listed in the following order:


I don't know if that means anything, but I sure hope not. I guess we'll find out in four days.


The Puck Stops Here said...

I completely agree with your analysis. My pick as Canada's third goalie would have been JS Giguere - and yes I picked him when he was still in Anaheim. There really are only two top 10 goalies who are Canadian. The third goalie will necessarily be a step down.

What I find most refreshing here is that you are willing to quesiton the choices made on their hockey merits. This comes after I have debated on my blog about I dont think Canada made the most optimal choices offensively either (4 of the top 8 NHL scorers who are Canadian are omissions - St Louis, Stamkos, Brad Richards and Mike Green are missing while Crosby, Thornton, Heatley and Marleau made it). No other major hockey power left off more than 2 of their top 8 scorers in the NHL (and it is Russia and the Czechs who did that and have significant KHL contingents who may make those omissions more logical).

I have been told repeatedly that Steve Yzerman knows more about hockey then you therefore those picks are right, which completely misses the point that we should be discussing the hockey merits of the choices and not the credentials of the people who made them.

Anonymous said...

I'd put Dan Cloutier in ahead of "M8son".

Derick said...

The fact that Yzerman has experienced more hockey doesn't mean he understands it more. A fat person, a dog playing in a park, and a really fat guy all experience gravity more than a skinny physicist. An illeterate getting laid off of his minimum wage job has experienced the recession more than Niall Ferguson.

Derick said...

*facepalm* I misspelled "illiterate"

Bruce said...

That's funny. :)

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

The Puck Stops Here:

I think Canada did make the optimal choices offensively. I'm not sure your argument about them leaving off the top scorers is particularly convincing. Canada is almost guaranteed to leave off the most top scorers because of simple statistical variance. Scoring totals bounce around from year to year depending on percentages, player usage and team situations. Canada has by far the most NHLers of any country, so it is likely that in any Olympic year there will be a few Canadians that have unusually good seasons. That does not necessarily mean they are the best players, however. Is Steven Stamkos a true 17.5% shooter? I highly doubt it.

Secondly, rating players on total points is kind of useless without taking into account the fact that all these guys play big power play minutes on their own teams but that there aren't many PP minutes to go around on Team Canada. Richards, St. Louis and Stamkos all play big PP minutes and rack up a lot of PP points, but they wouldn't get much time on the PP if they made Team Canada. Of those three only St. Louis ranks among the top 8 Canadian scorers at even strength. Yzerman actually picked 7 of Canada's top 9 even strength scorers for his team, and those 9 all ranked in the top 20 in the league. Canada's team is absolutely stacked offensively.

Having said that, for an Olympic team your goal should not be to pick the top scorers. What you want is the top outscorers. With that in mind, Bergeron over St. Louis, Stamkos or Brad Richards was a good choice.

Have you checked out Bergeron's underlying numbers? They're fantastic. Bergeron plays tough competition and takes more draws in the d-zone than in the o-zone, yet with him on the ice the Bruins still heavily outshoot the other team. He's 35th in the league in relative Corsi and has a higher QualComp than every single guy ahead of him.

When the Russian snipers jump over the boards, there's no strategic advantage to having someone like Marty St. Louis out there who will skate up and down the ice and trade chances. If anything that's a recipe for disaster against a top 6 that has an average career NHL shooting percentage of 13.3%. You want Patrice Bergeron out there to force turnovers, win puck battles, feed the puck to Sidney Crosby and help hem the bad guys in their own end.

The best thing to do is outchance the other team, and this Canadian lineup looks to be able to do just that against any opponent. After that all you can do is hope the breaks and/or goaltending ends up in your favour.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

Looks I didn't really have anything to worry about after all as it will be Luongo in game one and Brodeur in game two, and we'll see where they go from there.

Hilleraj said...

Whenever I hear the Third Goalie debate brought up, I think back to 2002... The classic shot of a disheveled Eddy Belfour, receiving a gold medal while wearing track pants and winter boots, makes me glad to know that - no matter who the choice - we'll have a decent NHL-calibre goalie not suiting up... you know, just in case our "just-in-case" plan fails.

Oh yeah, Derick... your choice of using two examples of fat people to illustrate your point... genius! I'm guessing you chose the term "fat person" for the second case, just so that you wouldn't seem sexist (while trying to make a completely assinine point). Bravo!

Oh yeah, and the dog, both fat people, and the scientist would all experience gravity in exactly the same fashion (assuming they're equidistant from the center of the Earth, that is). If the point that you were trying to make was that the other examples would weigh more than a skinny scientist, and thus feel a stronger force of gravity - then maybe you should have chosen an animal that typically weighs more than the average nerd. You know, instead of a fucking dog!

Shan said...

I'd take Mason ahead of Price, myself.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

Mason ahead of Price? Based on current form? Really?

nightfly said...

Personally, I'd invest in a bunch of "Halacque" jerseys and hope that nobody at the IIHF noticed.

Tom said...

Turns out, it was Chris Mason, not Steve Mason, who was put down as the emergency goaltender. Thoughts on that pick?

Anonymous said...

This is somewhat unrelated to the post, but I'm interested on your take on the aftermath of Canada's 3-2 SO win over the Swiss last night. I am currently reading an article on with the headline "Brodeur bests Hiller"... talk about hyperbole (|NHL|home). The article is praising Brodeur for his clutch performance by stopping 4 swiss shooters in the shootout (I'd say that's probably easier then stopping 3 typical NHL shooters), and how it clearly earned him the start against the US.

Anyways, typical Brodeur win, team outshoots opponents by a 2 to 1 margin, and everyone praises Brodeur when he wins it in overtime. I'm sure if Canada ends up winning gold, 10 years from now we will hear about how "Team Canada was playing absolutely terribly in the opening stages of round robin play at the 2010 olympics, but Brodeur kept them in it with timely clutch saves, single handedly turning the teams fortunes around".

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

If it was Chris Mason, not Steve, then I'd have no problem with it.

"Brodeur bests Hiller" is of course hyperbole. A Brodeur at the top of his game stops that first goal and Canada probably never gets into the serious trouble that they did. Not that I'd really blame him for it, it was certainly a good shot, just that if you want to compare his performance to Hiller's then you absolutely have to bring it up because Hiller was lights-out.

I don't think Brodeur earned anything against the Swiss, he was going to start against the Americans anyway.

Bruce said...

I'll say it was a good shot. Wide open 2-on-1 and the guy gets a full slapshot at speed from the just above the faceoff dot right off the post and in. To me that one was on Doughty and any and all of the three forwards Staal-Getzlaf-Perry who didn't recognize the danger when Doughty pinched and bust their tails back up the ice. A spectacular save could have bailed them out, I guess, but that was a team error, and the Swiss made us pay.

MathMan said...

Not surprised to see people'd take a struggling goalie, or even a sieve, ahead of Price.

Price's current form is highly underrated in people's minds because a- he plays on a team that's so injury-riddled and poorly coached it requires miraculous goaltending to win any given game and b- the guy he backs up actually provides miraculous goaltending on a regular basis, as Russia just found out to their chagrin, and c-he's being painted as the golden boy who's gotten everything handed to him stealing the job of a more meritous underdog by the local media, who do so for reasons that have more to do with their dislike of certain people and less with actual hockey.

All this combined with a poor W-L record makes people think he's actually being a bad goalie, which he plainly isn't. Put Price behind even a moderately decent team and people would think he was a pretty good goalie, probably even very good since he wouldn't have to stand on his head all the time.

Picking him over Steve Mason (now THAT is a young goalie having problem) for the Olympics should have been a no-brainer, although you'd probably still want to take Cam Ward ahead of him.

Anonymous said...

I'd just like to congratulate TCG. Yesterday provided a little bit of pure, unadulterated blog title vindication.

Anonymous said...

How much more will it take for people to finally realize that he IS a fraud? Sheeesh . . .

nightfly said...

Our boys rocked him like the Hurricanes...