COLUMBUS, OH - DECEMBER 14: Steve Mason #1 of the Columbus Blue Jackets tends net against the Nashville Predators at the Nationwide Arena on December 14, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
It is finally time to drop the puck for the National Hockey League season. The Nashville Predators' first opponent is the Columbus Blue Jackets with goaltenders Steve Mason and Sergei Bobrovsky. Now, I'm going to tell you how the Predators will be able to beat them as the 'How to Beat the Goalie' series continues on Fang Faction.
Steve Mason and Sergei Bobrovsky are not the sharpest goalies in the NHL. Both are still young at 24 years of age. Also, both have had many questionable games when the fans have doubted them. They are very shaky and have never had the high confidence necessary in the NHL--except for Mason's rookie season.
Ever since Steve Mason's rookie season, it has been nothing but downhill from that point on. In his defense however, the team in front of him hasn't been strong either. Last season was the worst year of his career.
Minor injuries like a cut hand and a puck to the head affected his game. And for a good portion of the season, the Blue Jackets starter was wearing the wrong sized pads (Editor's note: Wow!). This is new a season and he hopes to rebound.
Steve Mason's career stats against Nashville:
Here is how to score on Steve Mason:
Put the puck on net: Since Steve Mason didn't play overseas or in any competitive hockey during the lockout, he will be a bit rusty entering the season. Put plenty of shots on net to test him.
Movement: Steve Mason's weakness in his movement is moving left-to-right on the butterfly slide, after the right-to-left slide. He can't get back fast enough to stop the puck. This is perfect for the over excessive Preds passing team.
Blocker Side: For the snipers on the team, shooting blocker side will be the key to scoring. Unlike Pekka Rinne, Mason's blocker is on his left hand, opposed to Rinne's right.
Similar to Steve Mason, Sergei Bobrovsky (aka the number cop on the force) hasn't been put in a good place to develop his career. Playing for the Philadelphia Flyers the past two seasons, he overall played well for his age, except in the playoffs where it counts for Flyers fans.
Getting heckled as a young goalie in Philadelphia has to be the worst possible experience as an NHL goaltender. If Bobrovsky slips up a bit, there is no patience with the media and fans, he is going to be wanted gone.
Entering this season, Bobrovsky will most likely be behind Mason, because there has been too much money and time invested into the starting job. But as the season progresses in the short amount of time, Bobrovsky could see more games than Mason.
Sergei Bobrovsky's career stats against Nashville:
Here is how to score on Sergei Bobrovsky:
Left post knee up: Sergei Bobrovsky will leave gaps to score when he is in a post knee up position with his left leg up. Whether it is over the shoulder, or between the five-hole, there will be a place open.