That pic above (I love this new image thingy!!) was the lone goal scored on Steve Mason in last night's playoff-pivotal Nashville vs. Columbus tilt. Why am I talking about a game featuring two Central Division teams on an Avalanche blog? Simple. That was one of the best goaltending-centric games I've seen in a while. We all know that goaltending woes have been a much ballyhooed topic around these parts and both Pekka Rinne and Steve Mason are good examples of how goaltending development SHOULD occur for an NHL franchise: with patience before they hit NHL ice and after.
Rinne, an 8th round pick in 2004, was dubbed the 'goalie of the future' since way back when Vokoun was the starter in Music City. He saw spot duty in the NHL over the course of a couple of NHL season, but wasn't thrown into the fire. He came behind Dan Ellis who came behind Chris Mason. Both of those guys were given ample time in the AHL (Ellis in the Stars' system and Mason in the Preds') to round into form and help improve the big club from year-to-year.
Steve Mason was finished out his stellar OHL career before jumping to the A this season and getting the call-up once franchise goalie Pascal Leclaire (a 1st round 2002 pick of the BJ's, by the way) went down with an injury. Columbus is so high on him that they dealt Leclaire to Ottawa.
I say all of that to say this: I don't know many Avs fans who wouldn't have liked to see any of those above goalies in a unipron in the last couple of seasons. Colorado has done the exact same thing (left young goalies in the A) with Budaj and before him, David Aebischer, but for the exact opposite reasons. Aebby was allowed to 'mature' because he wasn't going to steal time from Roy and Budaj was always used as a stop-gap between the search for Roy's successor. Budaj and Aebby were both deemed "not good enough" when PL double-dipped with Montreal in the Theo trade. Theo was continually given chance after chance even when Budaj's play warranted more starts. Then coming into this season, Boots was basically told the job was his, but at the first sign of trouble behind a woeful team, Raycroft was given plenty of rope.
It seems painfully obvious that management is always looking for something better on the FA market rather than committing to developing goalies. Maybe future guys like Weiman, Delmas, Patterson, or Cann will change that history, but it still makes me wonder why my favorite team can't find guys like Rinne or Mason, develop them, and have their own guys anchor a team. We're in Year 4 of the salary cap and I still think management is relying on old business strategies and tendencies to spend money rather than develop goalies. But the real question is whether it's a lack of real developement, bad scouting, or bad luck that has shaped the Avalanche's in-house goaltending?