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Grading The Blues: Goaltending

It's taken a little while to get to this, mainly because we've all been trying to get back into somewhat of a normal awake/asleep pattern in our lives now that the season is over and there is no longer a need for hockey papers down at the DrinkScotch.

And while it'd be easier to simply fling out arbitrary letter grades to each player and then justify it it by saying, "He sucked," or "Remember when he made that one play? That was awesome," or even "I never liked him," we're going to do this a different way.

Instead of grades, which we all know are useless in grading hockey players (really, he deserved a B-minus?), here's our player-by-player wrap-up using the three-statement setup:

  • What we know
  • What we think we know
  • What we wish we knew

Today we'll start with the end, the netminders.

Chris Mason

#50 / Goalie / St. Louis Blues



Apr 20, 1976

2008 - Chris Mason 57 3215 27 21 7 7 129 2.41 1544 1415 .916 6

What we know: In the end, it seems that Manny Legace was right; Chris Mason was brought in to steal his job. Unfortunately for Legace, Mason made the decision completely justified, as the bearded one was a major reason for the Blues' turnaround and Legace and his whining wound up in the AHL.

Mason has another year left on his contract and has to know that the Blues are hoping a youngster can come in and take the job in a couple years. He could easily end up in the same position as Legace was this year very soon and no veteran goalie wants to be a lame-duck. The Blues have to be smart in how they handle Mason and this position or they risk having a malcontent netminder submarining yet another season.

What we think we know: Mason looks to be the de facto starter next year and management has mentioned bringing in a veteran back-up. Mason seems to thrive in goalie competitions ands he'll be playing for a new contract, so 2009-10 could be a big year for him. His agent and the Blues fans all hope that's true.

What we wish we knew: Ever wonder if Mason tried to get in Legace's head? During the aftermath of Manny hitting the waiver wire and being sent to Peoria, it sure seemed like he had psyched himself right out of a job. Some goalies make good tandems and some definitely do not. We'd love to know how these two dealt with each other.

Ben Bishop

#30 / Goalie / St. Louis Blues



Nov 21, 1986

2008 - Ben Bishop 6 245 1 1 1 1 12 2.94 112 100 .893 0

What we know: Surely the Blues would love for Big Ben Bishop to blossom and become the Steve Mason (third rounder-turned-top end goalie) of the team and take over the reigns in goal. Not only have the Blues lacked a good, young netminder that they could install and count on for years since the days of Curtis Joseph, but having that guy be someone who played high school hockey here would be a public relations boon.

Problem is that while Bishop looked great in his one start, he also was hurt in that game and held no more difficult duties than opening and closing the bench door down the stretch. What we really know about Bishop at this point is that we don't know enough about him to trust him with major NHL minutes.

What we think we know: Bishop will likely be the main guy in Peoria next season as the Blues install some free agent veteran as the NHL back-up. He's only 23, so there's no reason to rush him along. He and Chris (Steve Holt!) Holt should probably battle for 'netminder of the future' supremacy in the AHL.

What we wish we knew: We wish we could tell you there was some indicator as to which great young goalies become great NHL goalies. Obviously, so do most NHL scouts. More than any other position, great NHL goalies come from nowhere and great young goalies bust out and never make the NHL. Bishop could go either way and there's just no way to tell at this point.

Manny Legace

#34 / Goalie / St. Louis Blues



Feb 04, 1973

2008 - Manny Legace 29 1452 13 9 2 1 77 3.18 669 592 .885 0

What we know: All goalies are crazy; that's been proven by science. Legace admitted in an interview that he was thrown off when the Blues didn't give him a contract extension last summer and instead brought in Mason as his back-up even though Mason made more money and had two years left on his contract.

Legace should have read the writing on the walls. This was clearly going to be his last year in the Bluenote. He should have determined to have his best year ever and earned himself a new contract from some other team. Instead, he let it get in his head, played inconsistently and reportedly had a negative attitude in the locker room. Not only did he play himself out of the starter role, he played himself out of the NHL and possibly ruined any chance of an extended contract with an NHL team next year.

What we think we'll know: Legace didn't do himself any favors with his behavior and play this year, but there's a chance he'll pick up somehwere in the NHL as a veteran back-up. Problem is that he'll have to convince some general manager that he's ready to take a back seat and that he'll be a good teammate about it. That might be tough to do.

What we wish we knew: The Blues locker room seemed to be pretty happy place during the run, but Legace was called out for his Eeyore attitude before he was sent down. Granted, many professional athletes are giant man-babies in terms of emotional maturity, but what the hell was Legace doing to be such a Debby Downer and why didn't someone sit down with him and have a man-to-man talk about it?

Jake Allen

#60 / Goalie / St. Louis Blues



Aug 07, 1990

What we know: The Blues have clearly realized that the weakness of their prospect pipeline is in net. Allen was drafted last summer to give the team yet another young goalie that increases the odds that they can home-grow the team's next (first?) true franchise netminder.

What we think we know: It's going to be a few years before we see Allen play in a regukar season game for the Blues.

What we wish we knew: If any of these young guys will pan out.

Chris Holt

#35 / Goalie / St. Louis Blues



Jun 05, 1985

2008 - Chris Holt 1 19 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 3 3 1.000 0

What we know: Holt did an extensive interview with the Game Time Prospect Department this season and if nothing else, he seems very motivated to prove nay-sayers wrong. He's come from nowhere in the hockey world (University of Nebraska-Lincoln) and has had to battle better-known prospects (with the Rangers) before. He's going to have to do it again if he wants to make the Blues.

What we think we know: Bishop and Allen will probably be given a longer leash in their development tracks than Holt, so the margin of error for him is much thinner. He'll have to be great every time he gets an opportunity if he wants to make it.

What we wish we knew: If other people can't help but think, "Steve Holt!" every time they see his name.

Next up in our evaluations will be the team's forwards.