At the beginning of every season, fans of the Columbus Blue Jackets believe their team will be a playoff threat. And every year they are severely let down.
The difference this season is that their eternal optimism is finally justified. It's no secret that for years the Blue Jackets needed talent to pair up front with Rick Nash, as well as a player to quarterback the power play.
This offseason, both of those needs were satisfied as they acquired Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski. Needless to say, the expectations for this season are higher than ever. That being said, after a 1-8-1 beginning to 2011-12, questions are being asked.
Sure, Wisniewski was suspended for the first eight games of the season, and Jeff Carter is out with a foot injury, but the problems go much deeper than that.
Most people who read this article already know who Andrew Raycroft is.
He is a fine backup goaltender for the Dallas Stars (arguably one of the most talented backups in the league), a pretty comfortable spot to be in his career. That being said, if you heard he was going to be the backup for the Stars six or seven years ago, you wouldn't have believed it.
In the 2003-2004 season, Raycroft won the Calder Memorial Trophy, doled out to the best rookie in the league. In the years that followed that incredible season, however, we saw a serious decline in his performance.
Sound familiar? Steve Mason won the Calder Trophy in 2008-2009, after going 33-20 and posting an incredible 10 shutouts. Since then, we have witnessed a constant decrease in efficiency from the former stalwart.
Each season, Blue Jackets management gave him the benefit of the doubt. But with expectations higher than ever, you have to assume this is the last straw. After starting in all 10 games of this atrocious start to the season with an .885 save percentage and a 3.33 GAA, Mason is on the hot seat.
With Wisniewski back in action and Carter returning soon, Mason must pick up his performance or he could see himself following in Raycroft's footsteps come April.