CBJ Goaltending: The (Dex)Show Must Go On

Mark Dekanich made his first start as a member of the Springfield Falcons eight days ago when the Falcons met the Connecticut Whale in Hartford. His second start was this past Friday night at home facing the Portland Pirates.

Many words have been written about the charismatic Dekanich since he signed a free agent deal with the Blue Jackets last July. Given most fans concerns in regards to Steve Mason, Blue Jackets Nation was hopeful that Dex might not only be a capable backup to Mason, but maybe, just maybe could wrest the #1 job from him.

About a week ago, I was convinced that the goaltending for the remainder of the season would likely continue with Mason/Sanford in Columbus and Manny Legace teaming with Dekanich for the Falcons.

Then Jeff Rimer said something.

During the game at United Center last Tuesday, he mentioned that Dekanich had finally gotten to play for the Falcons. Then he added, in an almost offhand manner, that Dex would get some more work in Springfield, but would be up with the Jackets soon.

I'll admit, that surprised me. In a season of dashed hopes, injuries and suspensions, I didn't think there would be yet another spin of the goalie roulette wheel. Rimer spoke as confidently as if he were carrying that information etched onto stone tablets and coming down the mountainside with it. Which got me to thinking...

By the trade deadline, Mase is as good as gone. Maybe so, but the problem there is that second year of his current two year contract, calling for $3.2 million next year and a cap hit of $2.9 million. I have a hard time wrapping my head around any club willing to shell out that kind of money for the former Rookie of the Year. If there are no suitors based on the need for Mase alone, it's more likely that he'll be an extra to a more relevant player in trade. Who that might be really would be anybody's guess. And, if all else fails, it wouldn't surprise me to see Mase make it to the end of the season and simply get bought out.

Option B could see Curtis Sanford dealt elsewhere, opening up a spot for Dex to finally play with the Jackets. Sanford, with 130 NHL games and another 248 at the AHL level, to his credit, has re-established himself as an NHL goaltender. Not a #1 per se, but a reliable veteran presence who in 21 games for a wretched Blue Jackets lineup has performed very well. As of Friday, Sanford's 7-9-0-3 record is easily overshadowed by a goals against of 2.59 and a .911 save percentage.

The guy hurt most by this season of injury has been Allen York. York, like Cam Atkinson, finished up last season with the Falcons. York, quite frankly, was great in the last couple weeks of a lost season in Springfield. Although it seems like an eternity ago, York was originally pencilled in as the #2 guy in Springy this season, behind Sanford. Instead, York has racked up thousands of miles in trips to Columbus, Springfield and Chicago. Several times and back again.

I mentioned in the recap from Friday night's Falcons game that Dekanich has played in only three games since last March 16th. What I feel is one of his strengths, is his ability to read a play as it's happening. His positioning is solid. His fundamentals are strong. He has made a handful of great saves. His downfall has been, if it can be called that, that he's been beaten for some goals that he should have had. Slightly out of position, maybe not getting a good view of the puck contribute to that. All in all, it's simply some rust on his game. Believe me, I strongly believe Dekanich is the real deal. It's just a matter of him getting and staying healthy, and getting in some games to get his game back to where he needs it to be.

Which brings us back to the question of what happens in the Jackets and Falcons goals the rest of the way? For my way of thinking, Sanford and Dekanich in Columbus with Legace and York in Springfield would work out just fine. I don't think it'll be that easy however. It may turn out as Mason/Dex up top, again with Legace/York in Springfield, with Sanford gone in a deal.

What say you?


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