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Center of Attention

All eyes are on Mason as he tries to lead the Blues back to the postseason

Wednesday, 02.11.2009 / 11:42 AM / St Louis Blues - Features
By Chris Pinkert  - St. Louis Blues
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Center of Attention
Chris Mason's play between the pipes will be a big factor in whether the Blues make their first playoff appearance since the 2003-04 season (Getty Images).
Ask Chris Mason what it feels like to be the club’s new No. 1 goaltender and he might say the extra media attention is the only thing that’s changed.

When faced with more reporters and more questions than usual after practice, Mason explains that despite his recent promotion, coming to the rink is still just business as usual.

“(Blues goalie coach Rick) Wamsley said ‘just stay on top of your game and keep working on it and go about our business as we have been,’” Mason said recently.

In fact, while the media uses terms like “No. 1 goalie” and “starter,” Mason hesitates to call himself the go-to guy.

“I want to keep my focus on playing hockey,” he said. “It’s starting to really come together and I think that’s where my focus needs to be, not on (calling myself a No. 1 goalie).

“That’s for other people to make labels,” he continued. “Whoever is in the nets, they have to get the job done. If I’m told to play every game, that’s what I’m going to do.”

With news surfacing last week of Manny Legace’s shocking assignment to the Peoria Rivermen of the American Hockey League, Mason finds himself in the spotlight. But it’s not the first time Mason has been thrust into the center of attention unexpectedly.

As a backup for the Nashville Predators in 2006, Mason was thrown to the wolves when then-No. 1 goalie Tomas Vokoun left abruptly due to a blood clot disorder. With added responsibility, Mason excelled and established himself enough that the Predators felt comfortable trading Vokoun, which they did the next summer.

Now, Mason finds himself inheriting a team in a dogfight to earn their first playoff berth since 2003-04, and his play between the pipes could be the biggest factor between making the playoffs and missing out again.

“You can look at our whole season and I don’t think we’re playing any different than we played in October, November, December or early January,” said Blues head coach Andy Murray. “It’s just that our goalie is stopping pucks.”

The Blues are one of the hottest teams in the Western Conference as of Feb. 11, going 5-2-3 in their previous 10 games and collecting at least one point in 11 of their last 13 games.

“The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter how we do it as long as we keep getting points and winning hockey games,” Mason said. “We’re starting our climb so we’ve just to keep going and stay with what we’re doing.”

Mason has certainly done his part for the last month and a half, posting a league-best goals against average and save percentage for the month of January.

“I think Chris is a real good goaltender, a very hard worker,” said Blues President John Davidson. “He’s finally getting a few goals scored for him recently, which has been nice. He’s in a pretty good groove right now. We just need good, consistent goaltending and we believe Chris can give it to us.”

“It took us awhile to figure out our identity and what we have to do to win. I think now, we have a good understanding of that,” Mason said. “We’ve had some success and I think we’ve got the experience together now to know what we have to do to win.

"Our effort is never in question. We’re just playing smarter and we understand how to win.”

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WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 NSH 62 41 14 7 188 147 89
2 ANA 62 38 17 7 182 174 83
3 STL 61 39 18 4 190 152 82
4 CHI 62 37 20 5 183 146 79
5 WPG 63 31 20 12 174 170 74
6 VAN 61 35 23 3 174 162 73
7 MIN 61 32 22 7 173 160 71
8 LAK 60 29 19 12 162 153 70
9 CGY 61 33 24 4 174 158 70
10 SJS 62 30 24 8 173 177 68
11 DAL 61 27 25 9 191 202 63
12 COL 61 26 24 11 161 175 63
13 ARI 62 20 35 7 137 210 47
14 EDM 62 18 34 10 142 206 46

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
V. Tarasenko 61 31 29 27 60
A. Steen 59 19 32 4 51
J. Schwartz 54 20 26 16 46
D. Backes 60 20 21 3 41
T. Oshie 53 17 24 12 41
K. Shattenkirk 49 8 32 18 40
P. Stastny 53 11 23 10 34
J. Lehtera 54 9 24 16 33
A. Pietrangelo 61 5 27 -3 32
P. Berglund 57 8 11 -2 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
B. Elliott 19 9 2 .921 2.21
J. Allen 17 6 2 .905 2.50

 
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