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.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Steen 68 33 29 17 62
T. Oshie 79 21 39 19 60
D. Backes 74 27 30 14 57
J. Schwartz 80 25 31 28 56
A. Pietrangelo 81 8 43 20 51
K. Shattenkirk 81 10 35 1 45
V. Tarasenko 64 21 22 20 43
D. Roy 75 9 28 -1 37
J. Bouwmeester 82 4 33 26 37
V. Sobotka 61 9 24 14 33
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
B. Elliott 18 6 2 .922 1.96
R. Miller 25 30 4 .918 2.64

 
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