One of the most difficult feelings in life is when you lose confidence in your abilities. Sometimes, things don’t work out as we planned and suddenly we start second guessing ourselves. We all go through that from time to time.
So what happens when you’re a professional athlete who once showed great promise, but lately your “game” has been more like “shame?”
Welcome to Steve Mason’s world.
Mason has begun his Jets career with a not so stellar 0-3-1 record with a .872 save percentage and a whopping 4.84 goals against average.
I don’t mean to brag, but I’m pretty sure the Jets could pay me a lot less to post similar numbers.
So now what for Mason?
He was brought in by the Jets to be that stop-gap guy. With the Ondřej Pavelec reign of error finally coming to an end, Mason was signed to be the guy to hold the fort down while Connor Hellebuyck developed his own game before he could take over as the full-time Jets net minder.
Plans changed apparently.
Hellebuyck quickly took over from Mason and has started 7-0-1 with a .938 SV% and a 1.92GAA.
That wasn’t the plan.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great for Hellebuyck, it’s great for Jet fans and it’s even better for the Jets organization of course.
But where does that leave Mason in this picture?
Going back to the start in 2009, all started well enough. A draft pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Mason was a rookie phenom. In fact his first ever career shutout was against the same organization he now plays for, but when they were the Atlanta Thrashers.
And he won the Calder that season as well as being a Vezina finalist, posting ten shut outs along the way. It was as good as it gets for a rookie goalie.
But after that, he was never able to duplicate that play.
Mason would see his GAA and save percentage rise through the seasons. And his stop with the Philadelphia Flyers did nothing to boost his confidence.
So the Jets, in desperate need for some veteran goaltending help, took a chance on Mason.
Winnipeg was coming off a season of red light hell. The combination of Hellebuyck (GAA 3.34), Pavlec (GAA 4.09) and Michael Hutchinson (GAA 3.40) just wasn’t getting the job done and the Jets would miss the playoffs once again.
The Jets knew Hellebuyck was still their future. And he would end up putting in a ton of offseason work. A new goalie coach, a new diet, a new attitude towards the game and Helly has stared this season looking like the future.
Meanwhile, Hutchinson, demoted to the Manitoba Moose, has become trade banter.
So sorry Winnipeg, you’re stuck with Mason.
Now we have to assume Mason becomes a rather expensive back-up. At least in the meantime.
The question becomes, how to get the best out of Mason again?
It’s no secret confidence in goalies is massive. It’s not just the trust they need to have with the defense in front of them, but the confidence in their own abilities.
Goalies are on an island. They spend the better part of games on their own with nothing but their own thoughts.
But in the end, their job is to simply stop the pick from going over that red line.
So let’s start simple with Mason. Looking at the November schedule for the Jets, there’s some games where I would not start Mason and some I’d be more tempted to.
DON’T START MASON – November 16th, home to Philadelphia. Sure, you’re thinking why not? It’s his old team. Mason has a whopping one victory career wise vs. the Flyers. And that came in his amazing rookie season. Avoid that one.
DON’T START MASON – November 18th, home to the New Jersey Devils. Mason, if you can believe this, has NEVER beaten the Devils. And now is not the time to try either.
START MASON – November 20th at Nashville. Mason has eight career wins vs. The Preds. Not bad for a team that was out of his conference until now.
START MASON – November 27th, home to the Minnesota Wild. See above, eight career wins.
And a few other potential hot starts for Mason include:
But the start of all starts for Mason is against the Detroit Red Wings, who the Jets will visit December 5th. Mason absolutely owns them. 12 career wins against the Red Wings. About as must start for him as it gets.
So there’s some confidence building games ahead that can potentially help Mason out.
As far as Jets coach Paul Maurice goes, I know he’s a smart guy. I know he pays attention to stats. So here’s some free advice; Mason was off to a great start in his career. But a lousy Columbus team at the time, didn’t give him any help.
The Flyers fed him to the wolves. He got beaten up pretty badly in Philly.
Now he’s with a good young core of guys in Winnipeg. The defence has it’s ups and downs still, but there’s still hope there too.
So spoon feed Mason the games that will help elevate him.
The Jets need this as much as he does.
Flames’ Johnny Gaudreau Enjoying Strong Season
The Calgary Flames have seen some strong play from forward Johnny Gaudreau, who has played well enough to earn his 5th All-Star selection.
“Obviously he deserves it,” Flames forward Michael Frolik said, according to NHL.com. “He’s an unbelievable player. He’s so fast, and in those small spaces, those tight turns, he can handle the puck with speed. It’s fun to watch him and he’s been great this year.”
Flames defenseman Mark Giordana spoke highly of Gaudreau’s play.
“He can get you the puck in situations where you don’t think he can,” Giordano said. “But I think what people don’t see is just how competitive he is. The guys who are the best players in the League are [competitive] because they want the puck in key situations, and that’s how he is.
“Just look at his overtime play and stuff like that. I’m happy for the way his career is going but this year he’s taken that next step, for sure.”
“I think last year we played with Micheal Ferland, who was a little bit more of a shooter,” Gaudreau said of his strong play this season.
“Lindholm, obviously, is a shooter as well, but he can see the ice really well. He can make some pretty high-end plays, so I think I just got an opportunity to shoot a little more with a player like that on my line.”
Flames’ Travis Hamonic Suffers Facial Fracture During Fight
Calgary Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic will be out of action for a bit after he suffered a facial fracture during a fight with Vancouver Canucks defenseman Erik Gudbranson on opening night, the team officially announced on Friday.
In a corresponding move, the Flames called up defenseman Rasmus Anderson from the AHL to fill the empty roster spot.
Hamonic and Gudbranson got into it only 4:22 into the first period.
Canadiens Trade Kerby Rychel to Flames
The Montreal Canadiens and the Calgary Flames have completed a trade that will send forward Kerby Rychel to Calgary in exchange for forward Hunter Shinkaruk, according to an official team announcement from the Flames on Monday.
Rychel, 23, totalled 18 goals and 24 assists for 42 points last season in the AHL split between the Toronto Marlies and the Laval Rocket, and will now join his 4th NHL organization during his short career, having spent time with the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
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