The sound of skates digging into the ice and pucks clanging off the boards filled the OhioHealth Ice Haus once again today as a few players participated in a morning skate.
Steve Mason has been among nine players to skate the past two days, and for him, the start of the season brings a lot to look forward to, including a battle with Sergei Bobrovsky for the starting goaltender position.
The Blue Jackets acquired Bobrovsky during the offseason in a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers for a 2012 draft pick and two fourth-round picks in the 2013 draft. The move by GM Scott Howson has set the stage this season for a battle for the No. 1 spot in goal.
Yet, after a summer of hardcore training, Mason is confident he can be the go-to guy in net for the Blue Jackets.
“I’m ready for it. It’s obviously a position I put myself in, but it’s also exciting for me because it’s something to work towards and get back,” Mason said after the skate today.
“I had a really good summer of training to get into really good shape,” said Mason, who played with 20 or so NHL players in the Toronto area to stay in shape during the CBA negotiations.
Mason said that in addition to losing some weight and maintaining a really good training regimen, he has also developed his mental game. He said the work he put in during the summer skating with players such as Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk in Toronto has helped him to develop patience in net and to “not always make the first move.” Continuing that patience during the regular season is key, he said.
Still, stopping shots in practice is different than in a game situation, where there’s more traffic in front of the net and guys are more physical. And with a shortened training camp schedule, the turnaround will have to be quick for Mason and the rest of the team.
“You can practice so much, but to get into game-like situations – it takes a bit of time," Mason said. "We just need to use the next week and half wisely, and make sure that the practices are real constructive and just to be a sponge and take everything in."
Despite the challenges of a short camp and practice schedule, Mason said he’s just looking forward to getting back to playing games with his teammates.
“It’s a really fresh start for everybody," he said. "We have pretty much a brand new team and new coaching staff, so it’s a lot to look forward to.”Go back to CBJ Today blog