– The Winnipeg Jets
are Ondrej Pavelec
's team, make no mistake, but the Czech netminder has a solid veteran backup ready to go whenever needed.
Pavelec has played in 31 of the Jets' 39 games this season, and coach Claude Noel
admits that Pavelec's strong work in net has made finding an opportunity to spell his No. 1 goaltender difficult.
Goalie - WPG
GAA: 1.91 | SVP: 0.927
did not play between Oct. 27 and Nov. 25, thanks to a groin injury and Pavelec's hot hand. Since then, Mason has made only four starts in net for Winnipeg. But with a desire to go no longer than 10 days between starts for Mason, a busy January schedule ahead and no let-up in the caliber of Winnipeg's opponents, Noel figured that Thursday was as good a time as any to give the 35-year-old Mason a start.
"He gives you no reason to not play him," Noel said. "He continues to battle hard. He comes in cold. There can't be a tougher job than the job he has. He really doesn't get chance to get into the rhythm, yet he has to be close to perfect."
Mason delivered against the Kings, stopping all 31 shots that he faced for his first shutout and the Jets' fourth of the season. With a starter's pedigree himself, having played 61 games for the St. Louis Blues
just two seasons ago, Mason offers Noel a viable alternative in net.
"In a game like tonight where you have some guys who can shoot the puck and do some damage," Noel said, "he comes up and looks like he has been playing every night. He certainly gives a comfort level to your team."