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Mason gets immediate opportunity to redeem himself

by Brian Hedger
DETROIT -- Despite getting pulled after a five-goal second period on Sunday in a 6-3 loss to the Edmonton Oilers, Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason will start on Monday night against the Detroit Red Wings.

"He's our No. 1 goalie right now, so he's playing," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said after Monday's morning skate at Joe Louis Arena. "It was a 3 o'clock game (Sunday). Took him out for the third period thinking that we'll get him a little bit more rest and get him ready for (Monday night)."

Richards said he hadn't had a discussion with Mason after the outing and hopes the goalie will be able to erase it and look ahead to the Red Wings -- who've struggled with injuries, but stormed back from a 4-1 deficit to beat Carolina 5-4 on Saturday night at the "Joe."

"I didn't have a conversation (with Mason)," Richards said. "There may be different times when I'll have conversations with either him or another player in regards to whether it was a tough outing or my decision ... a decision I made maybe, but I didn't talk to him last night and I didn't talk to him today, but I did let him know that he was going to play."

Despite Detroit's multitude of injured regulars, the Wings still have enough left to be dangerous to face, according to Richards. Like they did on Saturday night to the Hurricanes, the Red Wings are capable of putting up goals in bunches -- which is nothing new to the Blue Jackets when facing Detroit.

"That's what good teams can do," Richards said. "This team knows how to win. They have a skill set up front and they can burn you if you aren't ready to play. It's blood in the water. I've felt it in this building before and I've seen it before, whether we're playing at home or on the road. So, it's going to be how we manage it."

Along those lines, how will the Jackets finish out the last seven games of an otherwise dreadful season?

"The goals are the same,'" Richards said. "I think we all knew that's where we were going to be. We had all accepted that and again, our focus was going to be on how we played the last 19 games. We've have some good games. We've had some disappointing games. We've had some games where we've played well for the majority of the game, but we lost our game and it ended up costing us games."

Richards said he believed the Jackets are still in it to win games, but admitted it gets tougher for players to stay motivated over the last few games of a disappointing season. Still, Monday night's game is against a team trying to clinch its 21st straight post-season appearance in a row with a victory.

"I don't think there should be a lot of motivation from me getting ready for this game and even the next game at home, playing these guys back to back for six periods," Richards said. "These guys can embarrass you quick. They're trying to elevate their game. They're gearing up for the playoffs. They're using this game and the next game to get ready for the big games for them coming up."
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