Mathieu Garon hasn't seen many shots in the last month, but he took a pretty good one in the gut last night.
Looking for his first start since Nov. 6, and thinking he earned it based on his strong relief effort against Detroit, and that the timing was perfect with his former team visiting, Garon figured he'd get the nod against the L.A. Kings.
Everyone did -- especially with Dwayne Roloson having lost four of his previous five.
But in a move that is sure to further erode his confidence and add another layer of rust, Garon got snubbed again, marking the eighth straight game Craig MacTavish passed him over.
"Right now there's not much I can do, I'm not the one making the decisions," said Garon, who is clearly getting frustrated by the situation.
"All I can do is work hard and that's what I've been trying to do."
In the coaches' defence, Roloson was very good last night, but it doesn't change the fact that Garon, 30 years old compared with Roloson's 39, is supposed to be the goalie of the short-term future, holding the fort for a year or two until Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers and Devan Dubnyk are ready.
But for some reason, MacTavish and goalie coach Pete Peeters have been alarmingly quick to blacklist a netminder who played so well for them last year, and shone early this season.
"It's not just a game situation that we evaluate players, especially goaltenders," said MacTavish.
"It's a dialogue between Pete and I about what he's seeing from our three goaltenders in terms of being on top of their game in practice."
That he was good enough in the Detroit game to stop 24 of 25 shots in 48:44 of work, but wasn't good enough in the subsequent practices to start last night, doesn't make a lot of sense.
Whatever the reason they won't let Garon in, you have to assume the cold shoulders are doing serious damage to his game and his head.
"I don't know how he's feeling about it, he didn't really talk to me about it," said Garon, when asked about the communication between he and MacTavish.
"You never know which game you're going to play. Every game I hope I'm going to play. I know that when I get a chance, I'll be ready."
Garon, who was fantastic last year, and won the first three games of this season all by himself, doesn't understand why they don't trust him anymore.
"I'm the same goalie I was at the beginning of the season," he said.
"I don't think a goalie changes in two or three weeks. I think I'm still the same goalie and I'm really confident in myself."
He believes you can only improve yourself so much in practice --that the real development comes in games.
"You get part of it in practice and part of it you get in games,"he said.
"Right now in practice I'm feeling really sharp, the only thing I need now is playing games, feeling sharp in games."
The problem now is that it's almost unfair, after more than three weeks on the shelf, to expect him to jump into a game situation and be razor sharp.
It's a very real possibility that Garon's treatment over the last three weeks has done him more harm than good.
"We haven't (lost confidence in him)," said MacTavish.
"He's getting to the point where he's going to get a start here in the next couple of games.
"He looks better in practice and he's more ready for that start than he was to this point.
"It's incumbent on the player to get in there and play well if he wants to continue to play. That's the simple part of it.
"When the goalies go in and play outstanding, as Mathieu did early, Jeff did in the middle and Rolie's doing now, they're going to play.
"I'm not a fortune-teller. I go by what I see in practice and what I see in the games, it's as simple as that."