Mason gets call for Jets
|After suffering a groin injury, backup Chris Mason is back in the lineup. (FRED GREENSLADE/Reuters files)
RALEIGH, N.C. - The Winnipeg Jets are turning to veteran backup Chris Mason for the first time in nearly a month as they get set to face the Carolina Hurricanes in an important Southeast Division battle on Friday night at RBC Center.
Ondrej Pavelec started the past 13 games for the Jets, but he’ll give way to Mason, who hasn’t played since suffering a groin injury roughly five minutes into a relief appearance against the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 27.
“It’s definitely been a while, but I’m excited to get back in the net and get an opportunity to get some game time here,” said Mason, who made 18 save in relief and earned the win against the Hurricanes back on Oct. 22. “Mostly, it’s just getting in the comfort zone early in the game, getting used to the game traffic, covering up pucks and trying to control rebounds and things like that. All the little things that I’m focused on.”
Jets captain Andrew Ladd doesn’t think the Jets will need to adjust their style with Mason between the pipes.
“We just have to focus on what’s made us successful, everyone in here respects (Mason) and how hard he works every day. He’s a true professional and one of our leaders in the room,” said Ladd. “We’ll be prepared to play, whether it’s him or (Pavelec) in the net. We just want to build on what we’ve been doing these past four games.”
Cam Ward gets the call in goal for the Hurricanes, who are 8-11-4 and tied with the Jets and Tampa Bay Lightning for third place in the Southeast Division with 20 points.
The Jets will make one lineup change for sure, inserting forward Tim Stapleton for Jason Jaffray.
Jets head coach Claude Noel might have to insert defenceman Arturs Kulda for Ron Hainsey, who left the morning skate early with what appeared to be a lower-body issue.
“You know what, we’re not sure, it’s maintenance,” said Noel. “We need to try and see where he’s at. It will be a game-time decision.”
The Hurricanes have shaken off a slow start and have points in three consecutive games (2-0-1).
“It’s a conscious effort by everybody to simplify things and make sure we’re playing well defensively first and letting the offence take care of itself,” said Hurricanes captain Eric Staal. “Less thinking, more compete on pucks and it’s been better of late. We’re playing a more consistent brand of hockey.”
Although the season is merely entering the second quarter, both teams understand the value of points and the likelihood that one of the two clubs won’t be invited to the post-season party.
“That’s the way this game shakes itself out, we’d both like to think there’s lots of room for everybody (in the playoffs) but the fact of the matter is that when you get down to it, it’s the usual suspects that hold the Top-5 (spots) and for everybody else, it’s a scratch and claw to get in,” said Hurricanes head coach Paul Maurice. “So these games are huge.”