The 35-year-old backup Jets netminder has played the Hurricanes three times this season, and he has won every time. He owns them so much he could make decisions on hirings and firings in their organization. How good is Mason against the Canes? He has a 3-0 record, and he’s started only twice.
“I haven’t played too many games against them,” Mason said. “When I first started playing for Nashville we always played them in exhibition, that kind of stuff. And you kind of get comfortable in a certain setting, I guess.
“Sometimes you play teams and for the life of you you can’t get a win against them, and some teams you just go in and it’s a comfort zone. I don’t know if there’s any real explanation.”
Mason has allowed four goals in three games against Carolina this season. He came on in relief of Ondrej Pavelec on Oct. 22 at MTS Centre and saved the day, stopping 18 of 19 shots after Pavelec had allowed two goals on just five attempts.
If Noel is somewhat nervous about starting his backup in a game they really, really, really, really need to win, all he needs to do is look at Pavelec’s 1-5-2 career record against the Hurricanes.
It’s not like Mason came into the year with career dominance over the Hurricanes; he was 2-2-1 in five decisions.
For the most part, goalies are at or around .500 versus most teams. There are a few squads, however, who either can’t beat certain goaltenders or score on them at will.
“I don’t have a great record against San Jose, I know that,” Mason said. “That’s one team that’s seemed to have my number over the years.”
Mason is right, as his 2-7-2 career mark against the Sharks illustrates. Don’t be afraid to start him against Los Angeles, though, because he is 9-4-1 with five shutouts against the Kings. He has never beaten Pittsburgh, but he has never lost to Washington in regulation.
“You definitely know players when you play against them more,” Mason said. “Like last year, for me, going to the East was an adjustment because you don’t know players. You don’t know tendencies. It kind of takes you the first couple times you play them.”
If Noel goes with the odds and Mason delivers for him yet again against the Hurricanes, the Jets will have a chance to make amends for their back-to-back struggles on Tuesday night against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
Heck, even if the Jets can’t topple the Eastern Conference leaders, getting a win over the cellar-dwelling Hurricanes would be good enough on their quick, two-game road trip.
The bottom line is the Jets are still going to be very much in the playoff picture when play resumes after the all-star break, which starts Wednesday and concludes next Monday. This despite the fact the eighth-place Washington Capitals picked up a point Sunday in a 4-3 overtime loss to Pittsburgh and moved three points up on 10th-place Winnipeg.
A couple of wins, however, would make their longest break of the season even sweeter.
“How we do in the next couple of games before we break,” Noel said, “is going to be important for us.”