Mason no longer singing the blues

He’s one of the hottest goaltenders in the NHL and the masked man roughly 200 feet away is arguably the best puck-stopper on the planet.

St. Louis Blue Chris Mason

VANCOUVER — He’s one of the hottest goaltenders in the NHL and the masked man roughly 200 feet away is arguably the best puck-stopper on the planet.

But St. Louis Blues goalie Chris Mason has no interest in making the current playoff series a battle between himself and Vancouver Canucks all-world netminder Roberto Luongo.

“That’s the kind of stuff I used to worry about,” Mason said Thursday, less than 24 hours after a 2-1 Vancouver win in Game 1 of the best-of-seven Western Conference quarter-final. “But now I honestly just try and focus on the puck. That’s enough to worry about. If I start thinking about who’s at the other end I can lose (focus).”

Over the past three months, Mason has encountered few, if any, problems regarding his powers of concentration. The 32-year-old Red Deer native took over as the Blues’ No. 1 goaltender in January and started — and completed — his 34th consecutive game Wednesday.

Mason could not have envisioned this sort of success one year ago after losing his starters’ job with the Nashville Predators to rookie Dan Ellis earlier in the season. “Last year was so disappointing,” said Mason, but the feeling of dejection didn’t last long as the veteran goalie was dealt to the Blues in June, ending his four-year stay in Music City.

Mason, intent on earning his hefty paycheque with his new club, travelled to Calgary twice a week last summer to work with Tyler Love of World Pro Goaltending.

“When I got traded I thought it was a good opportunity for a fresh start,” he said. “I wanted to get off to a good start (with the Blues), which didn’t happen. It was kind of a weird beginning (to the season) but once I got the opportunity to play all the time I settled in and felt really good.”

That opportunity came early in the New Year when the Blues demoted veteran Manny Legace. Mason posted a 24-8-6 record in his final 38 starts and finished the regular season with a 2.41 goals-against average, a .916 save percentage and six shutouts.

“I just go out and play and it’s the best feeling,” said Mason. “I really feel that this is the first time I’ve actually earned a starting position. When I played a lot in previous years it was due to injury or a trade. This season I feel like I’ve earned it and I’m grateful for the opportunity. You don’t always get a second chance and I’m just thankful that I did.”

Now, Mason and his teammates have to take advantage of their second chance to get a playoff win on the Canucks’ home ice. Game 2 of the series is tonight at GM Place and the Blues ‘tender suggested that creating traffic in front of Luongo will be a necessity.

“The first game was exactly what we expected,” said Mason. “They’re a tough team to play against. They have a lot of talent up front and then they have one of the best goalies in the world. We have to make life difficult for him by getting more guys to the net. There are lots of rebounds available, it’s just tough getting there.”

The Blues have a bevy of young talent with the likes of energetic forwards David Backes, T.J. Oshie, David Perron and Patrik Berglund, but are somewhat lacking in post-season savvy.

“Last night was a tough game to play because we don’t have a ton of playoff experience, myself included,” said Mason. “With all the media attention and all the build-up, you’re thinking about the first game and when it finally arrives you’re nervous.”

But as he noted, a handful of Blues veterans did deliver a useful message prior to Wednesday’s opener.

“Guys like Dan Hinote and Andy McDonald have won the Stanley Cup and Jay McKee has been to the final,” said Mason. “One of the things that they stressed was that our emotions were going to be running really high, and that we had to stay on an even keel.”

The Blues fell just short in Game 1 and remain a confident group, Mason insisted.

“What we feel good about is that we know we can play better,” he said. “We know we can be more physical. We’re at our best when we’re physical, when we’re dumping it in and getting in there on the forecheck, and we didn’t do that as good as we can.

“Sure, it sucks to lose, but the secret is to control our emotions, to not get too high or too low.”

Contact Greg Meachem at

Just Posted

Rural transit service rolled out

2A South Regional Transit will link Innisfail and Penhold with Red Deer

Some Red Deer waste collection schedules change due to holiday season

Tuesday collections will be moved for two weeks

Red Deer ‘champion’ helps hospital by sharing ongoing petition

It’s been about three years since many physicians at Red Deer Regional… Continue reading

Red Deer Airport’s prospects are looking up for 2019

Ultra-low-cost passenger service is on the horizon

Funding down for Red Deer Christmas charities

Food hampers and toys for children going out to those in need

Alberta’s Sundial starts shipping to AGLC this week

Sundial’s Rocky View facility has received the green light from Health Canada… Continue reading

Penny Marshall dead at 75, best known as TV’s Laverne and director of ‘Big,’ ‘A League of Their Own’

Bronx-born Penny Marshall, who found ’70s sitcom success on “Laverne and Shirley”… Continue reading

Chabot scores overtime winner to lift Senators over Predators 4-3

OTTAWA — Thomas Chabot saw an opening and he took it. And… Continue reading

Canadian Marielle Thompson earns World Cup ski cross bronze in season opener

AROSA, Switzerland — Canada’s Marielle Thompson captured bronze at the opening World… Continue reading

Canada doesn’t make Oscars short list for best foreign language film

LOS ANGELES — Canada is no longer in the running for best… Continue reading

Warrant issued for arrest of ‘Schwimmer lookalike’ suspect

LONDON — A British judge has issued an arrest warrant for an… Continue reading

Moneywise: Canadian workers unhappy with pay, want pension plans

Many working Canadians are feeling underpaid and are so worried about their… Continue reading

Brazil police say faith healer has turned himself in

RIO DE JANEIRO — A celebrity faith healer accused of sexually abusing… Continue reading

B.C. hockey coach creates ‘gear library’ to remove cost barrier of sport

VANCOUVER — Nicola Froese says she has always loved playing sports, but… Continue reading

Most Read