Rick Gethin, Staff Writer
35 shots on goal and not a single one got through the wall that is Steve Mason. Recording his 9th shutout of the season, the Columbus net-minder kept the Blue Jackets solidly in 6th place in the Western Conference, with 74 points. Raffi Torres scored a PP goal with “The Captain”, Rick Nash, scoring an empty-netter to ice the win as the Boston Bruins go down by a score of 2-0.
If you’ll recall, the Blue Jackets steam-rolled over the Detroit Red Wings 8-2 on Saturday. They played the best team in the Eastern Conference (if not the league) Tueday night in Columbus. They came out victorious in both games. Two games, two heavy-weights defeated. No one can deny, at this point, that the Blue Jackets are not a team to be reckoned with heading into the home-stretch of the playoff race. With 15 games remaining, they have only to go 8-7 to garner 90 points; which should be good enough for a playoff berth. With five teams within four points going into Tuesdays game, the West is as tight as it has been for weeks. This race will obviously come down to the last week of the season.
There is a reason that Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason is known as “Stonewall”. He recorded his franchise tying 9th shutout of the season against the Bruins. He was “HUGE” in the net, making beautiful saves to keep the Jackets in the game. It was a match-up of two of the best goalies in the league, with Mason coming out on top. Masons record against the Eastern Conference this season is eye-opening: 10-1-0, six shutouts, .968 Save% and a 0.93 GAA. He has now tied Marc Denis franchise record with 27 wins (2002-2003) and tied Pascal LeClaires record for shutouts from last season with 9. For a twenty year-old “kid”, he plays with what coach Ken Hitchcock says is “goalie sense”; in other words, he plays with the savviness of a veteran goal tender, rarely (if ever) getting rattled. Columbus has ridden their rookie goalie this far; is a trip to the playoffs too much to ask? With what he’s done for this team, there’s no wonder he’s known as “Stonewall” not to mention “Masonwide” (after Nationwide Arena). Seeming to be a lock for the Calder, his name should be given serious consideration for the Vezina.
The march to the playoffs has arrived with a vengeance in Columbus and the Blue Jackets are playing with a focus and drive seldom before seen in this city. Led by their captain Rick Nash, they are proving to the non-believers that the playoffs are about to be a reality in Cowtown. For that, they deserve all the credit and respect the rest of the league and fans have to give them.
Carry The Flag!!!