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We all know the Steve Mason story. The 2009 Calder Trophy winner who quickly came back to Earth with a pair of sub-par seasons following his fantastic rookie campaign. And then there's this season where, along with his teammates, things have continued on a downward spiral for Mason, who sports a 12-22-3 record with a 3.28 goals-against average and .894 save percentage.
But have we seen the end of Bad Steve Mason? After having not won consecutive starts since February of last season, Mason has been victorious in five of his last six, including four in a row.
What could be credited for his sudden turnaround? His goalie pads.
Before the 2010-11 season, the NHL and its competition committee agreed to having all goalie equipment form-fitted to the size of each netminder. That information never got to the 6-foot-4 Mason. No, really, it didn't. Everything he was wearing was undersized by NHL regulations.
Last month, Mason and Blue Jackets goaltending coach Ian Clark overhauled his equipment because what he was playing in was smaller than what he could have been using.
From the Columbus Dispatch's Shawn Mitchell:
"I never knew I could," Mason said. "If I knew, I would have done it three years ago. I guess I was a little out of the loop on that kind of stuff. But we'll make it work now."
Better late than never, right?
Mason still has a year left on his deal before he becomes a restricted free agent next summer. He's missed the last three games with a lacerated hand but should feature in one of Columbus' two games this weekend, according to Blue Jackets interim head coach Todd Richards.
As Mitchell notes, Mason's first game with the new gear was Feb. 11, and since then he's gone 7-3-1, with a 2.67 GAA and .922 save percentage. Not out-of-this-world numbers for a goaltender, but for the 23-year-old Mason it's a major turnaround.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy