After watching, Mason gets a chance to start

It’s been fun to watch, but Chris Mason is eager to get back in goal and contribute to the recent success of the Thrashers.

Mason will start Saturday night at the New York Islanders, the second of back-to-back games this weekend. It will be his first start in 12 games, with the very effective Ondrej Pavelec starting the last 11. The Thrashers had won eight of the past nine heading into Friday’s game against Colorado. Over the past 10 starts entering Friday, Pavelec was 8-2, had allowed 13 goals, recorded two shutouts and stopped 312 of 325 shots (.960 save percentage).

“I’m excited,” Mason said. “Obviously when the team is playing well and you are winning hockey games, you want to get back in there and play. The way Pavs is playing, there is no way you can take him out of the net. We are here to win and when you’ve got a guy playing like that, you’ve got to play him. I’ve been in the situation on both sides of it before. It’s been really fun watching, but at the same time you want to be in there and help the team out.”

Mason was pulled in his previous two starts after allowing four goals each against Ottawa on Nov. 9 and Washington on Nov. 14. The veteran goaltender insists that’s ancient history.

“It’s so long ago, it’s not in my mind anymore,” Mason said. “That’s the one thing I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older. Those experiences, you have to let go. If you keep thinking about it, it will eat you up. To be honest, I haven’t thought about that in the day or two after. I’ve been more focused on game situations in practice, keeping my conditioning level up, things like that. I just want to be ready when I do get back in there. You can’t afford to get back in there and be average. I want to play well and do everything I can to make that happen.”

With a busy December schedule, which includes nine games in 14 days leading up to the two-day holiday break, Mason will be counted on, according to coach Craig Ramsay.

Productive line

Rich Peverley has been getting chances and the Thrashers center is making the most of them.

Peverley is fourth on the team in scoring with 18 points. He has six points (four goals, two assists) in the past seven games, entering Friday night.

Part of Peverley’s recent success can be attributed to his linemates. The trio of Peverley, Andrew Ladd and Niclas Bergfors has been together for several weeks. In addition to Peverley, Ladd is second on the team in scoring (28 points) and Bergfors (17 points) is fifth.

“I think it’s been a benefit to everybody,” Peverley said of the steady line combinations. “We are all finding our way with our linemates. Some guys get chemistry right off the bat. Some guys, it just takes a little bit of time. Obviously it’s working because we are winning games.”

Not a standings watcher

Ramsay says he doesn’t pay much attention to the standings. If that's the case, he’s missing quite a race.

Going into Friday’s NHL schedule, the Thrashers were tied with Tampa Bay for seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 33 points. They trailed Boston and the New York Rangers by two points. Maybe more importantly, the Thrashers have a five-point lead over ninth place Buffalo.

“You shouldn’t be looking ahead,” Ramsay said. “For me, I’m not much for looking behind. The three-point games throughout the league make such a difference in the total number of points that you have to accumulate over the course of the season. This makes it very difficult. Every night, if you pay attention, someone is tying a game late and getting the extra point in overtime. I think it’s really vital for us that we just focus on each game that comes up. If we take care of ourselves, then the rest of it will take care of itself.”

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