Record: 52 – 20 – 10
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Steve Mason returned to Winnipeg on Saturday for medical follow-up after continuing to feel unwell while on the road with the Jets.
For the second straight night, the veteran goalie was replaced on the bench by AHL call-up Michael Hutchinson, while Connor Hellebuyck started against the Minnesota Wild.
Mason took a shot high during Friday’s morning skate at United Centre and told the club he wasn’t feeling well. Jets head coach Paul Maurice said after the skate he wasn’t sure if that had anything to do with the netminder’s condition.
Hellebuyck was between the pipes in a 2-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks and returned to the crease Saturday in rare back-to-back starts against a pair of Central Division foes.
Mason missed seven games earlier this season with a suspected concussion after taking a shot to the mask in San Jose on Nov. 25.
Maurice said Saturday the club just wants to be cautious.
Meanwhile, winger Shawn Matthias suffered an upper-body injury Friday and was sidelined in Minnesota. In his place, Brendan Lemieux slotted in on the fourth line with centre Matt Hendricks and right-winger Jack Roslovic.
Hutchinson, 27, has had a terrific season with the Manitoba Moose, posting a 14-2-4 record. He leads the AHL with a .942 save percentage and is third with a 1.94 goals-against average. He was also the league’s goalie for the months of November and December.
The former Boston draft choice has played in 99 games (41-38-11) over parts of four seasons for the Jets, but was the odd man out when Mason was signed July 1 as a free agent.
Maurice said Hutchinson has demonstrated tremendous resolve since the demotion in training camp.
"He’s gone down and been a star in that league and performed, which means he’s prepared well, he’s practised well, his mind’s right," Maurice said. "He’d much rather, I’m sure, just like every single one of those guys, be in the NHL. But he’s done what he needed to do to be the guy called up, and then to get his chance, potentially, down the road.
"He feels confident that if he gets into a game, he’s got something to prove."
The Jets begin their bye week today and don’t skate until Friday, a day before they play the Flames in Calgary.
Assistant sports editor
Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).