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Mason ready to get back in Columbus goal, Blue Jackets less ready

Columbus Blue Jackets v Detroit Red Wings

DETROIT, MI - FEBRUARY 4: Steve Mason #1 of the Columbus Blue Jackets gets set to face one of the shots in a shut-out against the Detroit Red Wings on February 4, 2011 at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. The Blue Jackets defeated the Wings 3-0. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Claus Andersen

Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason has been cleared to return to action after missing three games with a head injury.

Now the question is what to do with him.

Curtis Sanford, the 32-year-old journeyman that last played in the NHL in 2009, has stepped in and provided Columbus with its most solid goaltending of the year. He’s 3-1-2 with a 1.38 goals-against average and .947 save percentage.

“He’s not all over the place,” said Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel (in what was either praise for Sanford or condemnation of Mason -- you decide!) “He’s compact. He faces the shooter and prepares himself for the next rebound and that next chance. He’s not a guy who expends a ton of energy by flying all over the place.”

Another positive for Sanford is the Jackets seemingly play better in front of him than Mason. Inexplicable, but the numbers confirm -- Columbus earned its only winning-streak of the year with Sanford in goal and secured at least a point in all but one of his games played.

So, consider the situation. Mason’s been very bad, Sanford’s been very good. Arniel’s job has been on the line for weeks, the BJs are desperate for wins and throughout the league, teams are riding their backups with great success (see: Cory Schneider in Vancouver, Brian Elliott in St. Louis and Josh Harding in Minnesota.)

What would you do?