It wasn't Scott Arniel's most articulate answer, but the ambiguous words seemed a precise fit for the puzzling subject.

With a month remaining in the regular season, the Blue Jackets first-year coach was asked yesterday if he knew what he had in goaltender Steve Mason.

"Kinda, sorta," Arniel said smiling.

When it comes to the Jackets' third-year goalie, there aren't many definitive statements that can be made.

Mason helped return the Jackets to playoff contention by compiling a 7-1 record with a 1.75 goals-against average and .942 save percentage from Feb. 4-25. He has looked like anything but a franchise goalie in his past four starts, however, struggling in two shootout losses, being pulled after 21 minutes against Edmonton and allowing several soft goals in the stretch.

In other words, Mason, 22, is still dealing with the inconsistencies that have mystified observers both within and outside the organization since his remarkable rookie season.