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The Masked Man You may not recognize him, but Mighty Ducks goalie Jean- Sebastien Giguere has become a star

In the midst of a shutout streak that would last 237 minutes and
seven seconds, Anaheim Mighty Ducks goaltender Jean-Sebastien
Giguere and a dozen teammates spent an afternoon last month
visiting patients at the UC Irvine Medical Center. While Giguere
distributed Ducks dolls and slippers to children in the cancer
ward and paused to chat with parents, a young woman emerged from
the nurses' station with a copy of The Orange County Register.
The sports section had a photo of an Anaheim goalie splashed
across the front page, and the nurse timidly asked Giguere for an
autograph. He smiled and signed the picture, even though it was a
photograph of backup Jean-Francois Damphousse.

The remarkable run in net--his shutout streak was the NHL's
longest since 1950--hasn't made the 25-year-old Giguere a
familiar face, but he deserves to be recognized. Through
Saturday, he was 15-14-4 with a .912 save percentage and was tied
for the league lead with five shutouts. In his first season as
Anaheim's undisputed starter, Giguere has backed up his largely
unnoticed breakout performance of last season, when his 2.13
goals-against average and .920 save percentage for the last-place
Ducks were fifth in the league.

Giguere, who was selected 13th by the Hartford Whalers in the
1995 draft, was expected to succeed in the NHL sooner. After
playing only eight games for Hartford, he was traded to the
Calgary Flames in '97. Instead of winning the No. 1 job, however,
he was inconsistent and shuttled between Calgary and the minors.
In all, he played just 22 NHL games over two seasons for the
Flames and regressed technically. "I was left on my own, and
that's not good when you're a young guy," he says about the
team's lack of a goalie coach. "You don't always know when you're
making mistakes, and you start getting bad habits, and when
things don't go well, you get down on yourself. Calgary gave me a
chance and I wasn't ready."

Giguere's fortunes changed when he was acquired by the Ducks in
June 2000. Anaheim goaltending consultant Francois Allaire
simplified his technique, helping Giguere better read passes and
urging patience in dropping into the butterfly. Those adjustments
improved Giguere's game and restored his confidence.

This season, Allaire has stressed side-to-side mobility and
rebound control, and has instructed Giguere to freeze the puck
whenever possible. Goalies have been known to go halfheartedly at
practice, but Giguere sees those sessions as essential
laboratories for skill development. "He's one of the
hardest-working practice players on this team," says winger Paul
Kariya, "and he lets me know when he stops my shot."

Before his Dec. 15 shutout of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Giguere
found a picture of himself at age 7, taken with Mario Lemieux
during a chance encounter, and had an equipment staffer bring it
to the Penguins' dressing room for an autograph. It was a
reminder of the humility he retains from his working-class
childhood in Montreal, where he and his four older siblings had
paper routes to pay for hockey equipment, and his father, Claude,
a prison guard, sometimes took out loans to pay for goalie gear.
"My parents didn't want to deprive me," Giguere says. "I don't
think they figured I would be in the NHL. They just wanted me to
have fun."

COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT LABERGE/GETTY IMAGES BLANKED LOOK Giguere is tied for the league lead in shutouts, with five.


A Goalie-Rich Draft

Besides Giguere, here are the eight other netminders chosen in
1995 who are playing in the NHL (career statistics through last


Martin Biron 16 66-73-18 2.39 .909
Solid as Dominik Hasek's replacement last year but has regressed;
battling to retain the No. 1 job

Brian Boucher 22 56-51-18 2.58 .900
Rookie season with Flyers in 2000 was excellent; stumbled as
Phoenix backup while Sean Burke was injured

Marc Denis 25 41-75-17 2.95 .905
Blue Jackets
Has kept Columbus in games while handling most minutes (2,443)
and shots (1,300) in league this season

Jean-Sebastien Aubin 76 55-63-11 2.91 .900
After consecutive 20-win seasons, he's now a backup; had just
eight victories since the start of last season

Sebastien Charpentier 93 4-5-1 2.60 .921
Solid numbers but he isn't expected to see much action behind
workhorse standout Olaf Kolzig

Miikka Kiprusoff 116 12-12-3 2.84 .894
Flopped during Evgeni Nabokov's early-season holdout; struggling
with 3.77 goals-against average

Brent Johnson 129 63-35-8 2.16 .906
Starter for a Stanley Cup contender; had 10 straight victories
and three playoff shutouts last spring

Zac Bierk 212 5-11-3 3.51 .893
Journeyman is a backup; made 40 saves and blanked the Blackhawks
last week in first start of season