• July 3, 2022

Despite Record, Steve Mason Off to Solid Start for Flyers

2014_Mason_IslandersThe 2013-14 NHL season previews for the Philadelphia Flyers seemed to have missed the part where the team looks disorganized and undisciplined on a nightly basis.

It also missed the part where Steve Mason would be the Flyers’ MVP nearly one month into the season.

Most previews questioned just how strong a tandem of Mason and Ray Emery would be for the Flyers. A number of the larger media outlets predicted Emery would win the job out of camp based on his experience and Mason’s unpredictability.

Emery, though, has only seen two starts to date; a 4-1 loss against the Montreal Canadiens and a 5-2 loss against the Detroit Red Wings.

For all of the questions surrounding Mason’s optimistic bid for rejuvenating his career, I don’t know anyone that expected it to go this smoothly.

Mason currently ranks 6th in goals-against average and save percentage among NHL goaltenders with at least eight games played. Ignore any restrictions on games played and he ranks 15th overall.

Some of the goalies ahead of him include Antti Niemi (9-1-1), Semyon Varlamov (6-1-0), Josh Harding (5-2-0), Carey Price (5-5-0) and Craig Anderson (4-2-2).

Mason, by comparison, has just a 3-5-0 record. He’s the only goalie on this list that isn’t at 0.500 yet, but it’s not for lack of trying.

If the offense wasn’t as anemic as it had been over the first ten games, Mason’s name may have come up more in water cooler discussions than it has of late. Even with a hat trick from Vincent Lecavalier against the New York Islanders on Saturday night, the Flyers still rank 28th in the league in goals per game (1.80).

Part of Mason’s recent success may have been a simple mental approach that goaltending coach Jeff Reese suggested to Mason early on in his Flyers’ tenure. Per Dave Isaac of the Courier-Post:

“Flyers goalie coach Jeff Reese instilled in him to take the game in segments divided by TV timeouts.

‘I find it’s more manageable that way,’ said Mason, who has been the best Flyer this year with a 2.02 goals-against average and .935 save percentage. ‘You have your seven minutes of focus and then you go to the bench and kind of get your drink and what not and focus after that.’ “

There are a number of goaltenders that would seem to be available via trade if the Flyers were so inclined, including Anaheim Ducks’ impending free agent Jonas Hiller. Goaltending has not, astonishingly, been the issue in Philadelphia, though.

For all of the criticism directed towards general manager Paul Holmgren (and yes, it is warranted) for the team’s lackluster start, give him credit for taking the gamble that Mason just needed a fresh start. It’s only one month into the season, and anything can happen between now and April to wash away all of the optimism surrounding the 25 year-old netminder, but the gamble has certainly been paying off in the short-term.

Josh Janet

Josh Janet was raised in Northern New Jersey, but by an odd set of circumstances, is a Philadelphia sports fan. While recently converted to the Phillies, Josh is a diehard Flyers fan and can be expected to stay on top of the latest NHL news.

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  • I agree, Mason is a pleasant surprise.

  • I’m glad to see Mark Streit and Lecavalier on the first power play, I still don’t understand why it took so long. They should have been day one first team power play guys.

  • I agree Eagles. Gotta have your most skilled players on PP. Vinny was made to play on the PP.

    As far as Mason goes, he has played great so far. If he continues at this pace, then I have no issue with him staying here. One less thing to worry about considering all of the other problems that they have.

  • Mason is not the problem…He has been solid.

    The problem is re-establishing a team identity, and Berube instilling some confidence in these guys.

    They have Giroux, LeCavalier, Cotourier, Schenn, Voracek, Simmonds, Read and a host of talented players…The same guys who whipped the Penguins ass in the playoffs the year before last…The same guys, but the identity has been stripped.

    Defense remains a problem, and, also, the ability to play full a 60 minutes a night.

    • They cannot transition from DEfense to Offense without Skilled and Talented Defensemen which has been the Problem for Years with this Club.. They have to remain disciplined and focused to play a chug and grind it out type of Game and I see a lack of mental toughness with this Team Collectively

      • paulman
        October 28, 2013 – 4:26 pm

        “They cannot transition from defense to offense without skilled and talented Defensemen which has been the problem for years with this club.. They have to remain disciplined and focused to play a chug and grind it out type of Game and I see a lack of mental toughness with this team collectively.”

        I can’t even remember their last really mobile paring…Pronger and Timonen were effective, but not really mobile guys (Timonen, yeah).

        • You probably have to sadly go back to Mark Howe and that was 20 + Years ago.. Pronger when he was younger with the ST Louis Blues could Transition pretty well also, It’s a shame but Pronger was already a shell of himself by the time the Flyers Signed him.. his best years were way past him by th time how wore the Orange & Black, was still agood Player, but not th great Player he was when he was Younger..

  • Pronged was solid for us, first year Stanley cup finals with no goalie. Our d is actually been surprisenly steady. If they powerplay heats up they will start winning a lot of games. I still say this team gets to the playoffs if the team wants to play for chief.

  • Hell, Paulman is going back to Mark Howe and Brad McCrimmon…That WAS a hell of a defensive combo: they were great in transition and could score and move.

    Eric DeJardins was probably the last really great transition defenseman we had.

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