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Pressing question: Will Philly get the goaltending?

Apr 15, 2014, 6:55 PM EDT

Steve Mason, Ray Emery AP

One of PHT’s 10 pressing questions in advance of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs…

Heading into the Flyers-Rangers series, most pundits gave Henrik Lundqvist the edge in goal over Steve Mason.

Assuming Mason would be in goal, mind you.

That’s the big issue facing the Flyers right now, as Mason barely practiced on Tuesday amid reports he’s still feeling the effects of a collision during Saturday’s game against the Pens — putting his availability for Thursday’s series-opening game at MSG into question.

“I feel better each day and we’ll see how I feel [Wednesday],” Mason said after following Tuesday’s skate, via the Flyers public relations department.

He didn’t meet with reporters.

The injury situation added a deeper layer to the goaltending narrative. Yes, Mason had a very solid regular season and yes, he tied his career high with 33 wins and yes, he recorded a career-best .917 save percentage — he was quite good. But the last time he was also “quite good” was in 2008-09, the year he set all those personal bests and, not coincidentally, made his first and only playoff appearance.

Problem was, that ’09 postseason wasn’t kind for Mason or his former team, the Columbus Blue Jackets. Mason finished the series with an ugly .878 save percentage and 4.27 goals against average as the Jackets were swept by Detroit. It marked the beginning of Mason’s downward spiral in Columbus, one that finally ended upon being acquired by Philadelphia at last year’s deadline.

Despite his turnaround with the Flyers, some were still skeptical of his ability to carry the load — and that was before the injury issue.

Speaking of that injury, we’re not entirely sure what to make of it, but it’s worth noting Mason’s suffered two previous head injuries in the last three years. In 2011, he took a puck to the head in practice and proceeded to miss three games; a year later, the same sort of incident sidelined Mason for three more games late in the season.

Which brings us to Ray Emery.

The 31-year-old journeyman was a clear-cut No. 2 in Philly this year, making 28 appearances to Mason’s 61. Yet there’s something to be said for how much Emery played and the role he filled — heck, Wayne Simmonds believes the beating Emery put on Washington’s Braden Holtby back in November helped turn Philly’s season around.

All told, Emery finished with pedestrian numbers (9-12-2, 2.96 GAA, .903 save percentage), but does boast a pretty extensive postseason resume. In 2007 he backstopped Ottawa to the Stanley Cup Final and in 2011, was Anaheim’s No. 1 in a six-game opening-round loss to Nashville. Last season he won a Cup with Chicago, but failed to make a single postseason appearance.

So, back to the original pressing question — will the Flyers get the goaltending? Let’s put it this way. Given they only managed to score six goals on Lundqvist all season, they’re going to need it. If they do get it, it’ll probably have to come from Mason and for that to happen, Mason’s going to have to be healthy.

That’s a lot of convoluted ifs, but hey…it’s goaltending in Philly. Nothing’s ever simple or easy.

For more Pressing Playoff Questions, click here.

  1. elmerbrownelmerbrown - Apr 15, 2014 at 6:58 PM

    No,, we have not gotten goaltending in the playoffs since 1987

    • fortarnold - Apr 15, 2014 at 7:29 PM

      Poor Brian Boucher was pretty good in 2000. It’s not his fault they couldn’t muster up more than one goal in games 6 & 7 versus New Jersey.

      • narfmoo12 - Apr 15, 2014 at 7:42 PM

        Cechmanek and Esche were good too

      • fortarnold - Apr 15, 2014 at 8:02 PM

        Cechmanek was great in the regular season but was too much of a head case in the post season. When have you ever heard of teammates blaming a goaltender with a .936 save percentage for losing a series?

  2. bleedrangerblue - Apr 15, 2014 at 7:30 PM

    Henrik! Henrik!! Nope goaltending has been an issue with the flyers for a while. Look forward to the Rangers beating those scumbags!!

    • broadstreetbeatdown - Apr 15, 2014 at 10:34 PM

      Looking forward to Lundy’s next choke job.

  3. bleedrangerblue - Apr 15, 2014 at 7:51 PM

    Pelle Lindbergh

    • fortarnold - Apr 15, 2014 at 8:00 PM

      Pelle Lindbergh last played in 1986 prior to Hextall’s run against Edmonton.

    • phillyphanatic77 - Apr 15, 2014 at 8:51 PM

      There better be no negative connotation meant in posting the great Pelle Lindbergh’s name here. The man would’ve been the Lundqvist of the 80s. RIP.

  4. crazemastercraze - Apr 15, 2014 at 7:56 PM

    Philly goaltenders have it worse than the drummers of Spinal Tap

  5. stakex - Apr 15, 2014 at 7:58 PM

    Actually I think the last part of this story presents a much better question…. it shouldn’t be can the Flyers get goaltending, but can they get offense? No one would mistake the Flyers as a team that wins with good defense and goaltending (they’re 20th in goals allowed)… they win with offense. The problem there is that the Rangers have been very tough to score on during the playoffs over the last two seasons, and there isn’t much reason the think that’s going to change. Even if the Flyers get solid goaltending, it won’t be enough if they can’t get past Lundqvist and the Rangers defense.

    • cofran2004 - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:50 AM

      And whats scary is that for the most part the defense has still been good under vigneault, and the offense finally has some teeth. True… those teeth aren’t as sharp as those of the flyers’ offense, but they don’t have to be. They just have to be sharp enough to draw more blood than the flyers, and the rangers have thicker armor.

      Wow… watched and read too much Game of Thrones. Can ya tell?

  6. sndflyers - Apr 15, 2014 at 8:02 PM

    Mason will be ready hopefully sooner than later. Until then, I trust Ray Emery he has played well this year, he played well last year for Chicago he’s experienced and the guys like playing for him. Not to mention that just a few years ago we were playing Brian Bucher and Micheal Leighton. Surely he is an upgrade over them. We will be fine.

  7. flyboystransport - Apr 15, 2014 at 8:19 PM

    Boucher and leighton got the flyers to a cup so why do people complain about them? Discipline is what will win or lose this series for the flyers.

    • sndflyers - Apr 15, 2014 at 9:11 PM

      Agreed. My point was essentially that. We played well with lesser players back stopping us. If we play well it will be a non issue

  8. kastout11 - Apr 15, 2014 at 8:41 PM

    I think they might keep Mason out of games 1 & 2 in MSG and Hope for a split and hopefully he will be ready for a game 3 in Philly in about a week.

  9. blomfeld - Apr 15, 2014 at 8:54 PM

    HAS MAN BEEN TO MARS ?

  10. chrisk61 - Apr 15, 2014 at 9:32 PM

    king hank the wanker couldn’t win the shootout vs the flyers at end of 2010 reg season and cost nyr a playoff birth. then in 2011 nyr were loaded but he came up small in ecf vs njd. lundqvist with a V mind you is overrated.

    prediction: emery starts gm 1 and wins. and berube keeps playing him til he loses. and he musters a bit of a win streak.

    the key to this series actually won’t be goaltending. it will be whether flyers group of forward can be effective and score or get shut down by good nyr defense. it’s gonna be a long series.

    • cofran2004 - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:53 AM

      He wasnt “ineffective” against the devils. That was the rangers offense. Try again, tool.

  11. mangoman1966 - Apr 15, 2014 at 11:33 PM

    Who would be the backup goalie if mason can’t go.

    • cofran2004 - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:55 AM

      I’d imagine it’d be Cal Heeter, though after his shaky-at-best NHL debut, I wouldn’t rule out Carson Chubak from the Phantoms. He’s played pretty well down in the AHL the past few days since Heeter was called up.

  12. toiletclown - Apr 16, 2014 at 8:23 AM

    2 suspect goalies on 1 team. Rangers will win in 5. Stamp it

    • cofran2004 - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:57 AM

      To thumb up or down? On the one hand, I’m a rangers fan and hope you’re right. On the other, I think you’re an insufferable toolbag, and hope you get hit by a train. Then hit by a train again for good measure.

      Ugh… decisions decisions.

      • cantstandstupid - Apr 16, 2014 at 11:38 AM

        Best comment I read all day!

        Go Flyers!!!

      • cofran2004 - Apr 16, 2014 at 12:05 PM

        We may not agree on teams, but I think we can all agree that toiletclown should have been swallowed.

    • coopjr - Apr 16, 2014 at 11:05 AM

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