Aug 20, 2014, 1:55 PM EST
The 2013-14 campaign was very, very good to Steve Mason.
Aside from getting his career as a bonafide No. 1 netminder back on track, the performance also netted him a handsome three-year, $12.3 million deal — one that pays $4.1M annually — and cemented him as Philly’s go-to guy for the foreseeable future.
“If you look at this season in a nutshell, he was good when the team was real bad early in the year,” then-Flyers GM Paul Holmgren said of the deal. “And the last little while, as the team’s gotten better, I think Steve has played up and down a little bit. We expect him to get better over the next three-plus years with the team and grow with the team.
“He’s a good goalie, and we believe he’s going to get better. That’s why we did what we did.”
That last part is key. The Flyers expect Mason to get better over the life of his contract and next year, the first of the extension, he’ll probably need to be.
Defensively, Philly has some red flags. The club finished 20th in the NHL in goals allowed (2.77 GAA), led the league in penalty minutes and was shorthanded the second-most times (316), second only to Ottawa. While the Flyers’ solid penalty kill bailed them out routinely — the PK finished seventh in the NHL last year, at 84.8 percent — a couple of key performers from the unit are now out of action: Kimmo Timonen (blood clots) and Adam Hall (signed in Switzerland), who finished third and fourth on the team in total shorthanded TOI last season.
Timonen’s unavailability also accentuates Philly’s issues on D.
There are two significant problems: 1) the group doesn’t feature a clear-cut No. 1, “stud” that most elite teams tend to employ, and 2) it doesn’t have a ton of depth. Prior to signing Michael Del Zotto, Philly was looking at a top-six comprised of Mark Streit, Andrew MacDonald, Braydon Coburn, Luke Schenn, Nicklas Grossmann and Nick Schultz. Del Zotto helps the depth out a bit, and the Flyers will pray their health on the back end mirrors last year’s (it doesn’t garner a lot of attention, but Philly’s blueline went almost injury-free last season. Streit, Coburn, Schenn, Timonen and Grossman combined to miss just 12 games.)
Hextall is trying to look at the situation optimistically as well.
“I like our defense,” he said, per NJ.com. “I’ve said it time and time again. We maybe don’t have that top guy, that No. 1 guy, but probably 20 teams in the league say the same thing. We’re going to go with the guys we’ve got.”
All of this, of course, circles back to Mason. As the last line of defense, he fared well last year and shone in his first playoff action in five years, posting a .939 save percentage over the final five games of Philly’s opening-round loss to the Rangers. But now, he’ll need to show year-to-year consistency — something that was an issue in Columbus — and carry the weight of expectation. When he arrived in Philly, Mason was a reclamation project playing on a cheap deal. Now, he’s one of the NHL’s 20 highest-paid goalies and will be looked upon to backstop the Flyers into a second straight postseason.
The last time Mason faced similar expectations was as a Blue Jacket, following a rookie year in which he won the Calder and finished second in Vezina voting. Things went south after that, and the Flyers hope they’re not in line for a repeat performance.
Mar 1, 2015, 10:17 AM EST
Three of his season’s six goals came in the last three games.
Mar 1, 2015, 9:35 AM EST
The first-round pick was a little too rich, it seems.
Mar 1, 2015, 1:37 AM EST
They’ll play again on March 8.
Mar 1, 2015, 1:03 AM EST
San Jose completed its disastrous month with a loss to Ottawa.
Mar 1, 2015, 12:42 AM EST
In other words, he’s probably not going to be dealt before the trade deadline.
Feb 28, 2015, 11:52 PM EST
The Coyotes might not be done dealing yet.
Feb 28, 2015, 11:11 PM EST
Steve Mason was solid in his first start since undergoing knee surgery.
Feb 28, 2015, 10:41 PM EST
He’s continuing to make his case for the art Trophy.
Feb 28, 2015, 10:12 PM EST
Chicago also added Kimmo Timonen on Friday.
Feb 28, 2015, 9:24 PM EST
Stakes are high for Philadelphia after Boston and Florida won.
Feb 28, 2015, 8:50 PM EST
His leadership and the confidence that he brings might provide Florida with a big boost.
Feb 28, 2015, 8:24 PM EST
Arizona is threatening to drop to 29th in the NHL, which would be big as far as the draft lottery is concerned.
Feb 28, 2015, 7:51 PM EST
Philadelphia is trying to salvage its bid for a playoff spot.
Feb 28, 2015, 7:37 PM EST
A recent report suggests that Boston is interested.
Feb 28, 2015, 6:55 PM EST
He’s been released from the hospital.
Feb 28, 2015, 6:02 PM EST
Alexey Marchenko scored his first career goal.
Feb 28, 2015, 5:34 PM EST
That gives some teams extra roster flexibility.
Feb 28, 2015, 4:45 PM EST
Was injured on a hit from Seth Jones.
Feb 28, 2015, 4:15 PM EST
He’s been the subject of trade rumors lately.
Feb 28, 2015, 3:35 PM EST
News and notes from around the blue paint…
- Flyers keep faint playoff hopes alive with win over Rangers 24
- Trade: Blackhawks acquire Vermette from Arizona for Dahlbeck, first rounder 54
- Jagr earns high praise in his Panthers debut 1
- Bruins maintain four-point edge in playoff race, hand Coyotes ninth straight loss 5
- NHL on NBC: Rangers look for a fourth straight win against the Flyers 7
- Ducks score four third-period goals, come back to beat rival Kings 9
- Blackhawks aren’t done talking trades, will look to add another forward 13
- Flyers trade Kimmo Timonen to Blackhawks 40
- Video: Couture fined $5K for slew-footing Smith 22
- Time to start winning — Bruins’ next four games are against non-playoff teams 17
- Petrovic: Chicago will ‘probably seek revenge’ for Kane injury tonight (82)
- Report: Alex Petrovic avoids discipline after injuring Patrick Kane (69)
- Trading baggage: Blue Jackets grab Clarkson, send Horton’s contract to Leafs (66)
- Lindros files $3M defamation lawsuit against ex-referee Stewart (Updated: Now $250K) (65)
- The plummeting Coyotes are threatening to fall below the Oilers into 29th place (55)