Aug 20, 2014, 1:55 PM EDT
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.
Apr 26, 2015, 9:12 PM EDT
Montreal will now play either Detroit or Tampa Bay.
Apr 26, 2015, 8:17 PM EDT
Oshie thinks the core has “been playing some pretty good games since the playoffs.”
Apr 26, 2015, 7:42 PM EDT
Montreal had a 1-0 lead at the time.
Apr 26, 2015, 6:58 PM EDT
They got a big task ahead of them.
Apr 26, 2015, 6:20 PM EDT
Habs and Wild look to advance with Game 6 wins.
Apr 26, 2015, 6:18 PM EDT
Minnesota’s earned the right to challenge Chicago again.
Apr 26, 2015, 5:45 PM EDT
He’ll undergo further testing in the not too distant future.
Apr 26, 2015, 4:58 PM EDT
Brian Elliott is on in relief.
Apr 26, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT
That’s one Allen has to have.
Apr 26, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT
He suffered two concussions this season.
Apr 26, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT
The newly appointed Edmonton executive is already busy in his new role.
Apr 26, 2015, 1:15 PM EDT
Eric Fehr would be ready for the second round.
Apr 26, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT
Philly fired Craig Berube on April 17.
Apr 26, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT
He last played at the 2006 tournament.
Apr 26, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT
He didn’t play the second half of Friday night’s win.
Apr 26, 2015, 11:15 AM EDT
Chorney and Dumoulin could also head back to Wilkes-Barre for their playoff run.
Apr 26, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT
He’s been a healthy scratch for three games.
Apr 26, 2015, 9:45 AM EDT
Blues and Sens need wins to force Game 7
Apr 26, 2015, 12:07 AM EDT
Another big rally at the Saddledome.
Apr 25, 2015, 11:03 PM EDT
A six-game series that felt like (at least) seven.
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- Video: Fast whistle costs Senators potentially critical goal 10
- WATCH LIVE: Today’s Stanley Cup playoff action 3
- Another Blues campaign ends in disappoint as Wild advance 80
- Crosby joining Team Canada at Worlds 16
- Here’s your Stanley Cup playoff TV schedule for today 12
- One more time, with feeling: Flames stage yet another comeback, eliminate Vancouver 25
- Keith conquers: Blackhawks come back, eliminate Predators 49
- Red Wings smother Lightning, take 3-2 series lead 23
- Going the distance: Isles edge Caps to force Game 7 43
- Too little, too late: Rangers stifle Penguins for 2-1 series lead (114)
- It’s Done: Rangers eliminate Penguins in overtime (108)
- Bettman under fire after saying ‘Katy Perry’ chant wasn’t sexist (92)
- Okposo blasts ‘idiot’ Wilson after physical outing versus Isles (82)
- Another Blues campaign ends in disappoint as Wild advance (80)