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.
May 23, 2015, 11:45 AM EDT
A formal announcement could come as early as next week.
May 23, 2015, 10:40 AM EDT
He’ll serve as an assistant to GM Don Maloney.
May 23, 2015, 9:43 AM EDT
He would be eligible for this year’s draft, if he doesn’t come to terms by June 1.
May 23, 2015, 12:26 AM EDT
But will it last?
May 22, 2015, 11:42 PM EDT
Kucherov, Paquette, and Glass all receive misconduct penalties.
May 22, 2015, 11:10 PM EDT
The score was one-sided, but this game could have gone the other way if not for the Rangers’ netminder.
May 22, 2015, 10:40 PM EDT
Leon Draisaitl’s late goal can’t turn the tide.
May 22, 2015, 9:53 PM EDT
Keith Yandle got his first marker of the playoffs.
May 22, 2015, 9:04 PM EDT
Will we see more goals like that from him before the playoffs are over?
May 22, 2015, 8:08 PM EDT
All three of their teams are still in the running for the Stanley Cup.
May 22, 2015, 7:35 PM EDT
San Jose has been linked to several high profile coaches.
May 22, 2015, 6:31 PM EDT
He was credited with turning around the Red Wings’ power play.
May 22, 2015, 6:01 PM EDT
Will New York be able to contain Tampa Bay this time around?
May 22, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT
“No one wants to back up. Everyone wants to play.”
May 22, 2015, 4:34 PM EDT
Not only did the Ducks block 27 shots last night, they clogged up the neutral zone too.
May 22, 2015, 3:25 PM EDT
Can’t imagine Teuvo Teravainen was, either.
May 22, 2015, 2:24 PM EDT
Canucks GM witnessed the goalie get a shutout in the AHL playoffs.
May 22, 2015, 1:41 PM EDT
Coach Q: “He’ll need a few days out here. We’ll get an evaluation and go from there.”
May 22, 2015, 1:38 PM EDT
Son of ex-NHLer Brian is off to Boston University next year.
May 22, 2015, 1:05 PM EDT
“It’s been real special, to say the least.”
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