Flyers Game Day News and Notes: The Skating Wounded and the Relentless Pursuit of Tired Criticisms

Flyers Game Day News and Notes: The Skating Wounded and the Relentless Pursuit of Tired Criticisms

No matter which reports you believe, it's good to hear that injured forwards Jeff Carter and Ian Laperriere are increasingly healthy. Most seem to agree that Lappy could return soon, including Paul Holmgren, who yesterday put his timetable ahead of that of Carter. CSN sources today have game 4 as a possible return date. My take is you may as well be reading tea leaves if you want to know the status of an injured player in the NHL playoffs. 

Lappy has been cleared for contact and has skated, albeit while wearing a helmet with added padding and a face shield. (No it isn't the one at the left, but it's hard to believe we've had two different major facial injuries with which to use that gag pic of Lappy this season.) An interesting question emerges if and when Carter and Laperriere are ready to play again—who gets scratched? Andreas Nodl has stepped up nicely on the fourth line, but I think it's fairly obvious he gets to watch from the press box when Lappy is cleared to play. Nothing at all against Nodl either, just the way it goes. 

Carter's a much different story, and there's also the matter of the vandalized Montreal reporter's car. 

The forward lines are clicking well right now, and Ville Leino has contributed nicely in his time with a few different line sets. He'd be damn hard for Peter Laviolette to bench right about now. Not all that coincidentally, Scott Hartnell—whose benching was called for by many fans who wanted to see more of Leino down the stretch of the regular season—has really become a force in the last handful of games. Lavvy has never shown much inclination to bench Hartnell for a full game, although Hartnell did spend a period on the pine in these playoffs just before his resurgence started. 

Not only is there the question of which forward to scratch for Carter, but also how to set the lines if and when he returns. We're talking about a good problem to have here. Carter and Lappy are impact players, and when they went down along with Gagne, many of us believed Lappy was the biggest loss of the bunch because his role is so irreplaceable on this team. 

I'm basically going to punt on "who to scratch" question for Carter for now because I don't think the decision will need to be made imminently, and a whole lot can happen before it does. The Flyers winning. They've won five games in a row, with the fifth being the most convincing of the lot. There's no need to rush a player back, as opposed to when Simon Gagne got healthy in a hurry with the Flyers facing certain elimination in the second round. If the Flyers do get into trouble this series, the decision-making scenario on personnel should likely be a lot different than it is coming off of a 6-0 thrashing. Finally, as we're all well aware by now, another forward could get hurt at any time. With neither player cleared to return, the only pressing issue is winning game 2. 

The Flyers have really stepped up in the heart department to fill the Lappy void we weren't sure they could. They've also ratcheted up the scoring, and done so against two previously hot goalies. Hopefully that continues and there will be little rush to get these guys back on the ice.

Pot Kettle Powderkegs
Apparently a Montreal media member had his vehicle vandalized during game 1. I'm not going to get too deep in the manure on this one; if a reporter's car was vandalized, that sucks. Please don't do that. 

But I did find it groan-inducingly predictable that the opportunity was taken to make sweeping generalizations about any city's fanbase over a single incident once again (and a little odd that he didn't include pictures of said damage). After respectably including some references to the fact that just last series, the Montreal faithful tore up storefronts in their own city and looted, the reporter goes on to call Flyers fans are the ones in "Relentless pursuit of idiocy." I'm sorry that his car was vandalized, but the stuff he cites on the Flyers fan docket sounds a lot more isolated than the history the whole league knows Montreal fans have (link via Puck Daddy). 

Finally, he leans on the tired crutch of Santa Claus references. He made two of them, one his opener, and the second to close it out. They looted LAST WEEK in Montreal. The fanbase with the most Cups by far (although not as many recently) had to have the riot police brought in with tear gas and pepper spray because they advanced to the conference finals. The Santa Claus thing happened FOUR DECADES ago, and it was at an entirely different sport a little more than a year after the Flyers first came into the NHL. Trust me, isolated groups of Flyers fans have done a lot worse booing Santa, and a lot more recently. Same goes for most sporting cities, small towns, and anywhere else one group of people pits itself against another.

It's unfortunate if anything happened to his car, but rabble-rousing lines like the ones that begin and end the column evoke a picture of a guy grinning at the prospect of his next column, rather than sympathy for the plight of getting back into Canada wit'out a license plate. 

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers return

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers return

It had been a while since Steve Mason saw himself.

Walking into the Barclays Center on Sunday, the Flyers’ goalie was 0-6-2 with a 4.03 goals-against average and .844 save percentage over his last 10 appearances (see more recent Flyers numbers and stats).

A far cry from how Mason truly sees himself in net.

But heading into Wednesday’s rivalry clash with the Rangers, Mason will have something to build on, something he couldn’t say since Dec. 21 - the last previous time he had earned a victory. He’s fresh off his first win in over a month, a massive one for Mason considering all the key moments on Sunday the Flyers hope invigorate his confidence.

Without numerous clutch stops from their goalie, the Flyers don’t come back from two goals down to beat the Islanders, 3-2, in overtime. Mason made four saves  — three on four-time All-Star John Tavares — in just over a minute of a third-period power play. The Flyers ended up having to kill two New York man advantages in the final 10 minutes of regulation in order to force overtime.

The extra session is when Mason was just as good, if not better, stoning Tavares on a breakaway attempt that had game-winner written all over it. Mason made four saves in overtime after 13 in the third period.

“I was happy with the way that, personally, this game went for myself,” Mason said Sunday. “It’s been a tough stretch and this is more the type of game that I expect of myself. In recent games, the team was lacking the big saves and tonight it shows what kind of difference it can make.”

It was a massive performance heading into a massive three-game stretch against the Rangers, Maple Leafs and Hurricanes.

“Mase made some huge saves for us,” Simmonds said. “It allowed us to get back in that game.

“It’s not just Mase [with the] ups and downs. Everyone in here has been kind of fighting it and squeezing sticks pretty tight. That one felt good and I think Mase led the charge for sure.”

Mason understands just one game doesn’t turn around a season.

“It’s nice to feel good after a game,” Mason said. “At the same time, whether you’re winning or losing, you have to have a short mindset and get ready for the next one.”

That brings the Flyers to Madison Square Garden Wednesday to face the Rangers, who they’ve lost five straight games to dating back to last season. Mason hasn’t had much luck against New York this season, allowing seven goals in two losses with an .860 save percentage. However, in 2015-16, Mason put up a 1.74 goals-against average and .941 save percentage in five games against the Rangers.

“That’s going to be a tough game going into MSG,” Mason said Tuesday (see story).

The good thing: Mason was in New York two days ago, remembering what he can be.

Manute Bol's 7-foot, 17-year-old son dominates in HS season debut

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AP Images

Manute Bol's 7-foot, 17-year-old son dominates in HS season debut

Bol Bol, the 17-year-old son of the late Manute Bol, is a top high school basketball prospect with offers from schools like Arizona, Kansas and Creighton. This highlight tape should give you an idea why.
 
Bol, whose father played in the NBA for parts of 12 seasons, including 215 games for the Sixers, now attends the famed Mater Dei High School in California and played in his first game of the season this past weekend. Listed as the No. 16 overall prospect in the 2018 recruiting class by Scout, Bol started his season off with a big 21-point, 10-rebound effort.
 
Take a look at the highlight tape from the 6-foot-11 Bol and expect to see him carry on his father’s legacy on the court at a major NCAA college basketball program soon.