Steve Mason will start Game 4 but there was never a goalie controversy anyway

Steve Mason will start Game 4 but there was never a goalie controversy anyway

After what transpired in Game 3 this past Tuesday night, you could see this one coming from a mile away.

Philadelphia Flyers head coach Craig Berube confirmed today that Steve Mason will be back between the pipes and start Game 4 against the New York Rangers tomorrow night at Wells Fargo Center.

It seems like Mason is fully healthy from that mysterious upper-body injury he suffered in a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the last weekend of the regular season.

And while backup Ray Emery filled in admirably in Games 1 and 2 and was arguably the Flyers’ best player in those two games leading some to think there was some sort of controversy brewing, Mason is and was always the No. 1 goalie when fully healthy.

And for good reason.

Mason earned the spot with the way he played this season. He finished with a 33-18-7 record, .914 save percentage and 2.50 goals-against average in 61 regular-season appearances while separating himself from Emery. Granted Emery made just 28 appearances in the regular season, but you get the point.

No slight toward Emery as he’s done exactly what’s been asked of him in the backup role this season, but Mason is and always has been the better option, no questions asked.

And that bodes even more true in this series against the Rangers for a couple of reasons.

First, Mason has superior lateral movement.

Look at most of the goals the Rangers have scored so far in the series. Most of the goals have come as a result of Emery being forced to move post-to-post and that isn’t his strong point these days, especially after that near career-ending hip surgery he underwent a few years ago during his first stint as a Flyer.

With all the puck possession the Rangers have had in this series, it has allowed their playmakers to make slick passes and get Emery moving as Flyers defenders have been on their heels.

Mason is much better going post-to-post so he’ll have better opportunities to shut down those kinds of Rangers chances. That’s huge, especially if the Rangers continue to control the puck as much as they have in the series. We haven’t seen any reason so far to think they won’t.

Second, Mason is a much better at handling the puck than Emery is. In fact, Mason is one of the better puck-handling goaltenders in the entire league.

That’s a huge weapon because of how effective the Rangers have forechecked so far in the series. They’ve won the majority of the board battles after dump-ins and chip-ins and those won battles have led to a ton of scoring chances.

Mason has the ability to come out of his net and deftly play the puck to a teammate or out of the zone before the Rangers can start their forecheck and help start the Flyers down the other end of the ice.

Think along the lines of two years ago when the Flyers played the New Jersey Devils in the second round.

Then Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette’s aggressive forechecking system was thwarted before it began because of the way Devils goalie Marty Brodeur played the puck. The Flyers were never able to figure out a real way around that.

Now Mason is not Brodeur when it comes to playing the puck. No goalie is. But that puck-handling presence could toss a major wrench into the way the Rangers attack.

In case you tuned out, Emery was pulled in third period of Game 3 and replaced by Mason, who made three saves in 7:15 of ice time.

But cut Emery some slack. He obviously wasn’t great in Game 3 and most of the goals he let in were softies. Derek Stepan and Dan Carcillo’s goals had no business going in. Dan Girardi’s goal was a rocket from the blue line but Emery still had a shot at it. Only Marty St. Louis’ deflection from the high slot was the one Emery had no shot at.

But Emery was far from the only reason the Flyers lost Game 3. They barely had any sort of puck possession or real, sustained offensive-zone time. They had 31 shots on net but how many times was Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist truly tested?

The Flyers once again couldn’t stay out of the penalty box as they took five penalties and if it wasn’t for two really dumb penalties by Rangers forward Benoit Pouliot that negated Rangers power plays, the first period could have been a whole lot worse.

The Flyers’ power play was also a mess as it went 0-for-5 and generated just three total shots on goal. They also struggled mightily getting shots through to Lundqvist as the Rangers blocked 28 shots but it seemed like they blocked a million of them.

The good news is that there are two days off between Games 3 and 4. That’s two days of adjustments for the Flyers to make before the puck is dropped tomorrow night.

Actually not falling behind by two goals in the first period and jumping out to a lead would be a nice adjustment to start with.

Eagles Injury Update: Logan, Ron Brooks, McKelvin questionable

Eagles Injury Update: Logan, Ron Brooks, McKelvin questionable

Bennie Logan will miss practice again on Friday, but after sitting all week, will still be listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Vikings.

While it seems unlikely Logan will be able to play, head coach Doug Pederson said the starting defensive tackle will be a game-time decision.

“The chance to possibly work him ouct game day and just see where he’s at,” Pederson said. “It’s groin strain, so we just have to be careful with it and be smart with it and how we handle him.” 

If Logan can’t play, reserve Beau Allen would get just his third career start. 

“I’ll tell you, Beau was honestly one of the bright spots last week,” Pederson said. 

Along with Logan, Ron Brooks (calf), Leodis McKelvin (hamstring) and Mychal Kendricks (ribs) will also be listed as questionable, according to Pederson. 

Pederson said Allen Barbre (ankle), Jason Kelce (foot), Jordan Matthews (knee tendinitis), Rodney McLeod (shoulder) and Marcus Smith (groin) should all be fine for Sunday’s game. 

McKelvin missed last week with the same hamstring that kept him out for Weeks 2 and 3 and forced him to leave the Lions game early. He has practiced in full all week. 

If Brooks, who was limited on Thursday, can’t play, the Eagles would be without their slot corner. That means Malcolm Jenkins would play the slot in the nickel package and Jaylen Watkins could come on the field as a safety.

While Kelce should be OK for the game, he did miss Wednesday’s practice with plantar fasciitis in his foot. 

Will that bother Kelce for the rest of the season? 

“It’s just a nagging deal,” Pederson said. “It’s kind of a sore … Again, I don’t know much about it. You can refer to it as a stone bruise, whatever you want to refer to it as. I talked to him yesterday. He was fine yesterday. We’ll just manage him and make sure he’s getting treatment and the proper medication and everything to try to keep it to a minimum.”

Penn at Yale: Quakers try to keep rolling, stay atop Ivies


Penn at Yale: Quakers try to keep rolling, stay atop Ivies

Penn (3-2, 2-0) at Yale (1-4, 1-1)
Yale Bowl, New Haven, Conn.
Friday, 7 p.m., NBCSN

It’s once again time for Friday night lights for Penn, which plays its second of three nationally televised Friday matchups tonight. Here’s a look at what’s on tap:

Scouting Penn
The Quakers won their third straight game and stayed perfect in the Ivy League with an easy 35-10 victory over old friend Al Bagnoli and Columbia last week. Junior running back Tre Solomon, the Ivy League’s leading rusher, was the star of the game, rushing for a career-high 127 yards on nine carries, catching five passes for 30 yards and even throwing a 23-yard TD pass on a late trick play. 

Quarterback Alek Torgersen threw for 241 yards and three touchdowns, one going to star junior Justin Watson and two more going to sophomore Christian Pearson, who’s emerging as another dynamic explosive receiving weapon. Linebacker Colton Moskal led the best defensive effort of the season with eight tackles, 1.5 sacks and 1.5 tackles for a loss. Moskal, a Syracuse transfer, currently ranks fourth in the Ivies in tackles with nine per game.

Scouting Yale
The Bulldogs lost their first three games (including a surprising one to Cornell in their Ivy opener), snapped their slide vs. Dartmouth, and then fell back to its losing ways last week at Fordham. Yale’s defense has particularly struggled, allowing 44 points to Fordham after previously surrendering 55 points in a loss to Colgate and 63 in a loss to Lehigh. 

The Bulldogs’ scoring defense currently ranks 118 out of 122 teams in the FCS (40.4 points per game) and 117th in total defense (487.8 yards per game). But their defense does have two of the top tacklers in the Ivies in Hayden Carlson and Foyesade Oluokun. And led by the tandem of Dale Harris and Alan Lamar, Yale leads the Ivies in rushing offense, averaging 184.8 yards per game — two-tenths of a yard more than Penn.

Series history
Yale leads the overall series 47-35-1, but Penn is 18-6 in the programs’ last 24 meetings dating back to 1992. The Quakers prevailed in last year’s matchup but hasn’t won at the Yale Bowl since 2010.

Storyline to watch
The historic Yale Bowl was erected more than 100 years ago but this will be the first true night game in the history of the stadium. That will only add to the mystique for the Penn players, who beat Yale in a night game at Franklin Field last season and love Friday night games because it reminds them of their high school days. But Yale players certainly figure to be up for the unique matchup, too. 

What’s at stake?
A win would keep Penn atop the Ivies with either Princeton or Harvard, the two other unbeaten frontrunners who face off the following day. 

Alek Torgersen, Justin Watson and Tre Solomon should have a field day against Yale’s leaky defense. Penn 42, Yale 27.