Does Steve Mason give the Flyers the best chance to win?
Steve Mason has looked solid in goal so far this season, despite the Flyers' overall record or even his 1-2 start.
Things settled down a tiny bit on front of him the last game, and if new head coach Craig Berube can implement the changes he wants, there will be less chaos for his goaltenders the remainder of the way.
That means Mason and Ray Emery might eventually succeed in getting comfortable in net, knowing things have settled down in the slot. Their heads will no longer be on a swivel.
“That’s the ultimate goal,” Mason. “We’re trying to clean things up and make our in-zone play more calm and less [of a] scramble than the first few games and obviously the preseason. I think everybody felt that we were running around.
“When you’re doing that, things become a lot more difficult. What Chief [Berube] is trying to implement right now is to bring a sense of calm back into our own zone.”
As for the chaos that was present in preseason and through the first three games of the regular season …
“That’s what you expect in preseason when you have guys playing from the American League and junior,” Mason said. “You don’t expect clean hockey games. Now that we’re into the regular season, with our group here, we want to make sure our defensive zone play is cleaner.”
Mason, who will start Friday night, comes into the game against the Phoenix Coyotes, who are playing back-to-back, with a 2.02 goals-against average and .938 save percentage.
The Coyotes defeated the Red Wings, 4-2, on Thursday in Detroit.
“I feel really confident with my game,” Mason said. “It was nice to come in here at the end of last season and start building a foundation, something to build off of. That carried through the summer with a positive mindset and into training camp. I’m taking small baby steps trying to get better.”
Mason said he breaks his games down into segments from one TV timeout to the next scheduled break on the ice.
“That works out to roughly seven minutes,” he said. “That’s how I break down my games. I find it’s more manageable that way. You have your seven minutes of focus and then you go to the bench and kind of get your drink and what not and focus after that.
“During the course of the season, you take it day by day, and you’re not looking too far ahead. You’re not looking four games down the road as to who you’re playing next. You just focus on the next opponent.”
The approach is relatively new for him.
“It’s something that I started working on last year and not getting to ahead of myself,” Mason said. "In years past, if you’re playing a tough opponent – say we’re in the Western Conference and you’re playing Detroit – I might look ahead to where we were playing them on the schedule and might have swayed my concentration on who we were playing next.
“With the experience of playing in the league for a few years now and just getting older in general, that’s just something that’s helped me.”
The Flyers head to Detroit after tonight’s game for Saturday’s clash against the Red Wings, who moved back into the Eastern Conference this season as part of realignment.