Updated: 2:23 p.m.
VOORHEES, N.J. -- When the Flyers take the ice at the Wells Fargo Center for Game 3 of their first-round series against the New York Rangers, Steve Mason will again be watching from the stands.
As much as the goalie who started 61 games for the Flyers this season wanted to be able to suit up Tuesday night, he just won’t be ready. Though he practiced once again Monday morning for about 35 minutes, he admitted he didn’t feel well enough to play or even back up in Game 3.
“You know how you feel when you’re done practice,” Mason said. “I feel good with the goaltending part of the practice, there’s just other things that are affecting the decision.”
The Flyers say only that Mason has an upper-body injury. The goaltender said he’s been improving steadily, but isn’t yet where he needs to be.
“Every day, honestly, it’s a different story,” Mason said. “Some days are really good and others aren’t great. Today was better. We’ll just hope tomorrow’s even better than today.”
Mason now targets Friday’s Game 4 for his return.
With Ray Emery’s success in the series’ first two games, the good news for Mason is he can take his time. As much as Mason wants to return as soon as possible, there isn’t any pressure on him to rush to take the ice before he’s really ready.
“Right now, the way Razor’s playing, there’s no hurry,” he said. “He’s the reason we won yesterday, so I think even if I was ready there’s no reason to take him out right now.”
Emery stopped 31 of 33 Rangers shots in Sunday’s 4-2 Game 2 victory at Madison Square Garden (see story). Despite giving up four goals in the Flyers’ Game 1 loss, Emery played very well then, too.
There’s no reason to believe he won’t have a similar outing Tuesday night (see story). Emery, who didn’t have any chances to play three games in a row this season, said he generally feels better the more he plays.
“The more frequently you play, the more comfortable you are in the net,” he said. “I appreciate being in there, especially in consecutive games.”
Emery also brings a level of experience Mason lacks. He’s won playoff games before, helping to carry the Ottawa Senators to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2007. Last year, he served as backup when the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup.
Having been through both, Emery said, is a benefit.
“Any experience definitely helps,” he said. “But seeing a team be successful in the playoffs, seeing the ups and downs a team has to go through to win a championship definitely leads to a positive experience that you can learn from.”
Mason will practice Tuesday morning ahead of Game 3, but will once again watch from the press box with the Flyers’ other scratches. It will be the fifth time he’s skated since the injury, but only one of those sessions was with the full Flyers team.
Coach Craig Berube said it would “help” to get Mason some more full-team practices or perhaps even a chance to back Emery up before he started a game.
But Berube also declined to talk about what happens when Mason is ready to return. As of right now, there’s no goalie controversy in Philadelphia.
“Ray’s playing right now,” Berube said. “That’s it. I’m saying Ray’s playing the next game. That’s it. That’s where I’m leaving it. There’s not really anything else to talk about.
“The other guy’s not ready, so I’m going to play the guy that is ready. And that’s it.”