Steve Mason will start in his third consecutive game Friday against the Phoenix Coyotes. (USA Today Images)
As expected, goaltender Steve Mason will get the start tonight when the Flyers host the Phoenix Coyotes at the Wells Fargo Center.
It will be the third consecutive start for Mason, who was in net for the Flyers’ 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers Tuesday – the team’s first victory of the year, as well as Craig Berube’s head-coaching debut.
There are a few reasons Mason got the start, beyond the fact that he was particularly impressive Tuesday night. Most notably, the Flyers play back-to-back games over the next 24 hours. They’ll be in Detroit Saturday to face a Red Wings team that Ray Emery has seen success against. Emery is 3-0-0 against the Wings, with a .943 save percentage.
Getting back to Mason, though, Berube has been impressed with what he’s seen from the young goaltender.
“He’s been solid,” Berube said. “Like all training camp, I liked him. He’s been big in net, looks active, handling the puck well, and challenging at the right time. He looked really good to me.”
Systems sinking in
Before Tuesday, the Flyers had just one morning skate to try and study up on Berube’s systems. Since then, they’ve had two full practices to get more accustomed to their new coach’s plan of action.
They’re feeling good about what was accomplished.
“I think we worked really hard,” Scott Hartnell said. “We were focused the time that we were on the ice. We had a few meetings. I think everyone felt a little uncomfortable with the new system [Tuesday], but after a few days of practice, everyone should be dialed in.
“We’ve just got to get things done.”
Since taking over for the fired Peter Laviolette, Berube has emphasized the Flyers’ need to play better when they don’t have control of the puck. He's looking to see the Flyers do a much stronger job of that tonight. And it starts, simply, with where they are at any given time.
“Positioning is one thing,” he said. “Especially in our own end. That’s real important. And better sticks in our own end, and checking better. Being physical down low and knocking people off the puck. Positioning more than anything. Being in the right position to defend.”
2-3 vs. 1-4
With a win tonight, the Flyers would be 2-0 under Berube – but there’s more to it than that.
“It isn’t just about 2-0,” Giroux said. “It’s about making a difference between 1-4 and 2-3. Early on in the season, those games are important, especially at home. We know the fans are going to be ready to go like every game, they’re going to give us a little push for the start of the game, and hopefully we can play a good 60 minutes.”
A win, too, would help the Flyers in another important area they've struggled in early this season: confidence.
“It’d be nice to score some goals too,” Hartnell said. “To get everyone’s confidence going. There’s a lot of guys with goose eggs, to have a good night tonight, to put a couple in the net and have some fun, and get this building rocking.”