Flyers' blowout loss has to be a wake-up call
Steve Mason is 3-4-1 with a 3.60 goals-against average and .873 save percentage this month. (AP)
The month of January has been nothing short of an unexpected reversal for Flyers goalie Steve Mason.
Saturday’s 6-1 beating at the hands of the Boston Bruins represented the third time this month he was pulled -- second over his last three starts.
Trending right now: Mason’s goals against is going up, while his save percentage is plummeting.
For the month, he is 3-4-1 with one no decision while carrying a 3.60 GAA and .873 save percentage.
“We’re playing a team game and everyone has to get better,” coach Craig Berube said. “It’s confidence [with Mason]. There are parts of his game, like our team, that look really good. Things go wrong or something happens, the confidence level drops.”
Break Mason’s starts down further, in his last six games, his GAA is 4.57 with an .846 save percentage
Mind you, his save percentage was .928 in October, .938 in November and .899 in December.
“There’s been a couple of bad bounces and couple goals I would have liked to have stopped," Mason said. “Just getting back to making the saves I need to. I’ve been working hard to find a solution.
“The only way I am going to get out of this little funk is to continue to work hard and get ready for the next game.”
Saturday’s loss wasn’t entirely on him, but he failed to come up with the kind of momentum saves that could have stopped the hemorrhaging we’ve come to expect from him.
His rebound control hasn't been very good lately and he’s leaving more of them in the slot instead of turning shots to the corner.
Any one aspect of his play need correcting?
“I’m disappointed in not being able to play well enough to get the wins now,” Mason replied. “I’d like to improve everything. When you are not having success, it’s easy to overthink things.
“I try not to do that and stay calm and make sure when we have the opportunity to practice, I try to get better.
“Unfortunately, we haven’t had a lot of that [practice] time. You get out there and make sure come next game you are ready to go.”
The Bruins game was part of the Flyers most difficult stretch of games heading into the Olympic break over the next several weeks.
“Yeah, we’re picking a terrible spot to play some pretty crappy hockey,” Mason said. “Teams that are around us are winning, and we’re falling behind.”
The loss was the fourth straight start for Mason in which he failed to notch his 20th win.
Overall, he is 19-13-5 with a 2.64 GAA and .913 save percentage. At the beginning of December, his GAA was 2.14.
Both Mason and Ray Emery, who relieved him after Boston made it 4-0 in the second period, have been under siege in goal right from the puck drop in the last couple games.
The Flyers' defense is a mess in its own end and the breakout has been problematic with turnovers and clearing passes coming right back into the zone on them.
It’s hard for the goalies to catch their breath.
“Yeah we’ve been getting hemmed in our own zone, and then we take two back-to-back penalties and they get a lucky break off of [Braydon Coburn’s] skate,” Mason said.
“Breaks like that weren’t necessarily happening as much at the beginning of the season as they have now. We have to find ways to be able to bounce back from that. It’s just not pretty hockey.”
Berube had the team practicing early Sunday morning before heading to the Flyers Wives Fight for Lives Carnival.
He said he could not remember, as a player or coach, practicing the same day as the Carnival but the team needed it because it is not practicing Monday and also because the team played so poorly Saturday, they needed to work on systems.
The loss dropped the Flyers out of the playoffs and into the ninth seed in the Eastern Conference. They were as high as fifth in the conference earlier this month. ... The Flyers' penalty kill fell from fifth to 10th overnight by virtue of giving up three power-play goals to the Bruins. ... Detroit comes in Tuesday before the Flyers leave for their West Coast swing to Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose. ... Berube went back to some familiar lines: Michael Raffl with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek; Steve Downie back with Sean Couturier and Matt Read; Vinny Lecavalier back with Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds. ... Andrej Meszaros remained out of the defensive mix with Hal Gill on drills. ... Zac Rinaldo practiced again and is still in rehab for his sprained ankle. He has no idea when he will return to the lineup but is encouraged at the progress he’s made.