2013-14 Flyers evaluation: Goaltending

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2013-14 Flyers evaluation: Goaltending

First of three parts, reviewing the Flyers' roster from 2013-14.

Goaltending just might have been the Flyers' greatest overall strength this past season.

It’s what saved them early. It’s what made them competitive down the stretch. It’s what gave them a chance in the playoffs.

The only question the Flyers have about this position going into the summer is whether they will re-sign backup Ray Emery.

If it means anything, Emery received strong vocal support from Steve Mason on breakup day.

“I hope he’s back,” Mason said. “First and foremost, he’s a great person. I think he was a huge part of us coming back this year.

“Myself, having a goaltender partner like Ray, who is extremely supportive, I learned a lot from him. The way he approaches the game -- he’s been through a lot in his career, not just in hockey but life in general. To have an older guy like that as your partner, I’d like to have him back.”

General manager Paul Holmgren has had discussions with Emery’s agent and said he would also like a full medical report before making a decision on a new contract.

There are about a half-dozen UFA goalies in the Flyers' price range if they can’t re-sign Emery.

Ray Emery
Age: Turns 32 in September
Record: 9-12-2
Stats: 1328:25 MIN; 2.96 GAA; .903 SV%
Status: Unrestricted free agent

A very different Emery was signed to a one-year, $1.65 million contract last summer. Different in how he presented himself from several years ago when the Flyers first gave him a try. A more humble, more professional, more mature goalie. Emery’s battle to overcome a career-threatening right hip injury had a lasting impact on him. It changed his outlook on life. Winning the Stanley Cup in Chicago allowed him to validate his career. He gave the Flyers exactly what they required: a reliable, competent, experienced backup. Emery no longer can go post to post -- his only flaw -- like he used to, but he was invaluable in many ways as the backup to Mason. For whatever reason, teammates didn’t give him the goal support he deserved in far too many games this season. Had they, his record would have been much better. He was very composed during key road games down the stretch, which is why coach Craig Berube used him. Holmgren said Emery never had any hip issues this season. Emery deserves to be re-signed, but it’s going to be tied to available cap dollars.

Steve Mason
Age: Turns 26 this month
Record: 33-18-7
Stats: 
3485:36 MIN; 2.50 GAA; .917 SV%
Cap hit: $4.1 million

After several decades of trying to find a young goalie to give the Flyers some longevity in net a la Ron Hextall, it appears the Flyers have finally found their man. Much like Jakub Voracek, Mason came here from Columbus as a project player and needed to give the Flyers a reason to believe. People were excited about the snippet he showed last spring in just seven games. Mason proved those outings were no fluke. He appears to be the real deal and was largely responsible for giving teammates hope early in the season when the club was a mess and trying to claw its way back into the playoff picture when the entire roster couldn’t score goals. Mason outplayed Henrik Lundqvist in the postseason and gave the Flyers every chance to win the series, despite playing through a concussion, which was not a wise decision. He was outstanding at times and came up big in big games. He and Emery found a way to co-exist without jealousy. They were a very good tandem in net. Mason’s new three-year, $12.3 million contract kicks in this coming season. He earned a bargain $1.5 million for 2013-14. 

Next: A look back on the defense.

Best of NHL: Canadiens avoid winless California trip with SO win over Kings

Best of NHL: Canadiens avoid winless California trip with SO win over Kings

LOS ANGELES -- Paul Byron scored the clinching goal in the fourth round of the shootout, and the Montreal Canadiens avoided a winless swing through California with a 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday.

Max Pacioretty had two goals and an assist for the Canadiens, who won for just the second time in seven road games. Montreal had only one win in its previous 11 games in California before scoring three times in the four-round shootout.

Alexander Radulov and Andrew Shaw also scored and Carey Price made 27 saves for the Atlantic Division-leading Canadiens.

Jeff Carter and Drew Doughty had a goal and an assist apiece for the Kings, who lost for only the second time in eight games. Peter Budaj stopped 26 shots (see full recap).

DeKeyser gives Red Wings OT win over Isles
NEW YORK -- Danny DeKeyser scored 1:02 into overtime to give Detroit a victory over New York.

Mike Green scored twice and Henrik Zetterberg had a goal and assist for Detroit, which improved to 4-1-2 in its last seven games. Peter Mrazek stopped 32 shots to improve to 3-0-2 in his past five starts.

Anders Lee, Johnny Boychuk and Josh Bailey scored for New York, which had won a season-high three straight. Jaroslav Halak finished with 30 saves.

Detroit's Frans Nielsen had an assist while facing his former team for the first time since leaving the Islanders for a six-year, $31.5 million deal with the Red Wings last summer. The 32-year-old Danish center was selected by the Islanders in the third round of the 2002 draft and had 119 goals and 230 assists over 10 seasons in New York (see full recap).

Late goal lifts Jets over Blackhawks
CHICAGO -- Andrew Copp scored the tiebreaking goal with 4:45 left, Bryan Little got his third goal in three games and Winnipeg edged Chicago.

Copp beat Scott Darling on the stick side with a shot from the right circle that slipped just inside the left post.

Chicago's Artemi Panarin scored with 6:54 remaining to tie it at 1, moments after Copp hit the post, to spoil Connor Hellebuyck's bid for a second shutout against Chicago in less than a month. Panarin completed a give-and-go with Patrick Kane, beating Hellebuyck to the glove side.

Hellebuyck finished with 25 saves and outdueled Darling, who started his second straight game for the Blackhawks in place of No. 1 goalie Corey Crawford. Darling made 30 saves, including three on breakaways.

Little's power-play goal with 43.4 seconds left in the second period was his fourth point in four games since missing 23 with a lower-body injury (see full recap)

Wayne Simmonds stars as Flyers top Predators, push win streak to 5 games

Wayne Simmonds stars as Flyers top Predators, push win streak to 5 games

BOX SCORE

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Dave Hakstol likes Wayne Simmonds’ net-front play more than that of any player in the league.

The Flyers' power forward showed on Sunday why his coach thinks that way.

Simmonds’ two power-play goals in front of the crease helped extend the Flyers’ win streak to five, their longest of the season, in a 4-2 win over the Nashville Predators on Sunday night (see Instant Replay).

“If there’s a better guy in the league at net front, whether it’s on power play or 5 on 5, I don’t know who that is,” said Hakstol said after Sunday's victory. “He did a great job there tonight.”

Simmonds’ first goal came when he deflected Jake Voracek’s shot past Juuse Saros, giving the Flyers a 1-0 lead at 18:12 of the first period.

“They had great movement around the top of the box and Jake told me to go back door if he was going to get it for a one-timer,” Simmonds said. “So I stuck my stick out back door and he hit it, and it went in the net.”

Then Simmonds batted a puck through Saros' legs for a 2-1 advantage at 6:47 of the second period for his team-leading 13th goal of the season.

“It was kind of a little bit of a cluster and the puck comes to me, and I’m alone in front of the net so I just put it five-hole and it worked,” Simmonds said.

The right wing’s father was watching in the sellout crowd of 17,113 at Bridgestone Arena during the Flyers' annual father-son trip.

“It was nice, obviously,” Simmonds said. “I just went outside and saw him. He didn’t really say much to me, but I know he’s glowing on the inside.”

Simmonds has now scored 10 career goals in 20 games against Nashville.

“What I really like about Simmer is he’s at net-front, he’s scoring goals, he’s on the power play, but he’s a great, hard-nosed, 200-foot player,” Hakstol said.

Simmonds’ goals gave the Flyers an early spark on Sunday.

“It was huge,” said Flyers left wing Michael Raffl, who scored the winning goal at 16:37 of the second period when made a power move on a rush and tucked the puck past Saros. “That gives us all the momentum.”

The Flyers improved to 7-3-1 in their last 11 games.

“We’re just trying to take care of pucks and maintain the pressure that we have,” Simmonds said. “The next shift up every game is the most important shift and that’s how we’re trying to play it here.”

Predators coach Peter Laviolette, a former Flyers coach, wasn’t surprised by his former team’s power-play success. The Flyers entered the game tied for the third best power play in the league cashed in twice on seven chances on Sunday.

“We knew going in that their power play was really good,” Laviolette said. “Their players have a lot of time together and cohesiveness and they’re pretty set in what they do. They bring pucks to the net and when they do that, things can happen. That was a difference in the game tonight.”

Winning goalie Steve Mason has started 10 of the last 11 games. He made 30 saves Sunday to improve his record to 8-8-3.

“This is the situation I want to be in, so it’s a workload that all summer you prepare for even when I was not getting the work load I wanted,” Mason said. “You prepare for it and now that it’s here I’m making the most of it.”