2013-14 Flyers evaluation: Goaltending

usa-steve-mason-ray-emery-flyers-waterbottles.jpg

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.

Flyers ramp up intensity, physicality on Day 2 of training camp

Flyers ramp up intensity, physicality on Day 2 of training camp

VOORHEES, N.J. — Radko Gudas was so hyped up, he was having great difficulty trying to communicate his excitement after having crunched two players during battle drills.
 
“This is the fun where it starts … where the fun starts?” he said with a laugh. “Everybody wants to get the feeling of game-like situations. Everybody is trying their hardest.”
 
After two days of mostly drills with gradually advancing intensity, the Flyers wrapped up Saturday’s training camp with two-on-two battle drills.
 
Two guys going to the net and shooting, getting the rebound, all the while fighting off another player.
 
Gudas wants to demonstrate he can still maim guys along the boards with a taped-up right wrist (stress fracture). And he did.
 
“I haven’t used the wrist for a couple weeks so it’s nice to get a touch with somebody else and get into the battle situation with someone else and know I can still do it,” he said.
 
“This is more for the older guys who weren’t here for the rookie [camp] to get in there, get a feel for it.”
 
All this aside, Gudas might not participate in Sunday’s full squad scrimmage only because he has not been cleared to shoot pucks yet.
 
“I have to stay as much as I can off the heavy slapper,” he said.
 
The Flyers have two split-squad games Monday — one in New Jersey, the other in Brooklyn.
 
“The guys are anxious to have a scrimmage,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “Couple good, hard workdays and they handled it really well. It’s time to get into a scrimmage situation, which leads into a game the next day.”
 
Hence the battle drills to get players to take their energy to that next level.
 
“You got to slowly keep moving toward game readiness,” Hakstol said. “There’s a difference from practice to a full preseason game.
 
“Today was a little more battle in practice than yesterday but some subtle detail mixed into each of the drills.”

Broadcast notes
Monday's game in New Jersey will be broadcast on radio on 97.5 The Fanatic, while the Islanders' game is slated to be a video webcast on PhiladelphiaFlyers.com.

Tuesday's game against the Islanders at the Wells Fargo Center and Wednesday's game against the Devils in Allentown, Pennsylvania, will both air on TCN and 97.5.

Brayden Schenn motivated to build off career season in 2016-17

Brayden Schenn motivated to build off career season in 2016-17

VOORHEES, N.J. — What a difference for Brayden Schenn to walk into Flyers training camp and feel as if he’s arrived.
 
The forward is coming off a season in which he posted career-highs in goals (26), assists (33) and points (59), which earned him the team’s Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy as the most improved Flyer. 
 
Best of all, he was rewarded with a four-year, $20.5 million contract in July.
 
“I feel good coming into this year,” Schenn said. “The Flyers showed some trust and confidence in me by signing me for four years. Coming in here, I’m excited to get the season going and build off last year.”
 
At least he won’t have to begin camp on the fifth line like he did last fall after general manager Ron Hextall had challenged him to take his game to another level and new head coach Dave Hakstol made him work to advance himself in the lineup.
 
“You hope it won’t be like that [fifth line], especially with [seven] guys gone,” Schenn said jokingly, meaning the Flyers playing in the World Cup of Hockey.
 
The big question for Schenn is whether he plays left wing on Claude Giroux’s line or plays wing on Sean Couturier's unit. He proved to everyone last season he can play all three forward spots now and be effective on the ice.
 
“I finished on the left,” he said. “I said forward or center but I played so much left wing, right wing a little center in the playoffs. So I feel comfortable now all over.
 
“Wherever the opportunity is to play with great players and make the most of the situation is where you want to be right now.”
 
These first two days of camp, Schenn has been very aggressive and motivated on the ice.
 
Schenn, Giroux and Wayne Simmonds represented the top line much of last season, especially in the second half. That was partly because Jakub Voracek had slumped so badly from his breakout season the year before and couldn’t hold his spot on the first line.
 
“It’s tough to say because lines change throughout the year,” Schenn said. “When you are trying to find chemistry and this and that. Wherever I start, I just have to make the most of every opportunity.
 
“We have a lot of top players around here to play with … to pencil my name into one spot is hard to say. Wherever they place me at the start, I’ll to try with it.”
 
It’s expected he’ll start the season again at left wing on Giroux’s line after he serves his three-game suspension for a hit against Capitals forward T.J. Oshie in the playoffs.
 
“It’s good to have guys who can move around because you never know what you are gonna need in a top six,” Hextall said. “You like a left-hand Brayden on the left side with skill.”
 
Hakstol said he wants guys “who fit well” together, so that may be the answer right there.
 
There was talk last season whether the Schenn Brothers were having negative impacts on each other. Luke Schenn, the veteran defenseman, came to camp and was demoted to eighth on the depth chart. He was angry from Day 1. Brayden Schenn was angry at the fifth line.
 
Both would huddle with each other every day. Both cared so deeply about the other, they acted as each’s confidante. Yet when Luke Schenn was traded, it seemed to benefit both players.
 
“Probably a better question for Brayden, but a lot of people have pointed to that,” Hextall said. “When Luke got traded, Brayden had played six or seven really good games ahead of that.
 
“Whether that was coincidence or not I don’t have an answer. I do think what he said there, there’s obvious reason based on personality and it probably could do you good or do you harm.”
 
Brayden Schenn said he always dreamed of playing with his brother, but it adds other pressures.
 
“When you come to the rink [as brothers], you are so tight and so close, you tend to worry about each other more than you have to, just because it’s family and he’s your brother,” he said.
 
“Now that Luke’s gone, he’s in a good situation in Arizona, I hope he gets a good opportunity. Now you tend to worry about yourself a little more. Come to the rink and focus on what you have to do and not to worry about Luke or vice-versa.”
 
Schenn said it’s obvious that the club has made a commitment to himself, Giroux, Simmonds, Couturier and Voracek with the long-term contracts handed out in recent years.
 
To that end, he said, the window of opportunity for some of these Flyers is fast approaching. Some are in their peak years now. Schenn, 25, and Couturier, 23, are the youngest among that group.
 
“They will challenge us again this year to get better,” Schenn said. “They have invested in us. We all got to step up. Parts on the back end like 'Ghost' [Shayne Gostisbehere] and Gudy [Radko Gudas]. Everyone has got to get better year by year.
 
“I hate to say it. We’re not old by any means, but our core group of guys are in their prime now and we have to try to make it happen.”
 
It starts in training camp.