Flyers' Mason raises game in win over Panthers


Flyers' Mason raises game in win over Panthers

As with anything worthwhile, new Flyers coach Craig Berube’s stronger team defense won’t happen overnight.

That’s a big part of why the Florida Panthers led 6-1 in shots after the first 3:30 on Tuesday. And 25-17 after 40 minutes. And 33-21 after 50 minutes.

Goalie Steve Mason, however, is the reason the Flyers won, 2-1 (see game recap).

“Our goalie played unbelievable for us tonight,” Scott Hartnell said. “He definitely won us the game, and that’s what you need in a goaltender -- to win you some games sometimes.”

Mason, making his second consecutive start of the season and third overall, kept his team alive in what was only the second game at the Wells Fargo Center of this young season. While the Flyers led 2-0 through almost all of the second period, that score is somewhat deceptive.

The Flyers once again committed some of the same sins that led to Peter Laviolette’s firing. They were sloppy in their own zone and silent through their five power-play chances. The two early goals they did score were thanks largely to a wildly out-of-position and injured Panthers goalie Tim Thomas.

Mason, though, was stellar and consistent throughout.

Berube spouted compliments about Mason’s game as if he were listing the qualifications of a Vezina winner.

“Composure in net,” Berube said. “He looked real solid. Right on top of things. Saw all the pucks. Just solid. Just looked big in net.”

In fact, the young Flyers’ goaltender has looked sharp through each of his three starts. On Tuesday, though, he brought it to another level, and was responsible for most -- if not all -- of the Flyers’ highlight reel.

With just about a minute left to play in the first, Mason stoned Panthers center Aleksander Barkov with an acrobatic move that required him to basically do a split in mid-air.

Early in the second, Mason made up for a Kimmo Timonen fumble that led to a shorthanded breakaway attempt by Shawn Matthias, turning away the centerman.

He remained calm in the third period when a Jay Rosehill penalty resulted in four minutes of shorthanded play for the defense in front of him, which hadn’t yet had a full practice to work on Berube’s new system.

“Part of the position is coming up big at key opportunities,” Mason said. “At the end of the first period, there were a couple saves that needed to be made in order to preserve the lead, and moving forward it was something to build off. Feeling good about that right now.”

The long goal Mason did give up came with just six seconds left in the second period, the kind of marker than can sway a game’s momentum. Instead, when he returned for the final stanza, Mason never lost a step.

It was exactly what the Flyers needed in order to escape Tuesday night with their first win of the season -- as captain Claude Giroux noted, the game itself was far from a pretty one.

In total, he stopped 33 Panthers shots.

“He played great,” Braydon Coburn said. “We needed him to play really good. He definitely stood on his head for us.”

“It could have been a very different hockey game if he didn’t have the game that he had,” Brayden Schenn added.

At his introductory press conference, Berube was asked how he’d prefer to handle the Flyers’ goalie situation -- whether he likes the idea of a tandem or he’d rather have a clear No. 1.

“I think that’ll work itself out,” he said at the time, coyly. He repeated the sentiment once again after Tuesday’s win: "That will play itself out."

As for Mason, he was honored to receive the start in Berube’s coaching debut, especially since it was the first time either he or Ray Emery had played back-to-back games since the regular season kicked off. Laviolette had remained true to the every-other-game goalie system.

“Regardless of what game it is, if you’re going in there that means the coach has confidence in you,” Mason said. “To get the back-to-back starts and be able to finally get the first one out of the way is definitely nice. But at the same time, it’s just one game. We have a whole schedule. It’s something to build off of, but it’s a small thing in the big picture right now.”

Based on how Tuesday worked itself out, however, it should be difficult for Berube not to award the start in Friday’s game against the Phoenix Coyotes to Mason.

It’s far from on Mason’s mind, however. To him and to Emery, the new coach doesn’t reawaken any kind of debate on starting goaltenders.

“That’s up to Chief to decide who goes in,” he said. “I’ll never go and ask him if I’m playing. I’ll wait to hear from him.”

Flyers' solid effort against Canadiens not enough in road loss

Flyers' solid effort against Canadiens not enough in road loss


MONTREAL — It was at least a point in the taking.
A valuable point against the best team in the Eastern Conference, being preserved for the Flyers by goalie Steve Mason.
Despite an outstanding road effort and 30 saves from Mason, it wasn't enough Monday night at Bell Centre as Les Canadiens defeated the Flyers, 3-1 (see Instant Replay).
“We were right there, same as other games this year in the third period,” Jakub Voracek said. “We got scored on from the power play. It happens.”
Brendan Gallagher’s tip at 13:08 on the power play was the difference. Thing is, Boyd Gordon, who won 10 of 12 draws, cleanly directed the draw but it went right to Shea Weber — a faceoff loss — with Alexander Radulov unleashing a wicked shot.
“Sometimes you go against a righty and get jammed and it was more towards their winger,” Gordon said. “I bumped it back. A mix-up up top. Too bad because the PK was good.”
The Flyers have nothing to be ashamed of after Monday's effort. They deserved a better fate. If they continue to play like this, the victories will come.
“I thought Mase played really well but I thought our team played really well,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. “We didn’t have to steal anything. Our team played a real solid road game and it always starts with your goaltender.”
Mason had four point-blank shots he denied in this game.

“We definitely wanted to come in here and get two points and it’s disappointing with the loss,” Mason said. “Nice thing is, we can get right back at it tomorrow [against Buffalo].
“It was a close game overall and both teams had chances to go ahead. They capitalized on a couple bounces there and that’s the ebbs and flows of the game. They found a way to win and we didn’t.”

On the game-winner, Mason was expecting the one-timer from Weber but instead the former defenseman, who came over during the summer in a controversial trade for P.K. Subban, gave it off to Radulov.
“He shot it and I had a good line on it,” Mason said. “Gallagher was able to get his stick on it there and it changed directions on me.”
Curiously, Montreal had four power plays in this game to the Flyers' one despite the evenness of play across the board with the exception of the slot, where Montreal had better chances.
Sean Couturier’s tripping call on Torrey Mitchell was inadvertent, setting up the crucial late power play.
“It was a pretty well-played third period,” Hakstol said. “Tough penalty we ended up getting called on.
“Not much Coots could do. He was dragging his stick to break up the play. It’s a penalty when the stick goes between the legs.”
The Flyers owned much of the second period. While Mason handled a number of rushes right into the crease, he was felled by a point drive from Weber that stanza. 
Weber’s shot was so hard it broke Brayden Schenn’s stick. Yet, the simple truth was Mason was screened out completely by Andrew MacDonald.
Eleven of the Flyers' 13 shots on Carey Price came via five-on-five play that period, most of it contained in the period’s latter third when they were rewarded.
Voracek had a ferocious shift with an open shot in the slot that Price denied, but he kept the puck alive and earned his third goal with a tip of Claude Giroux’s drive from the high slot to make it 1-1.
Voracek has three goals in six games during this first month. He didn’t get his third goal last season until Dec. 19 at Columbus — 33 games.
“Second period is usually the most offensive one,” Voracek said. “It’s too bad we only generated one goal.
“As a game on the road in a tough building against a team that [has lost once], we can be happy the way we played.”

Instant Replay: Canadiens 3, Flyers 1

Instant Replay: Canadiens 3, Flyers 1


MONTREAL — Nothing like coming off a win against a weak opponent like Carolina and then having to face the No. 1 club in the East.
Still, that was the Flyers' task Monday night at Bell Centre against Carey Price and the Canadiens during a very well-played 3-1 loss.
Dave Hakstol’s Flyers gave the Canadiens all they could handle and deserved a point.
Brendan Gallagher’s power-play tip broke a 1-1 tie at 13:08 of the third period.
Notable goals
Jakub Voracek’s second-period tip was his third goal in six games. It took him 33 games last season to score three. That unit with Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny created chances all night. On the goal, however, Claude Giroux had come onto the ice for Couturier as part of a change.
Goalie report
Steve Mason had a terrific pad stop on Paul Byron’s first-period breakaway up the left side of the ice. Phillip Danault drove the net twice on Mason from great distance to force a stop. That sequence was repeated too often. Shea Weber’s point shot in the second period shattered Brayden Schenn’s stick, but Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald blocked Mason’s vision in the paint and it became a goal. Mason had several point-blank saves in this one. If not for those, it would have been a rout.
Power play
The Flyers' first one was brutal. They managed just one shot while the Habs cleared the puck four times. The Flyers didn’t get another power play.
Penalty kill
Couturier had a block at the point near the end of one PP. However, he could not get his stick cleanly on it while being trapped by two Canadiens as he tried to come up ice. If the puck had squirted cleanly out of the zone, he might have had a breakaway. The Habs were 1 for 4 on the power play.

Big hits
Wayne Simmonds, after coming out of the box for serving a holding call early in the game, nailed Habs defenseman Andrei Markov along the side board with a cross check that sent the defenseman face-first into the boards. That will be reviewed. Markov stayed down to sell the penalty that never came. Alexander Radulov rattled Nick Cousins that period, as well, and was called for interference.
Radko Gudas (suspended) and Dale Weise (suspended). Scott Laughton (knee), Michael Del Zotto (knee) and Michael Raffl (abdominal pull). 
Up next
The Flyers are playing back-to-back games and will host the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday at Wells Fargo Center. This is the Flyers' second set of consecutive games since the season began on Oct. 14.