Flyers Notes: Steve Mason takes blame for loss

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Flyers Notes: Steve Mason takes blame for loss

Steve Mason is generally not fan of shootouts. And he’s certainly not a fan of being on the losing end of them, as he was on Thursday night.

Mason took responsibility for the Flyers' 4-3 loss to the Nashville Predators –- whether he deserved to or not.

“The guys gave me two opportunities to win the game, and I couldn’t do it,” he said. “So I let them down tonight.”

Predictably, though, his teammates didn’t see it that way.

“I don’t think it’s his fault,” Andrej Meszaros said. “He was great, we just didn’t play well enough to win. We didn’t play really well, and we had to come back again, and this time it didn’t work. You can’t play like that every time. You want to play with the lead, and the last few games, it’s not happening. It’s going to be tough during games like that.”

Mason stopped four of the shooters he faced, but allowed three goals. Only Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier were able to beat Predators goalie Carter Hutton.

“I don’t think he can worry about that,” Wayne Simmonds said. “He’s been saving our butts all year. It has nothing to do with him. We should have played a more solid 60 minutes in front of him.”

And the coach? Does he believe any blame belongs on Mason’s shoulders?

“No,” Craig Berube said. “It’s a team effort.”

Simmonds’ strong night
Simmonds put in yet another strong performance against the Predators, registering a goal and two assists. It was his second consecutive multi-point game and seventh of the season.

“He does a great job around the net, Simmer,” Berube said. “And he ended up getting that big goal, got us a point. He’s been very consistent for a while now, the whole line has.”

Simmonds now has 20 points (11 goals, nine assists) in his last 15 games. He credits his linemates for the recent success.

“I would say I feel good, but it has to go to the team and my linemates,” he said. “Me and Hartsy [Scott Hartnell] and [Brayden] Schenn have been playing together for probably the last month and we’ve been playing well. I’ve got to give a lot of credit to those guys.”

The save of the season
Michael Raffl was charging in on the Predators’ net with the puck in his position. Hutton was caught out of position -- and out of the net entirely -- thanks to a strange bounce on a wraparound behind the goal.

But somehow, Raffl didn’t score. Hutton lunged across the net to make the stop.

“I would rather call it a miss,” Raffl said. “I had the open net. The puck was bouncing right on my blade. He [David Legwand] just got a stick on me a little bit. It changed direction. I wasn’t aiming there. You got to give him credit. It was a desperate save. It was a nice save, I guess.”

Meszaros’ scoring touch
Meszaros didn’t have his strongest defensive performance of the season Thursday, but he has recaptured his offensive prowess lately.

The Flyers’ defenseman registered a goal and an assist against the Predators. He has seven points in his last five games.

“He’s confident with the puck,” Berube said. “He’s doing good things at the blue line with it, jumping up in the play like he did on that goal. He’s got confidence.”

Loose pucks
The game was the Flyers’ seventh shootout of the season. They’re now 3-4 in shootouts in 2013-14. … Thursday’s loss was the Flyers’ first loss to the Predators at the Wells Fargo Center since 2006. … Claude Giroux was 73 percent (16 for 22) on faceoffs. … The Flyers have scored a power-play goal in four consecutive games and six of their last seven.

Elements will play factor for both Flyers, Penguins in outdoor game

Elements will play factor for both Flyers, Penguins in outdoor game

PITTSBURGH – The ice on Friday afternoon at Heinz Field was watery and slushy.
 
That’s because the city set a historic record at 78 degrees for Feb. 24.
 
So what were the ice conditions?
 
“They were pretty good,” said Sidney Crosby. “It was pretty bright there. Started off the practice and the sun was beating down pretty good.
 
“I’ve played in a few of these and the ice was pretty good considering how warm it was. It’s supposed to cool down and I’m sure it will get better.”
 
The Penguins will host the Flyers on Saturday night in a Stadium Series outdoor game.
 
Pittsburgh took the ice Friday at 4 p.m. The Flyers got on the ice a little more than an hour later and things started to cool down.
 
“We had a pretty good practice given the circumstances,” Jakub Voracek said. “This is a little better setup than Philly. The fans are closer.”
 
It was much hotter when Pittsburgh took the ice, but the temperature was still warm after the sun went down.
 
Shayne Gostisbehere said, “It was hot for sure. … It was fun, but it was pretty hot.”
 
Defenseman Radko Gudas said the ice surface was, “playable, but a little rough.”
 
On Saturday, rain is expected, with temperatures falling to 42 degrees by 5 p.m.
 
During the game, which begins at 8 p.m., the temperature is projected to continue to drop and there will be wind gusts up to 31 mph. By the end of the night, the forecast says temps will be in the 20s. 

Players are more concerned about the wind than the ice at this point. Crosby, who has played in three previous NHL outdoor games, said wind is a huge factor. It happened to the Penguins at the 2014 Stadium Series game in Chicago.
 
“It can definitely be a factor,” Crosby said. “I want to say in Chicago that was something we kind of had to look at. We felt it a little more there compared to the other two [outdoor games]. If it going to get windy like that, it’s something to be aware of.”
 
It remains to be seen how the NHL will handle which team goes into the wind first.
 
“Yeah, the wind,” Penguins assistant coach Rick Tocchet of what element will be a big factor. “I hope you don’t have to backcheck. Who gets the advantage? They change in the third period. But who picks what end? There is a wind factor.”
 
Tocchet rated the ice Friday as “a little slushy.”
 
“It was good early and then it got tough because it was hot outside,” Tocchet said. “But we got a half-decent practice out of it.
 
“The one thing, the puck didn’t bounce, which was good. Players can adapt a lot better when the puck doesn’t bounce. When things bounce, it’s a tough night.”

Flyers GM Ron Hextall on trade deadline: 'We're not buying'

Flyers GM Ron Hextall on trade deadline: 'We're not buying'

PITTSBURGH -- When asked Friday night at Heinz Field whether the Flyers would be buyers or sellers at next Wednesday’s NHL trade deadline, Ron Hextall didn’t flinch.
 
He was adamant he won’t be a buyer. He also intimated he’s looking to sell and that these next two games before the deadline could impact that decision.
 
“We’ll see,” Hextall said. “We’re not buying. I’ve said that for a while now. We’re not buying. We’ll see where we’re at in a couple days. Like I said, tomorrow’s a big game. I have ideas and we’ll execute them depending.
 
“We’ll be making calls and getting calls and we’ll see what’s out there and see where we’re at as a team in the standings and make the appropriate moves.”
 
The Flyers also play Colorado on Tuesday, the day before the deadline.

“It could have some effect, it could,” Hextall said on whether the next two games will impact his decision-making at the deadline. “We’ll watch the standings closely and what we’re doing tomorrow night.”

Hextall made his comments Friday night while the Flyers practiced on the outdoor ice at Heinz Field for Saturday’s Stadium Series game against the Penguins.
 
The most obvious candidates for the Flyers to move at the deadline are defensemen Mark Streit and Michael Del Zotto and goalie Michal Neuvirth.
 
More than 10 NHL clubs have been scouting the Flyers regularly over the past month, home and away (see story).
 
Hextall has been saying for months he doesn’t like to make decisions based on “small samples.” Yet the Flyers have been very inconsistent the entire season, save for a 10-game win streak between November and mid-December.
 
They are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games. Of those seven losses, they have scored one or no goals six times. What does that say?
 
“It tells me we have to be more consistent,” Hextall replied. “It tells me what we’re capable of and at times we’re not playing anywhere near to that level. That’s been frustrating.
 
“I like our team. We’ve got some good players, but the consistency part, we have to level that out for sure, especially from now to the end of the year.”
 
Some NHL clubs -- Pittsburgh last season and Chicago this season -- have promoted scores of younger players onto their roster. The Flyers promoted Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny this season.
 
Why not promote some players from the Phantoms right now?

“Not to make us a worse team,” Hextall said. “If we make something happen and if we can bring someone up and we take a lateral move, yeah, that’s kind of where you want to get to.

“That’s why you don’t want to bring kids up, 20-year-olds that aren’t ready to play. You mentioned Pitt there, their guys that helped them last year are all 23 now except for the goalie. Keep that in mind. They were kids, but 23-year-old kids.”

The Phantoms are having a good season. They could go far in the AHL playoffs. Hextall said that wouldn’t prevent him from bringing players up, even if it hurt the Phantoms’ chances.

“Is it a factor? I guess at the bottom,” Hextall said. “My job is to do what’s best for the Flyers. Part of what’s best for the Flyers is having the best team down there that we can have to grow kids in a winning environment.
 
“That’s part of it. I wouldn’t not bring a kid up that’s ready to play because he’d be leaving the Phantoms, assuming you have a roster spot and cap space and the things that come along with that.”
 
Loose pucks
Jordan Weal (concussion symptoms) could play Saturday Hextall said. ... Konecny (ankle and knee) is ahead of schedule and could be back in four weeks or less instead of six weeks. He skated at least four times this week on his own.