Steve Mason gets hydrated as Flyers thirst for consistency

Steve Mason gets hydrated as Flyers thirst for consistency

VOORHEES, N.J. -- No matter how much he drinks, Steve Mason can't get his fill.

That pretty much sums up why the Flyers' goalie left Thursday's game in the third period against New Jersey with severe leg cramps.
 
Mason's cramping was the result of salt deprivation and subsequent dehydration. He says it's been an ongoing issue this season.
 
"I couldn't bend my leg after that goal [they scored]," Mason said. "I always struggle with cramping. I sweat a ton. I put as much fluid as I can in my body, but sometimes, I can't keep up with it.
 
"It's not necessarily dehydration, it's the amount I sweat and my salt level. We try to keep up on it and sometimes, it's hard.
 
"I drink a bunch of different salt drinks, Pedialytes, lots of things with electrolytes. The amount I drink during a game is ridiculous but the amount I sweat counteracts it."
 
Mason had an IV after the game to stabilize himself.
 
Maybe he should try some Italian wine?
 
"In the off-days," Mason said with a laugh.
 
Mason is expected back in goal Sunday night, as the Flyers host Carolina and once again attempt to get back into the wild-card picture.
 
The Flyers remain six points out but have been passed by Florida in the hunt and now have to hurdle four teams to claim the second wild-card spot. Carolina can actually tie the Flyers in points with a win Sunday night.
 
Mason was the goalie of record during the Flyers' dominant 4-0 win over Pittsburgh the night before they collapsed like a tent in the 6-2 loss to the Devils. The inconsistency in the Flyers' play this season has been maddening.
 
Since their 10-game win streak which ended in mid-December, the Flyers have won two in a row just once and three in a row just once.
 
That's it. No win streaks. Instead, they've had three, four-game losing skids amid their "win-lose" scenarios.
 
"The consistency is something we need to address," Mason said. "We can't go from having one of our best games of the year against Pittsburgh and then come around the next night against Jersey with that kind of outcome and overall team game.
 
"It's something that we continually seem to be talking about. That's what makes good teams and separates them. Consistency on any given night, what kind of effort they have."
 
The Flyers have not played well against New Jersey for a couple seasons now and frankly, have not played well in Prudential Center ever since the arena opened.
 
"If we had an answer to that, we would change something, to be honest," Jakub Voracek said. "Since I've been, and even when I was in Columbus, we didn't win many games there. I don't think we had that jump last game, which is weird because it's desperation mode right now.
 
"But sometimes, you can't do anything about it. You try to push and can't. We were tired. You could tell from the first shift."
 
Consistency -- or the lack thereof -- was general manager Ron Hextall's main concern a month ago and continues to bother him as the Flyers' playoff chances dwindle down the stretch.
 
"Everybody has to do a better job of mentally engaging into a game," Mason said. "Preparing for every single game to the best of your ability.
 
"Sometimes, when you are tired, those are the games where you have to have your mental game overtake your physical game. It's a matter of finding a way and it wasn't good enough."
 
The Flyers got away with it during their 10-game win streak because momentum, adrenaline and confidence can replace tired legs and win games you should lose.
 
Right now, however, the Flyers are lacking all three of those intangibles.
 
Has the mental preparation and mental toughness been missing most the second half of the season?
 
"That's a good question," Voracek said. "I would need a little longer to think about it. If you don't win, it usually because most of your guys don't play their best. Mental preparation, fatigued, bad luck, in the end, it doesn’t matter, you have to prepare."
 
There are 12 games left for the Flyers. They need help all around because too many teams ahead of them are playing each other at the end.
 
"Six points out, it's not bad, but it's not great," Voracek said. "We have to look at other teams and how they play. It's not only in our hands. You gotta look at the other scores, as well."

Loose pucks
Brandon Manning (right shoulder) skated and is expected back in the lineup. … Nick Cousins (upper body) did not practice. … Hakstol's line combinations remained the same. He said the loss wasn't the result of poor line play as much as a general fatigue throughout the entire team. … Monday's Flyers practice is at the Wells Fargo Center because of team picture day.

There's a new game in town: The Philadelphia Rebels

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John Boruk/CSNPhilly.com

There's a new game in town: The Philadelphia Rebels

The opportunity to watch a Briere play again in Philadelphia will be an exciting reality for hockey fans this season.

No, Danny Briere isn’t coming out of retirement as the former Flyers forward has committed to handling the day-to-day operations of the organization’s newest ECHL team.  

However, Briere will be keeping close tabs on his younger son, Carson, who’s currently on the Philadelphia Rebels' 30-man roster and is setting his sights on making the team’s final cuts during training camp.

“It’s great,” Briere said Monday. “Growing up here for most of my life, I love Philly. It’s fun getting to play in the same city that [my dad] did. Whenever I think of him playing, I always think of that playoff run [in 2010] for the Flyers.”

After spending the past two seasons at IceWorks in Aston, Pennsylvania, the NAHL’s (North American Hockey League) Rebels are moving their operation to the Penn Ice Rink at the Class of 1923 Arena, where they made the formal announcement on Monday. It will be the organization’s third different home rink in the past four seasons after relocating from the Rio Grande Valley in 2015.

“It was a no-brainer,” team owner Marko Dundovich said. “When the opportunity presented itself, it was very easy. I think it will give the boys a better opportunity to play, get them seen and I think it’s going to continue to grow here, and our business and organization will do much better here.”

The Rebels and junior hockey simply didn’t attract a broad appeal in the Philadelphia suburbs like ownership had hoped, and as a result, attendance lagged as the team typically averaged around 125 fans a game.

“It was the first time we tried Junior A hockey here,” Dundovich said. “If we had a 300-, 400- or 500-person fan base, we would have been OK in Aston, but I think it was tough to sell a junior hockey ticket in Aston. It’s a difficult sell in a small town.”   

Conversely, hockey fans in Philadelphia haven’t had much of an alternative to the Flyers since the Phantoms left the city in 2009 for Glens Falls, New York. Rebels forward Aaron Maguyon, who stays with former Flyers captain Keith Primeau throughout the season, feels the team cannot only fill the 2,500-seat ice rink, but the players will greatly benefit from the college vibe.  

“I think it prepares us for the future and playing college hockey, for sure, so in that way, it’s like a sneak peek for what’s to come," Maguyon said. "I think it helps pull guys closer together. We have restaurants we can go to or just activities we can do in the city."

According to the league website, the NAHL set a new single-season NCAA record with 280-plus commitments, and the Rebels had 12 commit to Divison I programs. Head coach Joe Coombs has built a tier-II junior hockey powerhouse over the past two years. Last season, the Rebels finished with the NAHL’s best regular-season record, advancing to the championship game of the Robertson Cup in Duluth, Minnesota, where they came up short in a 2-0 loss to the Lone Star Brahmas. 

“This is business,” Coombs said. “Let’s bring the game to the people. Over the last two years, we struggled with our attendance. I didn’t even know this place was here — UPenn hockey rink — and we couldn’t think of a better venue right here in University City to try and market our brand of hockey and bring our game to the people.”  

And who knows? You might just see a few former Flyers in the seats, as well.  

NHL Notes: Penguins sign defenseman Brian Dumoulin to 6-year contract

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USA Today Images

NHL Notes: Penguins sign defenseman Brian Dumoulin to 6-year contract

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin has turned his steady play for the Stanley Cup champions into a new contract.

Dumoulin and the team agreed to a six-year deal on Monday that will run through the 2022-23 season and will pay him an average of $4.1 million per year.

The 25-year-old Dumoulin had three goals and 11 assists during Pittsburgh's run to the Cup this spring and hasn't missed a playoff game during the team's sprint to back-to-back titles.

Dumoulin averaged a team-high 21:59 of ice time this postseason, and his plus-9 rating was best among Penguins defensemen. Dumoulin was forced to take on a larger roll this spring after injuries forced Kris Letang to miss the playoffs.

Predators: Watson signs 3-year, $3.3 million deal
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Nashville Predators have signed forward Austin Watson to a three-year $3.3 million deal keeping him under contract through 2019-20.

The Predators announced the deal Monday.

Watson will earn $1 million this season, $1.1 million in 2018-19 and $1.2 million in the third year.

The 25-year-old forward is coming off his best season yet with Nashville. The 6-foot-4, 204-pound Watson had a career high with five goals and seven assists in 77 games this past season. Watson scored four goals and had nine points in 22 playoff games helping Nashville reach the Stanley Cup Final.

The 18th pick overall in the 2010 draft, Watson had three goals and 10 points in 57 games during the 2015-16 season.

Now, center Ryan Johansen is Nashville's lone restricted free agent awaiting a new deal.

Sabres: Okposo says he’s healthy after concussion
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Sabres winger Kyle Okposo said he is fully healthy after a concussion led to sleeping trouble, significant weight loss and a trip to intensive care last March.

Okposo missed the final few weeks of Buffalo's season with a previously undisclosed illness. In a letter posted on the team's website Monday, Okposo said a routine hit in practice caused his mood to change and other problems that required hospitalization.

The 29-year-old said he lost his appetite, had a negative reaction to sleep medications and that at one point he weighed less than 200 pounds. He spent time in the Neuro Surgical ICU at Buffalo General Hospital to be stabilized. Okposo's playing weight is listed at 218 pounds.

Okposo played in a 4-on-4 summer league game in Minnesota with other NHL players last week and reported feeling great. New general manager Jason Botterill said Okposo was on track to be ready for training camp.

"I've worked with a lot of different people -- concussion experts and people who have dealt with concussions themselves -- and I feel confident in the fact that I can play hockey again," Okposo said in the letter. "In fact, I know I can play again. I know I can play and not worry about hitting my head, which is a major hurdle for someone who's dealt with this. If I didn't feel 100 percent right now, that probably wouldn't be the case."

Okposo's last NHL game was March 27 against Florida. He had 19 goals and 26 assists for 45 points in 65 games during his first season with Buffalo. He signed a $42 million, seven-year contract with the Sabres last summer.

NHL: Gamble to get back Hall of Fame ring
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- A scuba-diving treasure hunter who found an American Hockey League Hall of Fame ring in one of New York's Finger Lakes is returning it to its owner.

Gary Gavurnik, of Auburn, New York, plans to return the prized ring to former AHL star Dick Gamble on Monday. Gavurnik found it with a metal detector in Canandaigua Lake over the Fourth of July weekend.

The 88-year-old Canadian-born Gamble starred for the AHL's Rochester Americans and retired early in the 1969-70 season. He was inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame in 2007.

Instead of wearing the ring, though, he gave it to his son, Craig, who wore it every day for seven years before losing it in the lake. He never told his dad and ordered a replacement.