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.

NHL Playoffs: Penguins chase Holtby, beat Capitals to take 2-0 series lead

NHL Playoffs: Penguins chase Holtby, beat Capitals to take 2-0 series lead

WASHINGTON -- Phil Kessel scored twice, Sidney Crosby set up more goals and the Pittsburgh Penguins chased Braden Holtby on the way to a 6-2 victory over the Washington Capitals in Game 2 Saturday night that gave them a commanding 2-0 lead in their second-round series.

Marc-Andre Fleury was brilliant again in stopping 34 of the 36 shots he faced for Pittsburgh, which also got goals by Matt Cullen, Jake Guentzel and Evgeni Malkin. The Penguins scored three goals on 14 shots on Holtby, who was pulled in favor of Philipp Grubauer after the second period.

Grubauer didn't fare much better, allowing two goals on nine shots. Matt Niskanen and Nicklas Backstrom scored for the Capitals, who outshot the Penguins 36-23 but still face an uphill task of trying to become just the 19th team to win a series after losing the first two games at home.

Guentzel added an empty-net goal to seal it for the Penguins, his playoff-best seventh (see full recap).

Pageau gets 4th goal in 2OT to lift Sens over Rangers
OTTAWA, Ontario -- Jean-Gabriel Pageau got his fourth goal of the game in the second overtime after scoring twice late in regulation, lifting the Ottawa Senators over the New York Rangers 6-5 Saturday in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Ottawa leads the series 2-0 despite trailing by two goals after Brady Skjei's score with 14:50 left in the third. Pageau cut it to 5-4 with 3:19 left in the period, then tied it with 1:02 remaining.

Pageau scored again 2:54 into the second OT, snapping in a shot during a 2-on-1 rush alongside Tommy Wingels. Pageau is the first Senator ever with four goals in a playoff game.

Marc Methot and Mark Stone also scored for Ottawa, and Craig Anderson had 43 saves.

Skjei had two goals for New York and Michael Grabner, Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan also scored. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 28 shots.

The series heads to New York for Game 3 on Tuesday night (see full recap).

Ron Hextall on landing No. 2 overall pick: 'This is a big day for our franchise'

Ron Hextall on landing No. 2 overall pick: 'This is a big day for our franchise'

You remember the 2007 NHL draft?

The Flyers were robbed that year in the draft lottery and were forced to settle for the No. 2 overall pick later that June.

They chose James van Riemsdyk and the Chicago Blackhawks — drafting first — tabbed Patrick Kane.

Well, the Flyers got some needed payback Saturday night in Toronto at the 2017 draft lottery.
 
While the Flyers didn't win the top overall pick in this year's draft, they pretty much won the lottery just the same, moving from 13th overall to the No. 2 selection (see story).

"This is a big day for our franchise," said general manager Ron Hextall, who was an assistant general manager with Los Angeles in 2007 when it was Paul Holmgren's team in Philadelphia.

"When the 13th pick went by there and we knew we were one, two or three, that was a huge move for our franchise. We couldn't be more excited."

New Jersey will pick No. 1 and Dallas will pick third. Neither Colorado, the worst team in the NHL, nor Vegas, the newcomer to the NHL, made the top three.

The Flyers bucked enormous odds to advance from 13th to No. 2. They had a 2.4 percent chance of pulling it off. They were nearly 89 percent certain to remain at 13.

Maybe their luck is changing.

"We had a lot of bad luck this year," Hextall said. "I'm hoping this is a turning point for some of that to be turned around. This is a big point for our franchise. We're obviously going to get a very good player and hopefully in years, we'll look back on this as a turning point for us."

Depending on what the Devils do, the Flyers, who need offensive pop, are expected to select either Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier, both promising forwards who are considered impact players.

While this draft is nowhere near as deep as last year's with Auston Matthews or Patrik Laine, it still holds quality in the first round and the Flyers are guaranteed a player who should make a difference.

"This isn't as bad as a draft as people say it is," Hextall said. "We felt with the 13th pick, we would get a good player. It's probably an average draft.

"The last couple drafts have been bumper but this is a good draft. Obviously, moving up to No. 2, we're going to get an even better player."

Patrick, from Winnipeg, Manitoba, played for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League and was named the top skater by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau despite missing parts of the season with a lingering groin/abdominal injury.

The 6-foot-2, 198-pound center had 20 goals and 46 points in 33 games and still was a consensus No. 1 or 2 player by most scouts. His lineage is excellent, as his uncle, James Patrick, played 1,280 games.

Hischier is trying to become the highest-drafted Swiss player in NHL history. Nino Niederreiter was taken fifth overall by the New York Islanders in 2010.

The 6-foot, 176-pound Hischier led the QMJHL rookie class with 38 goals and 86 points in 57 games this season.

Can either Patrick or Hischier play right now?

"I don't know who that player is going to be," Hextall said. "Any player, as you know from my history, they've got to come in and earn it.

"If we draft a player at No. 2 and he comes in and earns it, then he'll be on our team. If he needs more time, he needs more time."

That said, Hextall admitted his scouting staff had paid attention to pick anywhere from No. 1 to 13th or worse, especially after things started going south for the Flyers in late winter and the playoffs began slipping away.

Hextall would not compare this year's draft-eligible players, talk about them individually or indicate which player he felt might be available at No. 2.

For now, Hextall envisions keeping the second pick but wouldn't rule out trading down if the right offer was there.

"You can't say no to anything because you don't know what will come your way," Hextall said.

The Avalanche, who had the best shot at winning the No. 1 pick, will draft fourth. Vancouver is fifth and Vegas will pick sixth.

Hextall watched the draft lottery on TV after returning home from Finland.

"Sometimes you get some good luck and sometimes you get some bad luck," Hextall said. "This was a fortunate day for our franchise. This was a big one."