Both Steve Mason and Craig Berube believe the Flyers’ goaltending situation to be cut and dried. There is no guesswork - and in turn, very little intrigue.
Mason ruled himself out for Tuesday’s Game 3 against the Rangers, saying he is not fit to even dress as Ray Emery’s backup. He made the decision on his own, with his off-ice activity seemingly not up to snuff yet from his concussion-like symptoms.
“You know how you feel after once you're done practice,” Mason said, still appearing tired. “I’m feeling good with the goaltending part of practice. There are other things that affect the decision.”
Berube has made no promises to either goaltender. But that didn’t stop an almost comical exchange with reporters:
The Inquirer: Steve Mason said that if Ray Emery was not playing well, it would probably speed up his recovery. Do you feel the same way? If Ray was struggling, I mean he’s not, but if he was, would you be more apt to go to Steve?
Berube: “I don’t know. I don’t know. When Steve’s ready, Steve is ready. Until then, there’s nothing really to talk about.”
The Inquirer: How close do you think he is?
Berube: “He’s getting close. Like, I don’t know how close he is. I think it’s a day-to-day thing, like it has been. He’s felt better today.”
CSN: Is it all up to him?
Berube: “Not totally. But what do you mean all up to him?”
CSN: Other tests that he has to pass?
Berube: “Yeah. When he’s ready.”
CSN: You don’t really have a playoff history with goaltending. With that being said, do you typically like to go with one guy and ride him out for an entire series? Or when Steve is healthy, do you find a way to work him in?
Berube: “Ray’s playing right now. That’s it.”
CSN: So as long as you keep winning, he is the guy?
Berube: “No. I’m saying Ray is playing next game. That’s it. That’s where I’m leaving it. There’s nothing really else to talk about. The other guy is not ready, so I’m going to play the guy that is ready. And that’s it.”
Delco Times: For the other guy to be ready, does he have to have a couple solid practices with the team? Maybe even backup a game?
Berube: “Maybe. That helps, in my mind. He had the one practice up there in New York with the team, but... He’s not ready.”
Berube has left the door wide open. He is not committing to one goaltender or the other. He has no reason to answer hypotheticals.
For his part, Mason said Monday was “a step in the right direction,” said the decision is up to both him and management, and noted Emery was “the reason we won (Game 2).”
Berube is in a no-lose position. He can stick with Emery because he is playing well. He can stick with Emery because Mason is not ready. Or, he can go with Mason once he is ready - and set the Flyers’ standing in the series aside to opt for his No. 1 goaltender. These are the luxuries afforded a head coach whose team came back home with a 1-1 split from Madison Square Garden.
For Game 3, however, the answer was clear cut. Mason doesn’t even look close enough to being ready to make this a discussion yet.
For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers