It’s only a small sample, but recently acquired goalie Steve Mason has played much better _ and has looked more confident _ for the Flyers than he did in Columbus this year.
His Blue Jackets numbers: 2.95 goals-against average and .899 save percentage in 13 games.
His Flyers numbers: 2.08 goals-against average and .931 save percentage in five games.
"There’s a lot of work to be done, but I’m definitely happy with the way I’m feeling about my game right now,” Mason, 24, said the other day. “I’m just trying to take it a day at a time, and make sure when I do have the opportunity, to work with the goaltender coach and take everything in.”
Goalie coach Jeff Reese has made some adjustments in Mason’s game.
“Off the rush, I’m not taking as much depth outside of my crease,” Mason said. “I’m just trying to stay back and stay patient and utilize the size I have. At 6-4, I don’t need to be playing outside the crease. I can stay back and give myself every opportunity to get across the other side of the crease in case there’s a cross-ice pass. When you’re able to get back and get set and wait for a shot, it makes it a lot easier to make the save.”
Mason is happy to be out of Columbus and thrilled to be playing in a market where the team sells out all of its home games.
“As hockey players, you thrive to play in an intense environment, and that’s exactly what we have here in Philadelphia,” he said. “The fans are passionate about their sport and as players here, we just want to have a partnership with the fans. There are going to be ups and downs, but we want to do everything we can to win each night.”
Mason and Ilya Bryzglaov have alternated starts over the last eight games. If that trend continues, Bryzgalov will face Jaromir Jagr and the Boston Bruins on Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center, and Mason would start against the visiting Islanders on Thursday.
“I’m just trying to continue on what I’ve started to build here _ working on my depth off the rush, just simplifying things in-zone and making sure when passes are made, I’m beating the pass to the new location and getting there set and ready for the shot,” Mason said. “So far, we’re having really good success with it. There’s going to be times when pucks go in, but you just stick with the course and not get affected by that. I’m just really enjoying being here so far.”
Mason recently signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal for next season.
“I’m playing more here than I did in Columbus, so I can’t complain at all,” he said. “The games that I’m not playing give me extra time in practice to start really becoming comfortable with the things we have been working on.”
Breakaways. Center Sean Couturier, who has had a disappointing second season, is finishing strongly; he has three points in his last four games….Rookie defenseman Brandon Manning had four hits and was plus-three in Saturday’s 5-3 win in Carolina…..With the Flyers eliminated from the playoffs, they will give the Kings a fourth-round draft pick June 30 from the Simon Gagne trade. It would have been a third-rounder if they made the playoffs. Gagne was scoreless, but fired 10 shots _ five on net _ against Carolina……Kimmo Timonen entered Sunday fourth among NHL defensemen with 29 points, three points behind Minnesota’s Ryan Suter…Mason on the Flyers’ defense, which includes several AHL callups: “I can’t ask for more from them. They’re competing, they’re blocking shots and doing everything we’re asking. It’s a great experience for them.”….The Flyers are 11th in the 30-team league in scoring (2.73 goals per game) and 25th in goals allowed (3.00).
Contact Sam Carchidi at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @BroadStBull.