Friday, December 26, 2014

Inside the Series: Rangers want to make it tougher on Flyers' Mason

Steve Mason, right, stops the puck with his stick as New York Rangers´ Benoit Pouliot, left, looks back for it during the second period in Game 4 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series on Friday, April 25, 2014, in Philadelphia. (Chris Szagola/AP)
Steve Mason, right, stops the puck with his stick as New York Rangers' Benoit Pouliot, left, looks back for it during the second period in Game 4 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series on Friday, April 25, 2014, in Philadelphia. (Chris Szagola/AP)

Easy on Mason?

One of the Rangers' goals Sunday is to get more bodies in front of Steve Mason, the 6-foot-4 Flyers goalie who stopped 37 of 38 shots to orchestrate the 2-1 victory in Game 4 Friday.

The Rangers said they made it too easy for Mason, who returned from an injury and started for the first time in 13 days.

"I think the biggest thing was we didn't get to second and third opportunities and didn't make his first game back too tough as far as traffic and screening," New York defenseman Ryan McDonagh said.

More coverage
 
2014-15 Flyers schedule
 
ARCHIVES: What caused rift between Lindros and Flyers?
 
DOWNLOAD: Philly Pro Hockey app ยป
 
Buy Flyers jerseys and other gear
 
Forum: Will the Flyers be a contender this season?
 
Latest hockey odds
"I don't think we made it difficult enough," said Ranger winger Rick Nash, who had five shots Friday and has a series-high 23. "We had too much stuff from the outside."

Mason has been a Ranger killer this season. In the playoffs, he has stopped 40 of 41 shots, a .976 save percentage. Including the regular season, Mason is 3-1 with a 1.71 goals-against average and .956 save percentage in five appearances against New York.

 

Slow starts

The Flyers have allowed the first goal in the last three games. They surrendered the first two goals in two of those contests.

In Game 4, coach Craig Berube thought his team was "a little too amped up, and they were a little too aggressive at times where you've got to be a little bit smarter. They picked us apart in the first period on the rush, and we've got to do a better job of being in better position to check without the puck."

The Flyers were outshot Friday in the first period, 16-6, but Mason kept them in a 1-1 tie.

 

It's a numbers game

The Rangers have lost 11 straight games after taking the lead in a playoff series.

Nash has 23 shots and no goals; Flyers winger Jake Voracek has eight shots and two goals.

The Rangers won 53 percent and 54 percent of the faceoffs, respectively, in Games 1 and 2 at Madison Square Garden, but the Flyers won the majority of the draws in Games 3 (54 percent) and 4 (57 percent) at the Wells Fargo Center.

In the series, the Flyers have had 28 giveaways - 13 fewer than the Rangers.

Entering Saturday, the Rangers were second among playoff teams, allowing just 24.2 shots per game in the postseason.

New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist has a 1.76 GAA and .927 save percentage in the four games.

 

Quotable

Captain Claude Giroux on the fact the Flyers are going into Madison Square Garden after ending a nine-game losing streak in that building: "The good thing is it will be talked about a little less, so it's going to be better for us mentally. We've just got to play our game and be responsible with it."

- Sam Carchidi

Latest Videos:
Also on Philly.com:
Stay Connected