Steve Mason named Flyers' starting goalie for season opener
Steve Mason will be the Flyers' starting goaltender for tonight's season-opening game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Wells Fargo Center (7:30 p.m., CSN).
The Flyers made the announcement in something of an unusual way - by Instagram. (Note that there's some explicit langauge in the comments under the caption.)
Peter Laviolette's decision puts Mason squarely in the spotlight, but you might not want to read too much into it. As the Inquirer's Sam Carchidi noted in Wednesday's paper, the competition between Mason and Ray Emery to win the No. 1 job is still very much alive:
It may take a few weeks or a couple of months, so the opening-game starter against visiting Toronto isn't as important as which goalie seizes the opportunity.
"You're going to see a lot of both goaltenders," Laviolette said after Tuesday's practice in Voorhees. "We plan on utilizing them, and I think it'll be advantageous to keep our goalies fresh and we have that luxury."
Still, the decision to start Mason tonight comes as somewhat of a surprise.
Emery had slightly better stats in the preseason: a 3.30 goals-against average and .873 save percentage compared to Mason's 3.67 goals-against average and .859 save percentage.
And Emery certainly has the better pedigree,. not least because he played a big role in the Chicago Blackhawks' Stanley Cup triumph this past spring. He compiled a 17-1 record and a 1.94 goals-against average in Chicago last season.
Mason had a 1.90 GAA in seven games with the Flyers last season after being traded here from Columbus. But he struggled at times with the Blue Jackets, posting a GAA above 3.00 in three of his four seasons there. Last year in Columbus, Mason had a 3-6 record over 13 games played, and a 2.95 GAA.
As Frank Seravalli in Wednesday's Daily News, both goaltenders are okay with competing for the starting job throughout the early stages of the regular season.
"Everybody wants to put that spin on it, but with 'Razor' and myself, our job is just to provide real solid goaltending for this season," Mason said. "I'm not out there trying to battle Ray or anything like that."
No one is putting much stock in who plays against Toronto, yet it will still generate plenty of interest.
"You always want to play," Mason said. "But it's just one game out of 82."
"It's one game," Emery said. "It's definitely a tandem. We both want to get in the net, but we both want to do well, as well. However that sorts itself out, we're fine with it as long as the team has success."