There is only a single game left in the regular season, and sadly, that means only one game left for the Philadelphia Flyers. After failing to make the postseason cut, the team has not struggled with stringing together wins, as their last three victories should send them highly motivated into Saturday’s game against the Ottawa Senators. But as with any Flyers game, the question of who to start in net is always the toughest choice. Both Steve Mason and Ilya Bryzgalov have had some recent success, but Mason is where the Flyers need to look if they want any success next year.
These two teams played two weeks ago and Bryz was in net, allowing two goals on 33 shots. But Mason has been the better netminder over the past few weeks, giving division rivals a run for their money and putting the pressure on Bryzgalov to perform at a higher level. Bryz has a .925 save percentage in the past two weeks, but only a .905 over the past month. Mason is rocking a .939 in the past two weeks and won three starts in a row. Coaches love the hot hand and right now Mason’ glove is on fire.
With a win over Ottawa on Saturday, the team will accomplish something they have not all year: win in four straight games. They currently have won five of their past six, a streak they could have used earlier this season. Starting Mason will secure the team as having a two-goalie tandem, something this club rarely ever has. The Flyers tied Mason up for a few years at a low cost, giving their higher-paid goalie a bit of incentive to keep his starting job. There was zero pressure from backups Michael Leighton or Brian Boucher all season, something necessary to ensure a goalie does not become complacent.
Starting Mason would send the signal to Bryz that this team loves winners and until he can prove that he won’t give up three easy goals a night, he will not start.