The Philadelphia Flyers had one of the worst starts to the season that you could possibly ask for. They started 1-7, with only two points in the first eight games of the season. It has been a tough hill to climb, but after tonight’s 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres, they have now gone 8-3-2 in their last 13 games and have finally climbed out of last place in the Metropolitan Division.
They’ve won five out of their last six games, and the streak can be credited to stellar goaltending between their duo of Steve Mason and Ray Emery. Last year when the Flyers struggled, it was because they had no defense and Ilya Bryzgalov struggled in net. But they tightened up the defense by bringing in Marc Streit, and now Mason and Emery have righted the ship as well. During the six game run, they have not allowed more than three goals, while Mason has made four starts and Emery has two, including tonight.
Each night during the six game stretch, whoever was in net between Mason or Emery turned away at least 24 shots. While the Flyers are taking advantage of their soft schedule of late with wins including the Sabres, Edmonton Oilers and Winnepeg Jets, it is still good to see strong goalie play, something that has been difficult for this team to find.
Mason is actually 10th in the NHL in Goals Against Average at 2.12 and ninth in save percentage (.932). On top of that, Mason has actually played better since Emery started getting more playing time. Emery was successful last year when he split the playing time with Corey Crawford. Now that Mason is getting some rest and Emery is getting some rhythm, both players are playing much better.
Now that the goaltending seems to be situated, the offense needs to continue to step up like it did tonight. Two goals from Matt Read were all the Flyers needed tonight, and it’s good to see the team turning things around and approaching the .500 mark with plenty of games left to play this year.