It’s been a much-needed break for many of the players around the NHL over the past couple of weeks, but next week that break will be coming to a close. In what should be a jam-packed final two months of the season for many of the teams around the league, players are starting to get back into normal routines in anticipation of playing again. For the Philadelphia Flyers it’s no different. One player, however, should be prepping a little harder than the others — goaltender Steve Mason.
Philadelphia did a fantastic job winning games headed into the Olympic break, but as we all know, the momentum could be long gone. They are in the top half of scoring teams in the NHL. While the scoring will play a gigantic role in their success down these final two months of the season, it’s the goaltending that needs to be the nucleus.
Philly has been battling this year defensively, but most of the time the team has come up short. It seems like no matter what kind of line changes are made, the struggle is constant. With no serious signs of a trade happening anytime soon, the Philadelphia defense will most likely continue to be streaky. The Flyers rank 12th in the league for total goals given up (162) and 12th in league for the most shots given up per game (30.4). This can only mean one thing: Steve Mason needs to be at his best.
Mason, who has had a solid year for the most part, will arguably see his toughest competition yet done the stretch. Philadelphia is set to play 13 games against teams in the league’s top 10 for goals per game. Four of those games will be against divisional foes. Eight of Philly’s remaining 23 games will also be against teams in the league’s top 10 for shots per game.
The defense has looked solid in the past handful of games, but with a tired Kimmo Timonen who is still playing over in Sochi for Team Finland, Mason will have to be as focused as he’s ever been.