Philadelphia Flyers' Steve Mason Could Be Considered Division's Best Goalie

By Steven Smith
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Flyers‘ surging win streak came to an abrupt halt last night against the Los Angeles Kings. It was a game that left plenty of fans upset, but another loss before the season’s end was bound to happen. Ray Emery isn’t the most reliable guy the Flyers have in net. Any time he’s in net the confidence is shaken a bit, but when Steve Mason is in net, all is well. Mason has been so good as of late and his dashing saves along with his confidence are making statements around the NHL. He’s been going up to the doorsteps of the league’s best saying, “let me in boys.”  While he clearly isn’t the best in the league from a consistency standpoint, when he’s on, he’s just as good, if not better, than anyone in the league. Right now, he’s making a strong case that he might be the best goalie in the Metropolitan Division this year.

Now before we get started on breaking down some numbers, let me just apologize to Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders fans. As much as I’d like to include those two teams’ goalies in the conversation, it wasn’t even worth my time looking up their stats, so sorry. Cory Schneider and Martin Brodeur have made a nice two-headed monster for the New Jersey Devils, but their numbers aren’t even close enough to be included in the conversation either. Sergei Bobrovsky and Jaroslav Halak have had solid seasons, but unfortunately, neither one has played as much as the final three have.

Along with Mason, Henrik Lundqvist and Marc-Andre Fleury have been superb this season for there respective teams, opening up a nice discussion; who is the best goalie in the Metro Division? For an argument like this, you have to dig beyond the basic stats and see where the performance has been the best with who’s been a workhorse, who’s got the worst defense, you know, things of that sort. Let’s begin.

Basic stats would tell you that Mason isn’t the best of the three. Fleury’s 34 wins are more than Mason’s 30. Then again, Mason does have one more win than Lundqvist’s 29. Mason has one less shutout than the other two guys (4). Mason’s save percentage is tied with Fleury’s (.916), but Lundqvist’s is slightly higher at .918. Mason’s goals against average is just decimals off from the other two (2.53). Here’s where it gets fun, though.

Mason’s .437 win percentage against top 10 scoring teams in the NHL is better than both Fleury and Lundqvist. Of the three, Mason also has the second best win percentage against division foes (.555).

Lundqvist has faced 43 more shots than Mason but has also played in two more games. Mason, however, has faced nine more shots than Fleury in two less outings, but he has managed to put up the same save percentage as him.

Look, I know a lot of this seems a tad stupid and if the number of games played were the same it would be a much easier debate. However, I couldn’t help but notice all the angry Devils, Rangers and Penguins fans bashing Mason as of late, especially when he’s clearly been playing better than all those goalies combined recently. If you’re a Devils fan trying to back up one of your guys, stop.  Neither one of your guys is even close to being in the conversation. Instead, leave it for the Flyers, Rangers and Penguins fans to debate.

Again, in no way am I saying that any of these guys are better than the other.  I’m just trying to prove the point that when it comes to determining which player is the “best”, there is plenty more that should go into the conversation than just the basic stats. So, who do you think the best goalie in the Metropolitan Division is? Play nice, everyone.

Steven Smith is a Philadelphia Flyers writer for  Follow him on Twitter and “like” him on Facebook.

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