Finding and keeping a reliable goaltender in the NHL is something that doesn’t happen too frequently these days. For the Philadelphia Flyers, it’s a mystery that was unsolved for a number of years. Sure, they had the occasional guy or two who would give them a nice playoff run, but they never possessed a guy who would give you a firm feeling of confidence, until now.
When Steve Mason first came into the league, he was a mere 20 years old, but he proved to all the critics that age was indeed just a number. He played in 61 games during his rookie season, posting a 33-20-7 record while recording 10 shutouts and putting on a very impressive 2.29 GAA. It looked like a match made in Heaven for the Columbus Blue Jackets; unfortunately, it didn’t really play out for them too well following that season.
When the Flyers brought Mason in towards the end of the 2012-13 season, the consensus around the Flyers’ fanbase was a bit puzzled. It didn’t take Mason very long to catch onto the Philadelphia fans though. In seven games, he went 4-2 with a 1.90 GAA.
It was a bit obvious that they were going to give Mason a legitimate shot at being the guy in Philly. Once the team moved Ilya Bryzgalov and and signed Ray Emery to a “try out” contract, that’s when the Flyers’ front office threw Mason a big bone.
That bone was worth $12 million. It was kind of ironic that the Flyers gave him a contract extension when they did; when Mason inked his new deal, he was playing the sloppiest of hockey he did all season. Nevertheless, you still saw flashes of what the 25 year old could be, and during the last stretch of the season, he proved to everyone that he was worth that extension.
Mason made some remarkable saves during his short playoff stint this season. He really showed that he indeed can perform under pressure and make the big saves when he needs to. In four starts, he went 2-2 and posted a 1.97 GAA, and had a save percentage of .939; a world of difference when compared to the numbers of his only other playoff run back in 2008-09.
At his age, Mason still has plenty of room to grow and get better. Considering what we saw out him this season, it’s safe to say that he could easily be a top five guy in a year or two.