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MASON TO START; BRIERE CLOSER; FOSTER A WINNER

Flyers turn to new goalie in biggest game of the season to date
Tuesday, 04.09.2013 / 1:46 PM
By Anthony SanFilippo - Philadelphia Flyers Inside Reporter / Flyers Inside Out
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Flyers Inside Out
MASON TO START; BRIERE CLOSER; FOSTER A WINNER

UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Steve Mason feels like he has something to prove – and no better way to do that than in what is a must-win game for the Flyers.

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette decided to end the 22-game starting streak of Ilya Bryzgalov Tuesday and will go with Mason in net against the Islanders, one of the teams the Flyers are trying to catch for a playoff spot.

“Mason was brought here to be part of a goaltending duo,” Laviolette said. “We didn’t want to change things up right away being on a [winning] streak and not getting him a practice. We wanted to make sure he was ready. Getting the work in last game and getting a good practice in is a good opportunity.

“There’s no question that Bryz has had a lot of work. Just with him coming in, getting that 20 minutes of work and having a practice – this is a better situation to come in. There’s no denying that Bryz has had a heavy workload here but after losing that last game… it’s a better situation for [Mason].”

And Mason wants to show that he can still be a viable goaltender in the NHL and will have to do it under a harsh spotlight tonight.

The Islanders are a talented offensive team who rank in the top 10 in the league in shots per game (30.6) and in power play percentage (21.2). So it’s safe to assume Mason will be tested.

He’s just the second right-hand-catching goalie to play for the Flyers in franchise history, joining Stephane Beauregard, however defenseman Kimmo Timonen said that doesn’t change anything when it comes to playing the puck and working breakouts.

So, the only question is, does the decision in such a crucial game come as a surprise?

“Not really,” said Simon Gagne. “Bryz has played so many games. Especially for a goalie – at some point you’re going to get tired. It’s good to get him a break. It’s a chance to have a goalie who has been a No. 1 in the NHL before who is looking for a chance to prove himself again. A lot of good things can happen from that. Maybe the break is exactly what Bryz needs so he can come back and play the rest of the games the rest of the season.

“It could be a win-win situation for us.”

With a regulation win, the Flyers will again close to within three points of a playoff spot. A regulation loss would leave the Flyers in a precarious position – five points out with nine games to play.

So, the pressure will definitely be there on the team, but especially on Mason.

“We all know what happened last night with[the New York Rangers losing],” Gagne said. “So there is a lot of pressure. Sometimes you see guys playing their best hockey when there’s pressure like that. I think [Mason] is very excited to play this soon and it’s going to be a good challenge for him.”

……………………………………………………..

Danny Briere skated for a second straight day with the team, and reported afterward that he felt good again and that he was inching closer to a return to the lineup.

Briere said he wasn’t sure when he would take contact drills in practice, but said it’ll be either tomorrow or Friday – depending on the decision of the training staff.

Briere admitted that he wanted to get back this week because he always likes playing in Buffalo and Montreal – two cities the Flyers are headed too this weekend, but he did add one other caveat.

“I always like playing against Ottawa,” he said. “I usually do well against them. Especially in Philadelphia.”

Briere does have 37 points in 43 career games against the Senators, fifth-most of any opponent Briere has played.

But since joining the Flyers, Briere has averaged a point per game against the Sens (8-9-17) in 17 games.

Needless to say, Briere’s return appears to be imminent, whether it’s Thursday or Saturday.

…………………………………………………………

With Louisville defeating Michigan in the NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship game last night, the Final Standings for the Flyers office pool are in – and the winner:

Kurtis Foster.

Foster had Lousiville to win it all, although he had Miami as the opponent in the championship game.

Actually, according to Brayden Schenn, who did all the math to figure out who would win the pool, Foster had the top spot locked up before the championship game even tipped off.

That’s because nobody picked Michigan, not even the second-place finisher Mike Knuble, who graduated from Big Blue.

“Yeah, it was a tough loss,” said Knuble. “But it was a great game.”

Schenn said the most common picks for a national champion were Louisville, Kansas, Ohio State and Gonzaga. Foster just got out ahead of everyone early and held on.

Foster picked several early upsets that helped his cause, such as Harvard and La Salle.

“I didn’t really have a great pool,” Foster said. “I had an average pool. But I think everyone else had a bad pool, so my average pool won it. I’m not complaining though… I’ll take it.”

To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email asanfilippo@comcast-spectacor.com or follow him on Twitter @AnthonySan37

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 82 28 58 7 86
J. Voracek 82 23 39 11 62
W. Simmonds 82 29 31 -4 60
S. Hartnell 78 20 32 11 52
M. Streit 82 10 34 3 44
B. Schenn 82 20 21 0 41
M. Read 75 22 18 -4 40
S. Couturier 82 13 26 1 39
V. Lecavalier 69 20 17 -16 37
K. Timonen 77 6 29 5 35
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 33 18 7 .917 2.50
R. Emery 9 12 2 .903 2.96
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