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POST GAME THOUGHTS: FLYERS 2, KINGS 0

Mason the difference in a big road win for the Flyers.
Saturday, 02.01.2014 / 8:14 PM
By Anthony SanFilippo - Philadelphia Flyers Inside Reporter / Flyers Inside Out
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Flyers Inside Out
POST GAME THOUGHTS: FLYERS 2, KINGS 0

The questions have certainly swirled since Steve Mason signed his new contract.

Like sharks circling a leaky barrel of chum at seas, the critics have been looking for any and every reason to decry the contract extension as a misread by Flyers management.

Using a three game sample in which he was pulled twice, had very little defense played in front of him and an eyesore 5.28 goals against average and an .853 save percentage in those games the skeptics replaced the batteries in their megaphones and started to squawk.

But you had to know those statistics were not indicative of Mason’s game – certainly not the Mason who has been pretty darn good since coming to Philadelphia.

You had to know, based on his play in the first two months of the season, that Mason could put up polarizing numbers that would certainly bring about more cheers than jeers.

And Mason knew too - which became vividly apparent in the three games since.

Mason rounded off a darn good week of play making 35 saves to shutout the Los Angeles Kings 2-0 Saturday, stealing two points for a Flyers team that really struggled to get shots on net, posting just 13 tying a franchise record for fewest in a game.

So, it was up to Mason to make the difference.

And he did, thwarting several chances the Kings were able to string together, especially in the second period when things started to get hairy for the Flyers in their own end while they were nursing a one-goal lead.

Mason was a rock, and the Flyers leaned on him the entire game for support and he was able to keep the team upright in a critical game.

And now, after those three ugly games, Mason has posted two shutouts in the last three games, and played better than the numbers would indicate in the other and has turned that frown upside down (Anyone else remember Kiddie City?)

In those three games, Mason has a 1.35 goals against average and a .958 save percentage, his best three-game stretch since mid-November (1.30, .958).

The point is, when Mason was going like this in November is when the Flyers started their mad dash up the Metropolitan Division standings.

A repeat of that here over the span of the next several games can help the Flyers get a little bit of separation from the bulging pack of teams surrounding them in the playoff race.

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I no longer have a vote in the team awards at the end of the season, but if I did, I would really have to consider Wayne Simmonds as a strong candidate for the Bobby Clarke trophy as team MVP.

Aside from the fact that the guy never takes a shift off, he has really emerged as one of the most reliable offensive threats on the team.

He now has 40 points this season in 56 games (18 goals, 22 assists), which is a nice, but not eye-popping total.

Until you look more closely.

He only had one goal and four assists for five points in the first 16 games this season. That means since Nov. 12, he has 35 points in 40 games, approaching a point per game.

He only needs 10 points in the final 26 games – which seems very likely – to set a career high in points.

And the Flyers recognize what his contributions have meant.

With Kimmo Timonen sidelined with a lower-body injury in this game, Berube tabbed Simmonds as the guy to wear his “A” as an alternate captain.

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NOTES: There’s no stats to really point to to highlight this, so you’ll have to trust me – Michael Raffl had another fine game on the fourth line. Good pressure, good chances, Good defense, good skating. In short, Craig Berube is getting good shifts out of the fourth line now that Raffl is centering it… Andrej Meszaros replaced Timonen in the lineup on defense… Zac Rinaldo led the Flyers in hits with six… The pairing of Erik Gustafsson and Luke Schenn has quietly been playing much better. They both had more than 20 minutes of ice time. Schenn had three hits. Gustafsson had three blocks.

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

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 PIT 30 20 6 4 98 71 44
2 TBL 33 20 10 3 110 87 43
3 NYI 31 21 10 0 99 89 42
4 MTL 32 20 10 2 87 80 42
5 DET 32 17 7 8 92 80 42
6 TOR 31 19 9 3 109 87 41
7 BOS 32 16 13 3 81 83 35
8 NYR 29 15 10 4 89 79 34
9 FLA 29 13 8 8 66 75 34
10 WSH 30 14 10 6 86 81 34
11 OTT 31 13 12 6 82 86 32
12 CBJ 30 13 15 2 72 95 28
13 BUF 32 13 17 2 62 100 28
14 NJD 33 11 16 6 74 96 28
15 PHI 30 11 14 5 80 90 27
16 CAR 30 8 19 3 62 87 19

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Voracek 30 11 26 8 37
C. Giroux 30 8 27 7 35
W. Simmonds 30 14 8 3 22
B. Schenn 30 9 13 6 22
M. Streit 30 4 15 4 19
S. Couturier 30 7 8 -1 15
M. Read 30 3 8 -6 11
M. Raffl 22 8 1 2 9
M. Del Zotto 24 2 6 -6 8
N. Schultz 29 0 7 7 7
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 6 10 4 .918 2.58
R. Emery 5 4 1 .899 3.05
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