Emery to start in Game 1 at New York on Thursday
Flyers head coach announces that Steve Mason is out of the line-up and Cal Heeter will back up Emery in series opener
VOORHEES, N.J. -- Ray Emery will start in goal for the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday in Game 1 of their First Round Stanley Cup Playoff series against the New York Rangers (7 p.m. ET, CSN, CNBC, TSN & 97.5 The Fanatic) at Madison Square Garden.
Starting goaltender Steve Mason is out with an upper-body injury sustained Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He remains listed as day to day. Flyers coach Craig Berube said Mason will not travel with the team to New York on Wednesday afternoon and instead stay behind to receive treatment.
Berube had said Tuesday he expected Mason to join the Flyers for practice Wednesday but Mason never made it to the Flyers' practice facility. Mason was on the ice for about 40 minutes Tuesday, but most of that time was spent doing individual work with goalie coach Jeff Reese. He spent about 15 minutes with the full team.
"He [Mason] just didn't feel good," Berube said Wednesday. "It's precautionary. We're doing what we can to help him do what's best. ... He's a day-to-day thing. Not ready to go. That's it. He's not ready to go, so he's not playing."
Despite losing the starting goaltender at the start of the postseason, Berube said the mindset is to keep marching forward.
"It's not disappointing," he said. "It's part of the game sometimes. Things happen. We have other people. We're a team. We've been a team all year. That doesn't change.
"Good teams find ways to get it done."
Emery has found ways to get it done in the postseason. He backstopped the Ottawa Senators to the 2007 Stanley Cup Final and was Corey Crawford's backup last season when the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup.
In 36 career playoff games, Emery is 20-15 with a 2.57 goals-against average, .903 save percentage and three shutouts.
"I get excited to play in these situations, especially the playoffs, especially with a group like this," Emery said.
In 28 regular-season games Emery went 9-12-2 with a 2.96 GAA and .903 save percentage. Included in those numbers was a 31-save effort in a 4-1 loss to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 12.
For his career, however, Emery is 7-2-0 with a 1.87 GAA and .936 save percentage in 10 games against the Rangers.
Regardless of the numbers, the Flyers remain confident in whichever goaltender plays.
"We have a lot of confidence in them," captain Claude Giroux said. "They played some big games for us this year. ... [Emery] has some experience in the playoffs, he's won a Cup."
Defenseman Mark Streit said nothing changes in his job description regardless of who is in net.
"For me it doesn't change anything in the game," he said. "You've got to talk to the goalie and the goalie's got to talk to you. If you do it on a consistent basis it makes the game that much easier."
With Emery starting, rookie Calvin Heeter inherits the backup role. Heeter made his first NHL start in the regular-season finale against the Carolina Hurricanes. He allowed four goals on the first 14 shots he faced but recovered to hold the Hurricanes to one goal over the final 24:43 of regulation and overtime in what ended as a 6-5 shootout loss.
"It's important he got a game for sure," Berube said. "I think he definitely will feel more comfortable for sure."
Berube said he feels comfortable with his goaltending situation.
"Ray went to the [2007 Stanley Cup] Final with Ottawa and he was a starting goalie," Berube said. "He's been around. He's a very good goalie. ... He was in the playoffs last year, backing up Corey Crawford, and they won a Cup. He's done it all."