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While there are areas the Flyers will need to address in the offseason, for once it's not in net.

Saturday, 05.3.2014 / 2:05 PM ET / News
By Anthony SanFilippo  - Philadelphia Flyers Inside Reporter
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VOORHEES, N.J. – Steve Mason was easily the Flyers best player in their seven-game First Round loss to the New York Rangers – and that was despite only playing four games.

Yet, it was enough for everyone to watch and realize why Mason, despite sometimes pedestrian numbers in the regular season, will be their go to goaltender for the next three seasons at least, as part of his contract extension.

At 26, Mason is hitting his prime as a goalie, and what many teams have deemed a weakness of his – his glove hand – proved to be an outright strength in the playoffs.

His regular season numbers were O.K. – a 2.50 goals against average and a .917 save percentage have him right in the middle of the pack of goalies who played in more than half their team’s games.

But in the playoffs, he saw those numbers improve vastly.

Steve Mason left Flyers fans with a lot ot be excited about for the future with his play in four playoff games against the New York Rangers.

Sure, it was just four games but when your goalie posts a 1.97 GAA and a .939 save percentage in the playoffs – second-best to this point behind Boston’s Tuukka Rask by the way – it says something about how he handles a more intense spotlight.

And yet, he feels he can be even better.

Which is why Mason is going to focus on a more intense training regiment this summer in anticipation of a 2014-15 season for the Flyers that will certainly be looked upon by many with high expectations.

And Mason, who now knows for certain what is expected of him in Philadelphia as a starting goaltender, feels that he is up for that challenge the second time around after he struggled to meet lofty goals in Columbus following his Calder Trophy-winning rookie season.

“I’m six years older now, so aside from the hockey aspect, I think I’m more of a mature person,” he said. “When you go through difficult times in your life and you’re able to come out on top, you become thankful for things that you have.

“I said, I think it was halfway through the year, when I signed an extension here that I was very grateful to have a second opportunity to have an NHL career and knowing that feeling that you had when things weren’t going your way, now that things are finally having some positives, it’s a feeling that you don’t want to lose and you’d do anything you can to prevent that from happening.”

And Mason doesn’t mind the added pressure of playing in Philadelphia – unlike some goalies of the recent past.

“I’ve said it before, I’ve just had and unbelievable time playing in front of the fans here,” he said. [Ilya Bryzgalov] was a different person than I am. This is a tough spot to play, because there’s pressure all night from the fans who just want to see a hard-working team, hard-working individuals and for myself that makes it easy to get up for the games.

“When you’re going to the rink every night and you know it’s going to be sold out with passionate fans, as a hockey player that’s something that you want to have around as an environment. In Columbus, things were a little bit different. They didn’t have sold out buildings every night, whereas you come here and the place is jammed packed. It was fun to have that kind of pressure every single night.”

Mason feeds off pressure – which is definitely different from his Columbus days. Now, he wants to be the guy. He wants to be between the pipes no matter what – which is also why things were a bit hectic with his return from a concussion at the start of the playoffs.

Mason wanted to play. He wanted to play Game 1. He wanted to play Game 2. Heck, he wanted to start Game 3. Yet, each time, the Flyers forced him to stay out because he was still experiencing concussion-related symptoms.

“I was never slated to play Game 3 and I still could’ve gotten better,” Mason said. “I was at the point where I didn’t have headaches. Concussions are a weird thing, you have headaches some days, some days you don’t, so when I was backing up, I felt fine after morning skate so I had no problem backing up. Then the next day I woke up and had a headache and finally the morning of Game 4 I had some work done and haven’t had a problem since. Concussions are a different situation for every individual so it was a pretty unique situation.”

Mason wanted to start each game of the playoff series, but the Flyers smartly kept him out of the linup while he was dealing with concussion-related symptoms.

The work Mason had done was acupuncture in his neck and head. He claimed getting little needles in his head was a weird experience, but it seemed to work, because he’s been symptom free since.

Nevertheless, it’s going to be something the Flyers keep tabs on over the next few months, just to make sure symptoms do not return.

“We’ve had players that have had concussions who have had to move on and not play, and we’ve had players that have had concussions who have come back and not had any issues,” Holmgren said. “Steve’s was from the game in Pittsburgh… he finished the period when that happened. He came in, he had some issues, so we followed the protocol [and] continued to follow the protocol for the next couple days. He passed all his tests, and then we kept him out because it was more of a neck issue that he was dealing with.

“We felt he was fully cleared to play and fine to play. I believe he played quite well. We’ll continue to monitor it next year… when all our players come to training camp, they do their baseline test again at the start of a new year. As a league, we continue to look for ways to make it safer for our players in all aspects.”

And when Mason returns to training camp, it’s likely he’ll have a changed team in front of him. There are a lot of question marks and also some upgrades that need to be made. Regardless, he’s going to have himself ready to go and more so ready to play beyond the month of April for the first time in his career.

“Going into last summer, the situation was different,” Mason said. “I was coming into this season with a lot to prove and now going into this summer, it’s probably a little bit of the same feeling, I have to prove it all over again. That’s the nice thing about sports, there’s always something to play for when you don’t win in the playoffs there’s a lot to still prove to everybody else. I think going into this summertime there’s a lot to work toward and coming into the next season to get even better. “

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




1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69


C. Giroux 78 22 45 -8 67
W. Simmonds 81 32 28 -7 60
B. Schenn 80 26 33 3 59
J. Voracek 73 11 44 -5 55
S. Gostisbehere 64 17 29 8 46
S. Couturier 63 11 28 8 39
M. Raffl 82 13 18 9 31
M. Read 79 11 15 -5 26
M. Streit 62 6 17 -1 23
S. Laughton 71 7 14 -2 21
S. Mason 23 19 10 .918 2.51
M. Neuvirth 18 8 4 .924 2.27
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