In a game the team needs, head coach Craig Berube made the interesting decision Saturday not to start No. 1 goaltender Steve Mason instead giving the nod to Ray Emery. With the playoffs approaching and the Flyers looking to find their stride, Berube’s decision to start Emery over Mason deserves a second look.
The 25-year-old Mason certainly didn’t play bad Thursday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Sure, he allowed two goals but the offense couldn’t solve Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and that was the real issue.
Mason enters the day with a 31-18-7 recorded touting a goals-against-average of 2.53 and a save percentage of .916 on the season. These are solid numbers for a Flyers goaltender at this point in the season. Hot goaltenders carry teams in the playoffs and the Flyers need Mason to get hot. It looked like he could be that goaltender when he started last Sunday against the Bruins stopping 27 of 30 shots but earned the shootout loss.
In his career against Boston, Mason is a solid 3-1-2 with a 2.28 GAA and a .931 SV% with one shutout in six starts. The numbers say Mason is more than capable of holding his own against the Bruins.
With all of that being said, Berube chose Emery for a reason.
Emery is coming off his second shutout of the season on Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues but the Flyers recently anemic offense couldn’t score so Emery got the shootout loss. Emery stopped all 28 St. Louis shots fired his way and stopped 38 of 41 fired his direction against the Los Angeles Kings in his previous start.
In short, he appears to be hitting his stride as the Flyers backup goaltender.
But looking at his career numbers against the Bruins doesn’t exactly make the 31-year-old Emery the clear-cut choice to start today. He is a pedestrian 2-3-0 in five starts against Boston with a 2.81 GAA and a .890 SV% with one shutout. Not terrible numbers but nothing worth writing home about.
Either way, Emery is the guy today for the Flyers. Once again, just like the other night, the goaltender won’t matter much if the Flyers are unable to score at the other end.