Steve Mason isn't Bernie Parent, or Ron Hextall. But, he's steady and Craig Berube is hoping that his starting goaltender's smooth demeanor will be a difference-maker against the New York Rangers as this first-round playoff series evolves.
Mason is making his first start in this series, due to apparent concussion issues. He's also making his first start for the Flyers in the postseason. The soon-to-be 26-year-old netminder last appeared in the National Hockey League playoffs, when his former employer (Columbus Blue Jackets) were swept (4-0) by the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Quarter-Finals in the spring of 2009.
The Flyers had plenty of offensive depth in the regular season, sporting seven players with 20, or more, goals. But, Philadelphia has only put six pucks past Henrik Lundqvist in this series. While margins of victory can always be slight, it's crucial for this Philadelphia team to make a three-period push on the offensive side.
Alain Vigneault’s squad has masterfully blocked an inordinate number of shots each game and has obviously focused on physically abusing Claude Giroux in order to neutralize his playmaking ability. If the Flyers can't adapt their efforts in the Rangers' offensive zone, everyone, including the captain, will making early and unwanted off-season plans.
Berube's exceptional work saved the season. He steadied this erratic orange and black ship and found many creative ways to get the most from a roster that isn't overly-exceptional.
A brutal 1-7 start, which was the worst in franchise history, seemed to foreshadow another non-playoff spring. Matchups are key, as this Rangers' paring has proven thus far. With whatever transpires through the remainder of this series, the future of this franchise still looks good overall.