Steve Mason was the difference-maker in Friday's 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers at the Wells Fargo center. But, Craig Berube's team will likely need more than 'Mase' to drop the Blue Shirts in Madison Square Garden when the teams faceoff Sunday at high Noon on NBC.
Of course, it's statistically possible for any squad to comeback when trailing in a series 3-1, but the Philadelphia Flyers hardly were hoping to skate in that narrow lane. Their Game 4 victory turns this series into a 3-game contest, with two matchups scheduled in New York.
Mason's ability to quickly recover from whiplash, or a minor concussion, could be a series-saver. While Ray Emery played decently in the regular season and in the first round, the veteran (31) backup didn't perform at the same level as his 25-year-old colleague did this hockey year. However, 'Mase' now has one career playoff victory listed on his digital record, while 'Razor' sports 21.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the rink, the Rangers have and will continue to start Henrik Lundqvist. Adding the two victories he's earned in this series to his career total, gives one of the National Hockey League's best goaltenders a win-total (32) that matches his age. The Flyers will be hard-pressed to take this series if 'King Henrik' maintains the .927 save percentage and 1.76 GAA that he's generated through these first four games.
Former Tampa Bay Lightning employee's Martin St. Louis (5 points) and Brad Richards (4 points), reunited through an in-season trade and have led the Rangers offensive thrust so far. Along with Rick Nash (4 points), the former Columbus Blue Jacket, who joined New York last season, the Rangers' mature front lines continued to apply heavy pressure on the Flyers' crease. Despite these big names, it's worth noting that the Rangers haven't scored a power play goal (0-8) during the last two games.
If not for Mason's masterful efforts, New York would be seeking to end the series today. While Claude Giroux has been effective in winning faceoff draws (60.3 percent) and is a plus-3, G's ability to put one, or more, pucks past Lundqvist could quickly tint this playoff picture with orange hues.
These old-school rivals only finished two points apart (Rangers-96, Flyers-94) during the regular season. The loser of Game 5 faces elimination during a Tuesday evening in Philadelphia here in the spring of 2014.