Game Day Preview: Steve Mason – Philadelphia’s saving grace?

One day after a busy night in the NHL, the action gets dialed down to three games. The Leafs travel to Minnesota, the Stars to Edmonton, and the Flyers hope to keep riding Steve Mason’s hot hand to their third straight win.

By Nic Carafa, Garrett Perry and Curtis Ng

One day after a busy night in the NHL, the action gets dialed down to three games. The Leafs travel to Minnesota, the Stars to Edmonton, and the Flyers hope to keep riding Steve Mason’s hot hand to their third straight win.

MAPLE LEAFS (11-6-0) at WILD (10-4-4)
Last time these two teams met, it ended in a 4-1 victory at home for the Toronto Maple Leafs. At that point in the season, the Leafs were 6-1-0 while the Wild were 3-4-0. Things are different now, as Toronto has dropped two of their last three games while Minnesota has earned nine of a possible 10 points in November. The Wild are 5-3-1 against the Eastern Conference, but the Leafs have had success against the west, going 6-3-0. Tonight’s match could end up coming down to the goalies. Toronto boasts one of the best goalie tandems in the league while Minnesota’s Josh Harding leads the league with a 1.22 goals-against average and is second with a .947 save percentage.

Defenseman Clayton Stoner, who is recovering from a leg injury, is questionable for tonight’s game. Fellow blueliner Keith Ballard was put on IR yesterday. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

More bad news for the Leafs: Josh Harding, a native of Regina, Sask., is playing his way into the Olympic conversation. (Toronto Star)

Player to Watch: Jason Pominville. He has seven goals and 10 points in his last seven games. The former Sabre is also a Leaf-killer, with 19 goals and 49 points in 51 games against Toronto.

FLYERS (6-10-1) at PENGUINS (11-6-0)
Round 2 of the Battle of Pennsylvania goes tonight in Pittsburgh as the Penguins welcome a Philadelphia Flyers team coming off a 5-0 victory over the Ottawa Senators. Sure these long-established rivals are on opposite ends of the Metropolitan Division, but Steve Mason’s play is starting to turn heads in the city of brotherly love. In his first full season with the Flyers, Mason is putting up career numbers and putting his Calder-season numbers to shame (.930 SP and 2.15 GAA).

He has no control over how many goals in team scores, which is the problem. The Flyers ranked 29th is goals-per-game with a 1.82, and their opponent tonight is in the top 10 (2.88). No surprise here, what do you expect when your firepower is fueled by Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and James Neal just to name a few.

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The injury to Paul Martin has opened up a spot in the top pairing with Kris Letang. The Penguins will be looking to Olli Maatta to fill that gap, in what the team thinks will their defensive pairing of the future. (Pittsburgh Tribune)

Steve Mason will likely get the start tonight, after picking up his first shut out with the Flyers against the Sens last night. The Flyers will be looking to have their first three-game winning streak of the season tonight. (

Player to Watch: James Neal. This will be his third game of the season since coming back from injury. He’s assumed his spot back on the second line with Evgeni Malkin and Jussi Jokinen, while he jumps right into the first power-play unit. Like the Penguins needed any more extra offence. Hey Metropolitan Division, good luck.

STARS (8-7-2) at OILERS (4-13-2)
This will be the first meeting of these two cross-divisional rivals this season tonight at Rexall Place. Edmonton, owners of a dismal 1-5-0 record at home, will look to avoid being shutout in three straight games in front of the home crowd, as frustrations begin to mount in oil country. One cause for the team’s poor start, is the play of their three-headed goalie tandem of Devan Dubnyk, Jason LaBarbera, and Richard Bachman, who have combined for a league worst 3.95 goals against per contest. As a desperation move, the Oilers signed Ilya Bryzgalov to a one-year deal Friday, however, he is expected to get at least a few starts in the AHL first. Similar to the Oilers, Dallas has struggled to find consistency; so much so that it has forced head coach Lindy Ruff to shuffle his lines in recent games. Lineup aside, Ruff will hope his power play unit can improve upon its 2-for-29 in the past nine games mark.

Struggling sophomore Nail Yakupov voiced his frustration over his limited ice time Tuesday. (Edmonton Sun)

Lower body injury lands Ray Whitney on the injured reserve; Stars recall AHL leading scorer Travis Morin (Fox Sports Southwest)

Player to Watch: Jamie Benn. The Stars captain has eight points in seven career games in Edmonton, and heads into tonight’s contest tied for the team lead with 16 points.