As much as the Flyers have struggled at times this season, it’s hard to look at the club and wonder where Philadelphia would be in the standings if it weren’t for goaltender Steve Mason. The 27-year-old has been among the best 5-on-5 goaltenders in the past two seasons and he continues to find his way onto the highlight-reel with desperation saves. Wednesday was no different.
With the Sharks breaking into the Flyers’ zone in the first period of Wednesday’s game, the puck was worked to the left wing boards where Sharks winger Patrick Marleau was able to wind up and unload a wicked slapshot that was blocked by Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn but found its way right onto the tape of San Jose’s Joel Ward.
Mason was all the way to his right when the Marleau shot came towards him and the deflection off of Schenn left the Flyers netminder completely out of position and gave Ward the entire net to shoot at. Ward didn’t score, though:
Mason’s incredible pad save was one of 29 he made on the evening as the Flyers fell 4-2, but the Flyers weren’t able to give Mason any run support. That’s been the story of Mason’s season. His 7-10-5 record, 2.85 goals-against average and .910 save percentage at all situations aren’t spectacular, but his play at 5-on-5 has been commendable.
Mason is averaging 31.3 shots against per 60 minutes at even strength and he has registered a .942 SP at 5-on-5. The only goaltenders with better marks at this point in the season are Detroit’s Petr Mrazek and Toronto’s James Reimer. The reason Mason isn’t piling up wins, though, is because the Flyers in front of him have been unable to score with the teams playing at even strength. The Flyers have scored just 1.59 goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 with Mason in net and Mason has allowed only 1.83 against, which ranks 12th out of 33 netminders to play 750 minutes at 5-on-5.
In Philadelphia, Mason has had a career resurgence and if the Flyers can build a strong team in front of him it may just be a matter of time before he starts putting himself back in the conversation for end-of-year award consideration.
(All advanced stats via Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com)