Flyers' Mason gets chance to catch breath

Posted: March 07, 2014

STEVE MASON has started 10 of the Flyers' 11 games since Jan. 25.

It is Mason's highest frequency of starts this season, surpassing seven out of eight games from Dec. 12-30, though this number is slightly overstated with the Flyers' 16-day Olympic break in between.

His workload isn't about to let up, not with Ray Emery on the shelf again with a lower-body injury. In a strange way, the timing of Emery's injury has been fortunate for the Flyers.

They just entered a 9-day span in which they play just two games - at Toronto tomorrow and home against New Jersey on Wednesday - a rare break in the March schedule. After that, they will close with 17 games in 30 days.

"I think the games are stretched out enough here, so I think [Mason will] be fine," coach Craig Berube said. "Hopefully Ray gets better and gets back in. It's not busy right now, but it's going to get busy after this week."

Emery is officially listed as day-to-day. Berube said yesterday his injury isn't at all related to his degenerative hip disease, which required a scary bone-graft surgery in 2010. He practiced on Tuesday, but aggravated the injury, forcing the Flyers to recall backup Cal Heeter from the Phantoms. Heeter backed up Mason for both games last weekend, but Tuesday was sent back to Glens Falls, N.Y., when it appeared Emery had healed.

Heeter, 25, is an undrafted Ohio State product who spent time in the ECHL last season. He has never appeared in an NHL game.

"I've put a lot of miles on my car, but I'd drive back and forth every day if they needed me to," Heeter said after his first practice yesterday. "I'd like to get one [game]. But I know the team is fighting to make the playoffs. I understand that's more important than developing a player for the future. If I get the opportunity to play, I'll be ready, but if I don't, I'll understand why."

There was plenty of chatter in the Flyers' dressing room yesterday about their first-period melee with the Capitals on Wednesday night that resulted in 56 penalty minutes and two game misconducts.

The Flyers were none too pleased with Capitals defenseman John Erskine targeting forward Vinny Lecavalier after Luke Schenn's hit. Lecavalier had fought just four times between 2008 and the beginning of this season.

In a Nov. 1 fight, against the Capitals' Steve Oleksy, Lecavalier suffered facial damage that caused him to miss a week and derailed part of his season. So, with Erskine tangling with Lecavalier, Wayne Simmonds tugged at Erskine's jersey while taking care of his own man in the scrum.

"Vinny is not known as a fighter," Simmonds said. "John Erskine, that's what he does. I was just trying to grab a piece of him. I didn't want anything to go wrong there. I won't say all rules don't apply, but that would be like [Jay Rosehill] going after [Nicklas] Backstrom.

"We're going to do something about [that]. We play for each other on this team. We're never going to let anything like that happen."

Lecavalier said the situation escalated quickly, but he was appreciative.

"I love those games," Lecavalier said. "Those two games [against Washington] were like playoff games. We were sticking up for each other, after fights and during hits. That's what good teams do."

After further review, Craig Berube said the Flyers' three third-period penalties against Washington made their play seem much worse than it actually was. He also voiced his displeasure with the calls . . . Andrej Meszaros was a healthy scratch in Boston last night, given time by Claude Julien to learn the Bruins' defensive system.


On Twitter: @DNFlyers

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