Mason out; Emery to start Game 1

Posted: April 18, 2014

The Flyers, their No. 1 goalie injured and unable to play in Game 1 Thursday against the New York Rangers, put on a brave face.

Steve Mason, injured Saturday in Pittsburgh, is out. Backup Ray Emery is in.

"I don't think our team feels like it's a blow at all," Flyers coach Craig Berube said after Wednesday's practice in Voorhees. "Listen. There's injuries. Things happen. You're not always 100 percent. Good teams find a way to get it done."

In his only appearance against the Rangers this season, Emery dropped a 4-1 decision in New York on Jan. 12. Lifetime, he is 7-2 with a 1.87 goals-against average and .936 save percentage against New York.

"You are always trying to be prepared, and stay healthy and ready and fill in when needed; that was mainly my goal this year," Emery said. ". . . I am really excited about it and feel I can play well."

His teammates say they have his back.

"We have enough confidence and trust in whoever plays goal," winger Matt Read said. "I don't think our system changes at all."

"Razor has some experience in the playoffs," said captain Claude Giroux, referring to Emery by his nickname. "He's won a Cup [as a Chicago backup], so for him to bring that experience is good."

Mason will not travel with the team to New York; instead, he will receive medical treatment. The Flyers won't say whether or not he has a concussion.

"He's not 100 percent, and I said if he's not 100 percent he wouldn't play," said Berube, who kidded that the injury was "in his toe."

Mason, who was 2-1 with a 2.01 goals-against average and .937 save percentage against the Rangers this season, is listed as day-to-day. Presumably, he will join the team in New York for Game 2 Sunday if he is ready to play.

The 25-year-old goalie hasn't played in the playoffs since 2009, his rookie season with Columbus. He was not available for comment Wednesday. Rookie Cal Heeter will be Emery's backup.

"We're a team, and you have to fight through adversity some times and deal with it," Berube said of the injury, which could involve Mason's head, neck and shoulder.

Asked whether Mason might play in Game 2, Berube said, "I can't answer that question right now."

In 36 playoff appearances, Emery is 20-15 with a 2.57 goals-against average and .903 save percentage.

"Ray went to the Finals with Ottawa and was the starting goalie," Berube said. "He's been around."

Mason's injury has overshadowed the fact that the Flyers have had an almost nonexistent attack in games at Madison Square Garden this season. They were 0-2 there and outscored, 7-2.

"For some reason, we play run-and-gun" in Madison Square Garden, said winger Wayne Simmonds, adding that the Flyers need to play a more structured game.

Read said the Flyers must "play a smart, defensively sound game and take advantage of opportunities when they come."

In New York, where the Flyers have lost eight straight since 2011, "we try at times to force the issue too much instead of playing a little bit more patient and a better checking game overall," Berube said. "We want to be aggressive, but you want to be smart. I talked the other day about controlling your emotions and making sure you're doing the right things out there."

One of the Flyers' missions, Berube said, is to try to wear down Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh.

When you play against outstanding defensemen, Berube said, "you have to make him work. They're going to play 30 minutes, and the 30 minutes he plays, they have to be hard minutes. Not only being hit, but you have to make him work. We have to grind them out, make him stay out there, long shifts. That kind of stuff goes a long way, so it's important players are making him go back and making him work down low."

McDonagh and defensive partner Dan Girardi helped shut down Giroux, Jake Voracek, and Scott Hartnell during the four regular-season games, limiting them to a combined one goal.


scarchidi@phillynews.com

@BroadStBull

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