Mason will rest and recover while Emery excels

Flyers goalie Ray Emery "is the reason we won" on Sunday, teammate Steve Mason said.
Flyers goalie Ray Emery "is the reason we won" on Sunday, teammate Steve Mason said. (YONG KIM / Staff)
Posted: April 23, 2014

If the man they call Razor wasn't sharp in the net, goalie Steve Mason said, he would be more apt to rush back and return as the Flyers' starter.

But Ray Emery has arguably been the Flyers' best player in the first two playoff games against the New York Rangers, and he will start Game 3 Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center, with Cal Heeter as his backup. The best-of-seven series is tied at one game apiece.

Because Emery was playing so well, Mason said, there was no reason to expedite his return from an unspecified upper-body injury. He said he was aiming to play Friday in Game 4.

"Right now, the way Razor's playing, there's no hurry," Mason said after participating in the Flyers' optional practice Monday in Voorhees. "He's the reason we won [Sunday]. I think even if I was ready, there's no reason to take him out now."

Emery has seized the opportunity.

"It's the best time of the year; it's been a while since I got to play in a playoff series," said Emery, whose 4-2 win in New York on Sunday was his first playoff victory in exactly three years. It was also the first time this season he had made back-to-back starts.

Late last season, Emery hurt his groin, costing him a chance to be the playoff starter for Chicago. Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford was so hot in the postseason that Emery never got into a game after he regained his health. After a regular season in which he went 17-1 with a 1.94 goals-against average, Emery was the backup goalie in the playoffs, watching the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup.

"I'm a team guy and if the team's doing well, I'm happy," Emery said of last year's Cup run. "I had a great time during the playoffs."

As for this year's playoffs with the Flyers, Emery said, "I just want to fill in the best I can. I'm kind of a Band-Aid there while Mase gets better."

Said Flyers coach Craig Berube: "When Steve's ready, Steve's ready. Until then, there's nothing really to talk about."

The Flyers feel comfortable with either goalie.

"The whole year, every time Ray's been in he's been great for us," center Vinny Lecavalier said. "We have a lot of confidence in him."

Mason, who when healthy is more athletic and quicker than Emery, again said he was "doing a little better" than the previous day. He said playing in Game 4 was his goal and that he was "getting closer and closer to being 100 percent."

The 6-foot-4 Mason hasn't enjoyed watching the first two games from the press box.

"It's somewhere I envisioned myself when I'm 40 years old and not 25," he said. "It sucks watching, but at the same time, it's nice to see the team win yesterday and come back with the home-ice advantage."

Mason was asked why the decision not to play Tuesday was made so early.

"You know how you feel when you're done practice," he said. "And I feel good with the goaltending part of practice, and there are other things affecting the decision."

The implication: Mason would be more apt to try to play Tuesday if Emery was struggling.

If Emery was not playing well, Mason admitted, "there could be a little more urgency" for him to return. "But we don't have to cross that bridge because he's playing great."

As for his recovery, Mason said "some days are really good and others aren't great. Today was better."


scarchidi@phillynews.com

@BroadStBull

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