Since the inception of the “shootout” following the 2004-05 lockout, the entire Philadelphia franchise has appeared to be snake bitten in that department. They could play the best game in the world, make one crucial mistake in regulation, and somewhat unfairly lose that extra point in the dreaded shootout (especially with Bryzgalov in net). Luckily over the past two games this clubs luck appears to be changing.
In Vancouver last night Steve Mason absolutely stood on his head (41 saves) as the orange and black got badly outplayed by the Canucks. But, combined with timely scoring by captain Claude Giroux and Brayden Schenn (with under a minute to play), the Flyers held on just long enough to get it to overtime in back-to-back games.
Then, there in the shootout, Mason continued his stellar play and Vinny Lecavalier netted the goal on a beautiful move. It was the type of win that looked like a back-breaker (Luke Schenn knocks puck in own net with 3-plus minutes remaining) and became a confidence builder.
In the prior, the club faced a familiar foe in Edmonton with Ilya Bryzgalov in net and at first it appeared as if he was a completely different netminder than the one we had seen for two years. His positioning was sound, his post-to-post speed was somewhat impressive, and he even made some highlight reel saves. But the Flyers continually peppered him with shots, found some chinks in the armor and took it to a shootout. And as Flyers fans we know how dreadful ‘Bryz’ can be one-on-one. This night was no different as Mason outplayed the former Flyer for the first of two straight shootout win.
Is this the start of a turnaround in an area the Franchise has always struggled with? Who knows, but it is obvious the orange and black are in much better hands Mason than good ole “Mr. Universe”.
Next up, the Flyers continue their west-coast swing with an important tilt in Calgary. It’s important not to take this club too lightly as they’re a gritty,young bunch with a nice mix of some budding stars and wily vets. A third straight win to start this road-trip would be huge towards building a playoff resume for these Philadelphia Flyers.
Ray Emery, who’s struggled mightily of late, gets the start and we need to see much more consistency from the talented veteran. Mason needs some nights off and Berube must have confidence in his backup. It may not seem like an important game, but it certainly is.