Flyers

2013-14 Flyers evaluation: Goaltending

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2013-14 Flyers evaluation: Goaltending

First of three parts, reviewing the Flyers' roster from 2013-14.

Goaltending just might have been the Flyers' greatest overall strength this past season.

It’s what saved them early. It’s what made them competitive down the stretch. It’s what gave them a chance in the playoffs.

The only question the Flyers have about this position going into the summer is whether they will re-sign backup Ray Emery.

If it means anything, Emery received strong vocal support from Steve Mason on breakup day.

“I hope he’s back,” Mason said. “First and foremost, he’s a great person. I think he was a huge part of us coming back this year.

“Myself, having a goaltender partner like Ray, who is extremely supportive, I learned a lot from him. The way he approaches the game -- he’s been through a lot in his career, not just in hockey but life in general. To have an older guy like that as your partner, I’d like to have him back.”

General manager Paul Holmgren has had discussions with Emery’s agent and said he would also like a full medical report before making a decision on a new contract.

There are about a half-dozen UFA goalies in the Flyers' price range if they can’t re-sign Emery.

Ray Emery
Age: Turns 32 in September
Record: 9-12-2
Stats: 1328:25 MIN; 2.96 GAA; .903 SV%
Status: Unrestricted free agent

A very different Emery was signed to a one-year, $1.65 million contract last summer. Different in how he presented himself from several years ago when the Flyers first gave him a try. A more humble, more professional, more mature goalie. Emery’s battle to overcome a career-threatening right hip injury had a lasting impact on him. It changed his outlook on life. Winning the Stanley Cup in Chicago allowed him to validate his career. He gave the Flyers exactly what they required: a reliable, competent, experienced backup. Emery no longer can go post to post -- his only flaw -- like he used to, but he was invaluable in many ways as the backup to Mason. For whatever reason, teammates didn’t give him the goal support he deserved in far too many games this season. Had they, his record would have been much better. He was very composed during key road games down the stretch, which is why coach Craig Berube used him. Holmgren said Emery never had any hip issues this season. Emery deserves to be re-signed, but it’s going to be tied to available cap dollars.

Steve Mason
Age: Turns 26 this month
Record: 33-18-7
Stats: 
3485:36 MIN; 2.50 GAA; .917 SV%
Cap hit: $4.1 million

After several decades of trying to find a young goalie to give the Flyers some longevity in net a la Ron Hextall, it appears the Flyers have finally found their man. Much like Jakub Voracek, Mason came here from Columbus as a project player and needed to give the Flyers a reason to believe. People were excited about the snippet he showed last spring in just seven games. Mason proved those outings were no fluke. He appears to be the real deal and was largely responsible for giving teammates hope early in the season when the club was a mess and trying to claw its way back into the playoff picture when the entire roster couldn’t score goals. Mason outplayed Henrik Lundqvist in the postseason and gave the Flyers every chance to win the series, despite playing through a concussion, which was not a wise decision. He was outstanding at times and came up big in big games. He and Emery found a way to co-exist without jealousy. They were a very good tandem in net. Mason’s new three-year, $12.3 million contract kicks in this coming season. He earned a bargain $1.5 million for 2013-14. 

Next: A look back on the defense.

Flyers-Oilers thoughts: Welcoming the best player in the world to Philly

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Flyers-Oilers thoughts: Welcoming the best player in the world to Philly

Flyers (4-3-0) vs. Oilers (2-4-0)
1 p.m. on NBCSP, NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports App; Pregame Live at 12:30

The best player in the world comes to South Philly today. Get your popcorn ready.

The Flyers, coming off a 1-0 loss to the Predators, host the Oilers in their first matinee of the season at the Wells Fargo Center. It’s Game 4 of the Flyers’ five-game homestand.

Let’s dive into some pregame thoughts before puck drop.

• Move over, Sidney Crosby. There’s a new sheriff in town. It’s time to anoint Connor McDavid as the best player in the world. Many already have. I’m fully on board now.

This kid is special, and each game he does something that blows your mind. On Thursday night, it was a ridiculous spin-o-rama assist against the Chicago Blackhawks.

What made the play exceptional was who he did it against, Blackhawks defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. Between the two are seven All-Star Game appearances, two Norris Trophies and one Conn Smythe Trophy, so that’s no joke.

McDavid has three goals and five assists in six games this season. He has 156 points in 133 career games. He’s 20 years old. He should be the face of the league yesterday.

Market him better. I don’t care that he plays in Canada.

• It’s time to put the Brandon Manning-McDavid storyline to bed. It was fun while it lasted, but it’s overplayed (see story). If Manning is in McDavid’s head, it’s not for the better.

McDavid scored a goal and an assist last season in Philadelphia in his first game against the Flyers since Manning broke McDavid’s collarbone with a clean hockey play.

Then, in Edmonton, McDavid had a goal and two assists. Manning played both games. So if anything, it’s adding extra motivation for the best player in the world.

• It appears Travis Sanheim will remain in the lineup, a positive for two reasons:

1. Thursday against Nashville was Sanheim’s best game.

2. Sanheim’s speed and skating is a plus when having to defend McDavid.

Will Sanheim see much ice time against McDavid? I sure hope not. But the Oilers are a decent skating team, and McDavid’s speed is insane. You want as much speed against them as possible.

• You sure hope Jordan Weal can return after missing Thursday with an injury to part of his body. Weal is an important piece for the Flyers, and without him, Dave Hakstol will have to shuffle up his lines. Simply can’t replace Weal with Jori Lehtera on the second line with Valtteri Filppula and Wayne Simmonds.

That unit against the Predators was a disaster. If Weal is out again, I’d insert Matt Read into the lineup. He’s better suited for what the Flyers are doing now than Lehtera.

The good news is Weal practiced Friday. He’s expected to play.

• Three random Flyers stats:

1. Jakub Voracek needs two more points to reach 500 in his career. He will become the 23rd Czech player with 500 career points.

2. Shayne Gostisbehere’s 10 points are the most by a Flyers defenseman through the team’s first seven games dating back to the 1987-88 season.

3. Michal Neuvirth leads NHL goaltenders with a .957 save percentage. He was the worst qualified goalie last season in that category.

• The Oilers again will be without center Leon Draisaitl because of a concussion. Draisaitl practiced Friday but is still feeling symptoms. He hasn’t played since Oct. 9.

• Kailer Yamamoto, the Oilers’ 2017 first-round pick, has seen an increased role with Draisaitl injured. Edmonton has four more games to decide whether it’ll keep Yamamoto or send him back to junior. Yamamoto enters today on a three-game assist streak.

Here is the Flyers' projected lineup:

Forwards
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Jordan Weal-Valtteri Filppula-Wayne Simmonds
Dale Weise-Nolan Patrick-Travis Konecny
Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Michael Raffl

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Andrew MacDonald
Shayne Gostisbehere-Robert Hagg
Travis Sanheim-Radko Gudas

Goalies
Brian Elliott
Michal Neuvirth

Scratches: Forwards Jori Lehtera and Matt Read, and defenseman Brandon Manning.

Best of NHL: Ovechkin wins it for Caps in OT over Red Wings

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Best of NHL: Ovechkin wins it for Caps in OT over Red Wings

DETROIT — Alex Ovechkin’s power-play goal at 1:56 of overtime gave the Washington Capitals a 4-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night.

T.J. Oshie forced the extra session for the Capitals, tying it with 1:01 left in regulation with a power-play goal of his own. Ovechkin drew a tripping penalty on Trevor Daley in overtime, then won it with his 10th goal of the season - a familiar slap shot from the left circle that beat Petr Mrazek to the glove side.

Tomas Tatar scored twice in the third period for Detroit. His second goal came on the power play after John Carlson was called for delay of game. But Dylan Larkin was whistled for the same penalty toward the end of the period, and Oshie was able to tie it at 3 with Caps goalie Braden Holtby pulled.

Darren Helm scored a short-handed goal for the Red Wings in the second. Andre Burakovsky tied it for the Capitals in the final minute of that period, and Jay Beagle added a short-handed goal of his own in the third for Washington (see full recap). 

Conor Sheary lifts Penguins past Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla. — Conor Sheary scored a power-play goal with 2:53 left to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 4-3 victory over the Florida Panthers on Friday night.

Sheary backhanded the puck past James Reimer.

Evgeni Malkin had a goal and an assist, and Sidney Crosby and Carter Rowney also scored for the Penguins. Matthew Murray stopped 28 shots, and Phil Kessell had two assists.

MacKenzie Weegar scored his first NHL goal and Aleksander Barkov and Jamie McGinn also scored for the Panthers. Reimer, who came in to relieve an injured Robert Luongo with 15:14 left in the third, made 11 stops.

Luongo made 33 saves before he left with a hand injury. He was hurt when Sheary backed into him, forcing his right hand hard against the post.

The Panthers tied it at 3 on Weegar's goal with 10:41 left. Weegar shot from the point and beat Murray (see full recap). 

Martin Jones makes 28 saves, Sharks beat Devils 3-0
NEWARK, N.J. — Martin Jones made 28 saves for his first shutout of the season and 16th overall in the San Jose Sharks' 3-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.

Melker Karlsson, Joe Pavelski and Joonas Donskoi scored and Justin Braun  had two assists to help the Sharks open a five-game East Coast trip.

Keith Kinkaid, the top goalie for New Jersey with Cory Schneider on injured reserve, stopped 30 shots as the Devils' three-game winning streak came to an end.

The Devils couldn't muster a strong push in the later stages against the rested Sharks. It was New Jersey's second game two nights following a 5-4 overtime victory in Ottawa. And it showed against the Sharks, who played a solid road game, pressed their advantage and solidly supported Jones.

Karlsson scored the lone goal of the opening period at 14:11 on a close-in shot following a slick behind-the-net setup pass from Tomas Hertl (see full recap).