Ron Hextall: Michal Neuvirth's deal 'doesn't suggest we won't sign' Steve Mason

Ron Hextall: Michal Neuvirth's deal 'doesn't suggest we won't sign' Steve Mason

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Steve Mason's future as a Flyer became rather bleak by the end of Wednesday's NHL trade deadline.

During a season in which the Flyers had to decide which, if either, of their two pending unrestricted free-agent goaltenders they would re-sign, the 28-year-old Mason seemed the logical favorite before the season began.

Except, Mason hasn't performed very well. Not that 28-year-old Michal Neuvirth has been that much better, either.

Yet, the oft-injured Neuvirth had the capacity to be a better salary cap fit in transitioning the Flyers to their future, younger, next goalie -- Anthony Stolarz, Alex Lyon or Carter Hart.

And that's what transpired as the Flyers re-signed Neuvirth to, according to a source, a cap-friendly two-year, $5 million deal on Wednesday morning (see story). That pretty much closes the picture for Mason, regardless of what general manager Ron Hextall said publicly afterward.

"We liked the term, and we liked the cap hit," Hextall said of Neuvirth's deal. "I did not want to go into July 1 with no goalie because that is a recipe for disaster. So we felt like this one was a reasonable deal, a reasonable term."

Now the Flyers have a goalie under contract for next season at a very low cost, one they can expose in the NHL expansion draft in June without having to expose Stolarz, which would have been their only other option.

That, too, crossed Hextall's mind.

"This gives us flexibility," Hextall said. "We had one choice before and now we have two. We have a goalie we feel very comfortable with. Neuvy has done a good job.

"Obviously,  the injuries, we talked about that. If it weren't for the injuries, we wouldn't be talking about $2.5 cap hit, probably. Again, for multiple reasons, I didn't want to go into July 1 needing two goalies and the expansion draft."

As for Mason …

"That doesn't suggest we won't sign Mase, but just that the timing," Hextall said. "I wanted to get something done before the deadline."

The fact the Flyers have not had any contract talks with Mason's camp speaks volumes as to the likelihood of him re-signing.

Oddly enough, Mason had a shutout against Colorado on Tuesday and will get the net against Florida on Thursday.

Neuvirth has been slightly more consistent this season -- save for injury -- than Mason, who played well during the 10-game win streak and then seemed gassed.

"Neuvy has played some pretty good hockey," Hextall said. "Last year, they both did a pretty good job of picking each other up.

"When you get two really good goalies, that is what you hope for and this year it is has been the opposite. Neither of them have been hot enough. In saying that, we need to help them out more."

The Flyers could still sign a goalie in free agency. As for who the younger goalie will be next season, Hextall didn't flat out commit to Stolarz. Or any of his prospects.

"I can't answer that question right now," he said. "We'll monitor how our kids do … I feel a lot better right now where we have one guy in the fold.

"We're in a lot better position than a day ago. I didn't like having two guys as UFAs. We like Neuvy's deal. It's a fair deal. And when he's playing hockey, he's pretty damn good."

Flyers stunned by their effort in bad loss at bad time

Flyers stunned by their effort in bad loss at bad time


DETROIT — The Flyers brought a cold engine to the Motor City and it took a good 40 minutes to finally get it started.

Sure, Dave Hakstol’s team rallied back from a two-goal deficit Tuesday to earn a point at a time when every point is critical, but losing a 5-4 shootout to a fragile Detroit team is unacceptable and unexplainable (see observations).

“Maybe we thought it was going to be an easy game,” Sean Couturier said. “We didn’t play the right way. We didn’t play hard. We wasted 40 minutes. We came back and got a big point, but we can’t be wasting time at this time of the year.”

On a night when the Flyers could have officially eliminated the Red Wings from postseason contention, they turned back the clock and made this Detroit team look more like the juggernaut that won back-to-back Stanley Cup championships 20 years ago. 

At least through the first two periods.

“The second period was god-awful,” defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said. “We really didn’t help our cause out. We weren’t pushing plays and we just weren’t battling out there. You saw in the third what we could do when we light a fire under our ass. It’s tough like that when you dig yourself a hole and you come back, you expend a lot of energy. The positive we can take is that we got a point out of it.”

You may have never known this was the same Red Wings team that, like the Flyers in the first half of the season, had dropped 10 straight with an 0-9-1 record. Detroit had been outscored a whopping 41-19 from Feb. 28-March 18.

The Red Wings had also returned from a four-game Western Conference road trip less than 48 hours prior to the opening faceoff.

With eight games remaining on the Flyers' schedule, Hakstol is also mired in a goaltending dilemma. Petr Mrazek was rescued from Detroit to be the savior in Philadelphia following injuries to Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth. 

After winning his first three starts, Mrazek’s numbers reek of mediocrity: a 2-5-1 record, 3.72 GAA and an .860 save percentage. Most recently, he’s been pulled in favor of Alex Lyon in two of his last three games.

“The second one is a bad-angle goal,” Hakstol said. “Obviously, he wants that one back, but we gave up a number of opportunities that he was very strong on.”

Mrazek was pulled from the game at 3-1, and before heading to the locker room, he expressed his disappointment with the coaching staff over a non-goaltender interference call during the Red Wings' third goal.

“I talked to Coach and I was just wondering about the goalie interference because someone had bumped in there during the shot,” Mrazek said. “It wasn’t anything like I was mad or something that I got pulled. I was just asking him if there was a goalie interference or not.”

The Flyers' shootout loss coupled with the Blue Jackets' ninth straight victory now drops the orange and black into wild-card territory (see standings).

If this is indeed a playoff team, it needs to repair what’s under the hood and fix it fast.

Panthers rout Senators after death of Karlsson's son

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Panthers rout Senators after death of Karlsson's son

OTTAWA, Ontario -- Jared McCann had a goal and two assists to lead the Florida Panthers over the Senators 7-2 on Tuesday night as Ottawa captain Erik Karlsson sat out following the death of his son.

The team announced the death of Karlsson's son before the game. Erik and Melinda Karlsson were married last year and announced in November they were expecting their first child in the spring. The team released a statement offering its "collective thoughts and prayers" and requested privacy for the family.

Keith Yandle, Nick Bjugstad, Evgeni Dadonov, Jamie McGinn and Frank Vatrano each had a goal and an assist for Florida. Colton Sceviour had the other goal while James Reimer made 33 saves.

Patrick Sieloff and Marian Gaborik scored for the Senators, who lost their second straight. Craig Anderson started in goal but was replaced by Mike Condon after allowing four goals on 17 shots. Condon made 19 saves (see full recap).

Blue Jackets extend win streak to 9
NEW YORK -- Artemi Panarin had three goals and an assist, Sergei Bobrovsky made 29 saves and the Columbus Blue Jackets extended their winning streak to nine games with a 5-3 victory over the New York Rangers on Tuesday night.

Markus Nutivaara and Alexander Wennberg also scored for the Blue Jackets, who have surged into a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. It is Columbus' longest winning streak since its 16-game run last season from Nov. 29, 2016, to Jan. 3, 2017.

Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad scored power-play goals and Kevin Hayes had a short-handed goal for the Rangers.

Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves in his first start since March 10 against Florida. Lundqvist was briefly shaken up when Matt Calvert upended him and knocked his helmet off with five minutes remaining.

With Columbus leading 3-2 in the third period, Lundqvist made a nice save as Cam Atkinson drove toward the net, but Panarin poked the puck free and in for his 24th goal at 11:19.

Kreider scored his 14th with 1:52 remaining to get the Rangers to 4-3.

Panarin added an empty-netter for the hat trick and his 25th of the season (see full recap).

Islanders jump all over Pens to snap skid
NEW YORK -- Mathew Barzal and Adam Pelech scored in the first period and the New York Islanders went on to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 on Tuesday night.

Anders Lee had a goal in the third period and Jordan Eberle added an empty-netter to help the Islanders snap a three-game skid with just their second win in 13 games (2-7-4).

Christopher Gibson, pulled in his last start after giving up five goals on 12 shots against Washington last Thursday, stopped 36 shots and has both wins for New York in its recent stretch.

Conor Sheary scored for Pittsburgh, which was 5-1-1 in its previous seven but fell four points behind first-place Washington in the tight Metropolitan Division. Columbus pulled into a tie with the Penguins for second at 87 points -- Pittsburgh holds the tiebreaker over the Blue Jackets.

Matt Murray, returning after missing nine games due to a concussion, finished with 36 saves for the Penguins (see full recap).