Flyers

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."

Best of NHL: Penguins blow lead, rally to top Rangers in overtime

uspresswire-penguins-team-celebrate.jpg
USA Today Images

Best of NHL: Penguins blow lead, rally to top Rangers in overtime

NEW YORK -- Sidney Crosby scored the tying goal with less than a minute remaining in regulation, Evgeni Malkin put in the winner 58 seconds into overtime and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the struggling New York Rangers 5-4 on Tuesday night.

Patric Hornqvist, Phil Kessel and ex-Ranger Carl Hagelin also scored for the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, who handed New York (1-5-1) its fourth straight loss.

Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh turned the puck over in overtime and Kessel set up Malkin for the game-winning goal. Just before that, the Rangers iced the puck, leading to a faceoff in their zone.

Michael Grabner put New York ahead 4-3 when he and David Desharnais completed a nifty give-and-go at the 8-minute mark of the third period.

Desharnais, Pavel Buchnevich and J.T. Miller scored in a span of 2:30 as the Rangers got three straight goals early in the second to take a 3-2 lead.

Penguins goalie Matt Murray and counterpart Henrik Lundqvist each made 28 saves in the first of four meetings this season between the division rivals (see full recap).

Devils top Lightning in shootout
NEWARK, N.J. -- Kyle Palmieri scored the lone goal in a shootout, lifting the New Jersey Devils to a 5-4 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.

Drew Stafford scored twice in regulation as New Jersey improved to 5-1-0. Palmieri and Brian Gibbons each had a goal in the first period, and Cory Schneider made 33 saves.

Vladimir Namestnikov, Ondrej Palat, Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos scored for Tampa Bay, which had its four-game winning streak snapped and fell to 5-1-1.

Kucherov's goal was his eighth in seven games. He has scored at least once in every game this season, and the 24-year-old right wing became the sixth player in modern NHL history to score at least one goal in the first seven games of a season.

Mario Lemieux, Mike Bossy, Wayne Gretzky, Ken Hodge and Tony Tanti are the others. Lemieux holds the record with at least one goal in the first 12 games of the 1992-93 season.

Peter Budaj made his first start of the season for the Lightning and had 30 saves (see full recap).

Anderson helps Maple Leafs blank Capitals
WASHINGTON -- Connor Brown scored the game-winning goal in the third period and Frederik Andersen stopped all 30 shots he faced for the shutout as the Toronto Maple Leafs continued their tremendous start by beating the Washington Capitals 2-0 on Tuesday night.

Toronto has won five of its first six games. Washington has now lost two in a row since top defenseman Matt Niskanen went out with a long-term upper-body injury.

After getting a promotion to the third line, Brown picked up his second goal of the season and broke a 0-0 tie with 14:07 left in the third. Brown corralled a rebound of Morgan Rielly's point shot and poked the puck between Braden Holtby's legs.

Holtby made 28 saves but couldn't help as the Capitals' offense couldn't cash in on limited high-quality chances. Nazem Kadri scored an empty-net goal in the final minute (see full recap).

Michal Neuvirth earns his Ric Flair robe as Flyers roll again at home

Michal Neuvirth earns his Ric Flair robe as Flyers roll again at home

BOX SCORE

Every season the Flyers come up with a unique prop handed down from one player of the game to the next following each home victory.

Tuesday night, it was goaltender Michal Neuvirth who was rewarded with the Ric Flair black and silver feathered robe, made popular by the WWE superstar. Neuvirth’s 40-save performance helped pave the way for the Flyers' 5-1 victory over the Panthers (see observations).

“I think Neuvy gave us some confidence,” Claude Giroux said. “He made some big saves for us. He was solid. We’re happy for him that he played a great game. We were hoping to give him a shutout in the end there. He stood on his head tonight.”   

The robe, hand-tailored by the daughter of Flyers head equipment manager Derek Settlemyre, seems rather appropriate in the manner in which the Flyers have body-slammed their opponents in their first two games at the Wells Fargo Center, outscoring Washington and Florida by a combined score of 13-3.

“I think we have a lot of depth. We can roll all four lines,” said Sean Couturier, one of 10 Flyers to register a point. “Our depth has been really good and we've got to keep it that way.”

“It’s fun when you’re winning and making plays. That’s the biggest thing,” said Shayne Gostisbehere, who scored his first goal of the season on a give-and-go with Wayne Simmonds. “As a team, we’re making a lot of plays and Coach is giving us the leeway to do that, and like you said, it’s fun hockey out there.”

The Panthers could have seized some of the Flyers' early momentum. With roughly 6:45 remaining in the second period, Gostisbehere broke up a potential 2-on-1, which led to Valtteri Filppula’s long stretch pass to Giroux, who was all alone at the Panthers' blue line. Giroux skated in and snapped a shot through Roberto Luongo’s five-hole to give the Flyers a 3-0 lead, when just seconds earlier the Panthers had a chance to cut the Flyers' lead to a single goal.

“It was up-and-down hockey,” Giroux said. “It was fun hockey to play and after we got that first goal, we kind of relaxed and started playing.”

Playing for the first time in 12 days, Neuvirth certainly needed a goal to relax. Not only was he fighting the puck early on, but also a few butterflies.

“When you don’t start for awhile, you start questioning yourself,” Neuvirth said. “I was a little bit more nervous than what I was used to before the game, but I handled it well.” 

Tuesday’s game may not have been predetermined WWE style, but the Flyers certainly followed Dave Hakstol’s script, as they had the Panthers pinned to the ice leading, 4-0, after two periods — scoring three of those goals off the rush (see highlights). Coming into Tuesday’s game, Florida led the NHL averaging 42 shots on net.

“I said it this morning, they’re a dangerous team,” Hakstol said. “They make a lot of plays. They put a lot of pucks to the net. Sometimes a shot chart isn’t everything. If you can defend and get a save when you need it, and then turn around in transition and get after them at the other end of the rink, you can generate some chances and we did that tonight.” 

As Neuvirth walked away for the night, he left the gimmicky robe hanging from his locker room stall.

It’s not exactly a look that would inspire confidence, especially with the words “Nature Boy” written across the back shoulder.

Simmonds update
Simmonds left Tuesday’s game for precautionary reasons with approximately eight minutes remaining in the third period because of a lower-body injury. He’ll be evaluated further over the next day or two.

Simmonds has missed just one game since the beginning of the 2015-16 season.

A point is a point
Defenseman Robert Hagg collected his first NHL point by simply getting in the way. Hagg collected the secondary assist after he blocked Mark Pysyk’s shot that led to a Flyers rush and Gostisbehere’s eventual goal.

“I mean, yeah, I’ll take it,” Hagg said. “It’s not going to say in the newspaper how I made it, so I’ll take it.”

With Hagg's assist, 16 of the Flyers' 19 skaters have recorded at least a point this season. Only Michael Raffl, Radko Gudas and Travis Sanheim have yet to crack the scoresheet.