Flyers

Even with Michal Neuvirth re-signed, Flyers' future in goal still murky

Even with Michal Neuvirth re-signed, Flyers' future in goal still murky

Another season, another murky goaltending matter for the Flyers to sort out.

Sharing the net in 2015-16, Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth combined for a .917 save percentage, good enough for seventh-best in the league.

This year? In contract years for both goaltenders, the duo has posted a save percentage of .896, which is 29th in the league. 

While neither player has proven himself to be the franchise goaltender, that unclear future came a bit more into focus Thursday, when the Flyers handed Michal Neuvirth a two-year extension. 

"This season’s been up and down and I think I got better than I played and I believe that Hexy (general manager Ron Hextall) believes in me," Neuvirth said. "That’s why he got me the contract and for me, I’m just happy to be here in Philly."

With Anthony Stolarz waiting in the wings to make the full-time leap to the NHL next season, it appears for now that Neuvirth has beaten out Mason for the right to wear the orange and black next season. 

At this point, it seems likely Mason will be a free agent at season’s end. 

"I can't predict the future, other than the fact that I'm here to get the team into the playoffs," Mason said after Thursday’s optional morning skate. "That's my sole focus right now. With Neuvy signing, that's great for him, but at the end of the day, it doesn't really affect me. There's still lots of work to be done to get us into the playoffs."

Mason, who Hextall didn’t rule out re-signing is 17-17-6 with a 2.83 goals against average and a .903 save percentage. He’ll get the chance to show Hextall what he’s got tonight, making his second consecutive start after pitching a shutout vs. Colorado Tuesday. 

While Hextall said Neuvirth’s deal "doesn’t suggest we won’t sign Mase," Mason admitted the Flyers never reached out to start extension talks.

"We just had no indication it was in their cards," he said. "I basically just never even planned on it. It would be different if there were conversations but there were none, so you kind of put it on the backburner and focus on trying to win hockey games.

"My signing here I don't think was going to happen during the regular season anyway. We've had no talks. So at the end of the day, it changes nothing for me. My one goal is to get this team into the playoffs, have a playoff run and come summertime we'll see what happens.

"It doesn't change anything for me, it doesn't make me bitter or anything like that. If anything, it just clarifies things and puts your guessing game away from the forefront of your mind. So, clear mind the rest of the way here and hopefully we can have a strong run."

For Neuvirth, the new two-year, $5 million deal still does not guarantee his spot in Philadelphia next season.

With the upcoming expansion draft this summer, the Flyers may choose to expose Neuvirth to selection by Las Vegas in order to protect Stolarz.

"It’s out of my control,” Neuvirth said about this summer’s draft. “For me, I got a job for another two years and I’m going to try and bring my best every day."

Neuvirth, the subject of recent trade rumors, echoed Mason’s sentiment: Cloudy futures aside, there is still meaningful hockey left to be played.

"But right now, it’s over, deadline’s over, so now we've just got to focus on hockey and play our best and win hockey games and make playoffs for Philly," Neuvirth said.

With 20 games remaining, the Flyers currently sit four points behind Toronto for the second wild-card spot.

A win Thursday vs. Florida -- one of four teams they would have to leapfrog to make the playoffs -- would put the Flyers just two points back. 

"We're not 10 points out, we're four," Mason said. "So it's within reach. We have to go on a strong run here, we understand that. We understand it's not going to be easy. We can't have these lags where we win the last game, then go lose the next one. We have to put together some real consistent hockey. We need to be scoring goals, we need to keep them out of our net, and everybody honestly just has to focus on doing their individual task. Not worrying what other guys are doing, not getting frustrated with each other, not getting frustrated with the referees. Just focus on our game plan, execute it and if we can do that the rest will take care of itself."

Much like last season, the Flyers will need to catch fire and make a run to reach the playoffs. 

That all starts in net, with Mason and Neuvirth simply doing their jobs.

"The entire rest of the season is going to be like that,” Mason said. “We can get within one point, but the next night we might be three behind, who knows? It's going to be a see-saw battle but the only thing we can do is keep gathering points. In gathering points, we're going to take them away from other (teams), too. So it's simple -- do our jobs.

Why Flyers fans should be hopeful about post-NHL All-Star break playoff chances

Why Flyers fans should be hopeful about post-NHL All-Star break playoff chances

Today, we break down why Flyers fans should be hopeful for the post-All-Star break stretch. On Sunday, we’ll look at the reasons for concern.

Through 50 games, the Flyers have done two important things. They’ve played well within the division and have dominated at home. 

Those two trends bode well for after the All-Star break because divisional games become much bigger and confidence at home is paramount as the pressure builds.

The Flyers are 17-4-4 at home and 9-2-3 against Metropolitan foes. The marks are notable given the Flyers fell sorely short in those areas last season, when they finished 19-18-4 at home and 10-16-2 in divisional play.

Another positive is the Flyers are getting healthier after the break. Shayne Gostisbehere (knee) could be back Friday in the Flyers’ first game out of the bye week, while Carter Hart (abdominal strain) is expected to return not long after.

But what might be the Flyers’ most convincing piece of evidence for optimism is how they’ve performed against the NHL’s best teams. The Flyers have shown they can play with any club, which is huge for their own belief moving forward.

The Flyers are 11th in the NHL standings at 27-17-6. They've gone 9-5-3 against the top-10 teams and 5-1-1 vs. the top four.

Head coach Alain Vigneault has a history of taking teams to the playoffs, and doing so in Year 1 on the job. At his previous three stops (Canadiens, Canucks, Rangers), each of his first seasons produced playoff bids and at least one series victory.

Vigneault’s track record will be tested over the Flyers’ final 32 games.

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2020 NHL All-Star Skills: Travis Konecny finishes 7th in fastest skater; Mathew Barzal beats Connor McDavid

2020 NHL All-Star Skills: Travis Konecny finishes 7th in fastest skater; Mathew Barzal beats Connor McDavid

Travis Konecny went toe to toe with familiar faces in the 2020 NHL All-Star Skills Friday night.

Among the eight-player field for the fastest skater event, four players were from the 2015 draft class.

Konecny went 24th overall to the Flyers and Mathew Barzal No. 16 to the Islanders, while Connor McDavid was selected No. 1 by the Oilers followed by Jack Eichel at No. 2 to the Sabres.

The first-time All-Star Konecny couldn't take down McDavid, but the competition's three-time reigning champ was dethroned by Barzal at Enterprise Center in St. Louis.

Konecny had fun in the event and scored during the goalie competition.

Right at the start line, I could see my parents, brother and girlfriend, so that was pretty cool — they were right there," Konecny said Friday, via Flyers senior director of public relations and communications Zack Hill. "I was just having fun with them, they're enjoying it just as much as I was. We had a little moment after I finished my lap and I think I was near the bottom, they're laughing and I was laughing. It was over with and I could enjoy the rest of the night.

Barzal took the crown with a time of 13.175 seconds, just ahead of McDavid.

1. Mathew Barzal, Islanders — 13.175
2. Connor McDavid, Oilers — 13.215
3. Chris Kreider, Rangers — 13.509 
4. Jack Eichel, Sabres — 13.540
5. Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche — 13.895
6. Anthony Duclair, Senators — 14.005
7. Travis Konecny, Flyers — 14.113
8. Quinn Hughes, Canucks — 14.263

Konecny will compete for the Metropolitan Division in the All-Star Game Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC, which you can live stream right here.

Here are more sights and scenes from Konecny's All-Star weekend:

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