This week I have read multiple articles that were not written by Flyers writers. Other teams’ writers like to comment on the Flyers goaltending tandem of Steve Mason and Ray Emery. It is easy for an outsider to look at the Flyers goaltending situation and be critical. However, to say that the Flyers “are in desperate need of a number one netminder” and “their goaltending duo leaves much to be desired” shows very little knowledge of the Flyers current situation.
Whenever trade rumors begin involving a goalie, the Flyers are always thrown in the mix as a possible destination. This summer the rumor was that the Flyers would trade for Jaroslav Halak or Brian Elliott so that the Blues could make room for goalie prospect Jake Allen. The Flyers were also linked to Jonas Hiller of the Anaheim Ducks and Ryan Miller’s name is always being tossed around. However, if we take a look at each goalie, we will see that Flyers can be confident in their netminders and do not need to make a trade.
Steve Mason, 25, won the NHL rookie of the year award for his play in 2008-2009. Since that season he has had his share of struggles. He was traded to the Flyers last season at the trade deadline, and he has shined ever since. In nine games since coming to the Flyers Mason has gone 4-4 with a SV% of .938 and a GAA of 2.06. Mason has never let in more than three goals as a Flyer and has always given the team a chance to win. For those that say his final seven games of last year were an anomaly, he has shown that he intends to keep his play at a high level this year.
In the season opener Mason played solid. The first two goals against him were a result of coverage breakdowns in the slot. Those goals are not the fault of the goalie. They are a result of poor defensive play, either by the defensemen or the back-checking forwards.
In Sundays match against Carolina, Mason was the Flyers best player. Aside from a soft goal in the first period, Mason played outstanding. The second goal against was the result of a turnover that left a wide open Radek Dvorak in the slot. Mason played well enough to give the Flyers a chance to win, even when they were out-shot 34-18 and were shorthanded four times. He made 32 saves on 34 shots, keeping the Flyers in the game, even as they were thoroughly dominated.
Ray Emery, 31, went 17-1 during the regular season last year, posting a SV% of .922 and a GAA of 1.94. Emery played in 21 games last season (44% of the regular season games) before becoming the full-time back-up to Corey Crawford during Chicago’s Stanley Cup run.
In his first start for Philadelphia this season, Emery played much better than his stats would suggest. Even though he let in four goals, he still made many incredible saves and gave the Flyers a chance to win. On Saturday, the Flyers entered the third period down by one goal after being outshot 18-15 and shorthanded five times through two periods. Emery made many saves that kept the Flyers in the game even though Montreal was in control. The Canadiens fired 16 shots on Emery in the third period and some eventually got through, but even those that went in were not soft goals.
The bottom line is this, when the team only scores one goal per game, it does not matter if you have the best goalie in the world every night, you will not win hockey games. The Flyers problems are team defense, breakouts, and laziness. Thus far, as someone who has watched every minute of all three Flyers games, I would say that goaltending has actually been one of the team’s strengths.
So no, Buffalo beat writers, the Flyers are not interested in Ryan Miller or his attitude or his $6.25 million AAV contract that expires this summer. No, the Flyers do not need Jonas Hiller, or Viktor Fasth for that matter. St. Louis, if you need to move Halak or Elliott to make room for Allen, look somewhere else. We have Steve Mason and Ray Emery. We’re fine, thanks.