When the Flyers decided to take a chance on goaltender Steve Mason, one of the many questions asked was if he could handle the pressure of playing in Philadelphia.
Maybe in the long run it was for the best that he got his Flyers debut out of the way in a relief appearance with his team already down by three goals on Saturday. He made the most of it, turning aside all nine shots he faced in the third period of Philadelphia’s 4-1 loss to Winnipeg.
“This definitely wasn’t the most pressure-filled situation,” Mason admitted in a CSN Philly report.
“My job was to just go in and close the door for the remaining 20 minutes. Obviously, this wasn’t the result we were looking for coming here [to Winnipeg].”
Mason won the Calder Trophy in 2008-09 with the Columbus Blue Jackets, but his career has fallen apart since then. Now he’s been given an entirely fresh start in a new conference.
“The Eastern Conference is a little bit different,” the 24-year-old netminder said. “The Western Conference is a lot more rush plays so for a goaltender it’s really managing rush speed.
“I tried to make things simple out there and overall it was pretty good. It’s something to build off of. Since the trade’s been down, I haven’t had a practice yet, so I’m looking forward to getting out there with the team and really starting to figure things out here.”
It’s not clear when Mason will get his first start with the Flyers, but Ilya Bryzgalov would probably benefit from a breather after playing in 36 of Philadelphia’s 38 contests.
The Carolina Hurricanes have recalled defenseman Ryan Murphy from his AHL conditioning stint.
Murphy ended up playing seven games and registering one assist during his latest stint with the Charlotte Checkers. The 23-year-old was the 12th overall pick in the 2011 draft, but he has yet to establish himself as an everyday NHL player.
Prior to his AHL assignment, Murphy played four games for the ‘Canes, logging an average ice time of just 13:06. He had one assist and was minus-6.
Carolina starts a three-game California road trip Wednesday in Anaheim.
The NHL has no plans to change its concussion protocol, even after Connor McDavid expressed shock at being removed from last night’s game in Edmonton.
“We have no intention of changing the standards that are employed based on the situation in the game or season,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told TSN.ca today.
McDavid was pulled from yesterday’s Oilers-Wild game with just over six minutes left in the second period. At the time, the game was tied at one and the Oilers were on the power play, seconds away from enjoying a brief 5-on-3 man advantage.
It was an NHL spotter who made the call to have McDavid pulled from the game, much to the 19-year-old’s chagrin.
“I hit my mouth on the ice,” McDavid said afterwards. “You reach up and grab your mouth when you get hit in the mouth. I think that’s a pretty normal thing. Obviously the spotter knew how I was feeling.
“Sh***y time of the game, too, I guess. It’s a little bit of a partial five-on-three and a power play late in the second period where if you capitalize, it could change the game.”
McDavid eventually returned and played 20:38 on the night, but the Oilers lost, 2-1, in overtime.
Though Daly conceded the NHL’s concussion rules remain “a work in progress,” he said the league is “comfortable with how the new protocol is working” and that it’s “always better to err on the side of caution.”
Related: NHL adding more concussion spotters this season
— Up top, a good scrap between Anaheim’s Kevin Bieksa and Calgary’s Micheal Ferland. Those two have a history dating back to the 2015 playoff series between the Canucks and Flames.
— What’s the Pittsburgh Penguins’ plan for Derrick Pouliot? That’s a good question, seeing as Pouliot was the eighth overall draft pick in 2012 and he’s only played one game for the Pens this season. Pouliot says he’s not hurt anymore, which seems worth mentioning seeing as he’s still on injured reserve. His coach, Mike Sullivan, says this: “He’s a very good young player, and it’s our responsibility to try and help him continue to grow and develop. … Part of that is obviously he has to play games. He has to get in some games here. We’ll work to do that.” (Post-Gazette)
— It’s getting down to crunch time for the NHL to make a decision on the 2018 Winter Olympics. Their CBA-related offer to the players has reportedly been rejected. To which the National Post’s Scott Stinson argues: Come on, NHL, you gotta be there. “Having the best hockey players in the world showcased at the world’s biggest sporting event, in a tournament that offers the best version of the game, an embarrassment of speed and skill, is a clear advertisement for the merits of the world’s best hockey league, even if the NHL shield is not formally a part of the proceedings.” (National Post)
— Bob McKenzie shares the story of Jack Han, who came to Canada from China as a youngster and is now on the coaching staff of McGill’s women’s hockey team. Han doesn’t have a traditional hockey background, but he’s learning how to use analytics and video to carve out his own niche. (TSN)
— Now that Brent Burns has signed, who are the top pending UFAs that could be had on July 1? Ben Bishop and Kevin Shattenkirk top Sportsnet’s list, but don’t sleep on T.J. Oshie, because the Capitals will need to get creative to keep him — especially with Evgeny Kuznetsov requiring a new deal. (Sportsnet)
— Nobody’s paying big bucks to watch the Vancouver Canucks anymore, with local ticket brokers reporting the lowest interest in decades. That’s mostly because the team isn’t very good anymore. But it’s also because there’s no young superstar like Connor McDavid, Johnny Gaudreau, Patrik Laine or Auston Matthews to watch on a regular basis. That’s what other teams across Canada have to sell. And it’s selling well in those places. (The Province)
Enjoy the games!
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara hasn’t been in the lineup since Nov. 22, but that all changes tonight when he returns for a key date against the Panthers at TD Garden.
B’s head coach Claude Julien called it “more than likely probable” (per NHL.com) that Chara will play for the first time since sustaining a lower-body injury six games ago. It’s a huge addition for a Boston defense that has been without its veteran leader and fellow vet John-Michael Liles, who is currently sidelined with a concussion.
As a result of those two injuries, Julien has been rolling with a six-man defensive unit comprised of Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Brandon Carlo, Joe Morrow and Colin Miller.
Krug saw an upward spike in minutes as a result, and it helped him get his season on track offensively — he has seven points in his last eight games, this after going scoreless through the first nine contests of the year.
Carlo has been receiving big minutes as well. The rookie blueliner played over 24 minutes in back-to-back games against the Flyers and Lightning last week, then had 23:33 in Saturday’s win over Buffalo.
Chara had been averaging just under 23 minutes per prior to getting hurt, so it’s safe to assume Krug and Carlo will go back to more conventional TOI tonight.