The Philadelphia Flyers signed Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year, $51 million deal in the hopes that he’d end their goaltending issues. It didn’t work and after using a compliance buyout on that contract, the Flyers will enter the 2013-14 campaign with two promising and far cheaper options between the pipes.
Ray Emery and Steve Mason aren’t safe bets — they wouldn’t cost just over $3 million combined for next season if they were — but Philadelphia is hoping at least one of them works out. That’s not an unreasonable expectation.
Emery certainly seems worthy of a shot at the number one gig. The off-ice issues of his younger days appear to be a thing of a past. The 30-year-old has been through a lot, including avascular necrosis of the hip that threatened to end his career.
Instead he returned and has been working towards reasserting himself as a starting goaltender. He took a big step in that direction by posting a 1.94 GAA and .922 save percentage in 21 games with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Meanwhile, Mason is an enigma. He’s the man that led the Columbus Blue Jackets to their only playoff berth when he had a 2.29 GAA and .916 save percentage in 61 games as a rookie in 2008-09. That earned him the Calder Trophy, but his career has been a disaster ever since.
Brief moments of hope have been drowned out by rough stretches until the Blue Jackets finally dealt him to the Philadelphia Flyers for a 2015 third-round pick and Michael Leighton. The change of scenery seemed to suit Mason, who recorded a 1.90 GAA and .944 save percentage in his final seven appearances of 2013.
The question now is if Mason has finally been able to put his years of struggles behind him or if his time with Philadelphia merely coincided with another brief hot streak that won’t be sustained.
Both goaltenders have a lot to prove and plenty of personal motivation given their one-year deals. Both of them have been starters in the past and this is their opportunity to prove they deserve that position going forward.
No, the Nashville Predators did not forget how to score goals … or at least they were lifted from that amnesia on Wednesday.
Mike Fisher lifted the curse 13:52 into the first period of tonight’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. You can watch that rare beast in the video above.
They had been shut out for three straight games and pretty close to four in pure game time.
On this subject, PHT’s Jason Brough asked Predators GM David Poile if he was considering moving a defenseman to improve in another area earlier today.
Tyler Ennis can probably relate with the Buffalo Sabres’ opponent on Wednesday, as he’s struggling almost as much as the Nashville Predators.
Perhaps some of that has to do with health?
Whether that’s the case or not, Ennis is out for the Sabres tonight, as the team announced that he’s dealing with an upper-body injury.
The Buffalo News discussed Ennis’ struggles in this article.
“I’d say he’s pressing too much. You can’t make those plays in every situation and in every point you touch the puck,” Dan Bylsma said to the Buffalo News. “ … He’s just got to simplify his game. He is a special player who can make those plays, but he can’t be trying to do it every time he touches the puck.”
He’ll need to wait a while to start getting things together, anyway.
You can check out tonight’s Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader on NBCSN, and you can also stream them online.
Here are the handy links for the two contests.
First, the New York Islanders host the Philadelphia Flyers.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
After that, the Chicago Blackhawks visit the San Jose Sharks.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
The San Jose Sharks will be missing a top-4 defenseman tonight when they host the defending champs from Chicago.
Justin Braun has an upper-body injury. His status is considered day-to-day.
“Brauny has been one of our unsung heroes here through the first quarter of the season,” coach Peter DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “He’s played some outstanding hockey. So, we’re going to miss him, but it’s a great opportunity for Mueller and Tennyson and one of these guys to establish themselves. It’s a great opportunity for us to reward Dillon for how well he’s played.”
Against the Blackhawks, Brenden Dillon will take Braun’s spot on the top pairing alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Paul Martin and Brent Burns will stay together on the second pairing; and 20-year-old Mirco Mueller will skate with Matt Tennyson.
Mueller has played just four games for the Sharks this season. In his last game, Thursday in Philadelphia, he received only 9:13 of ice time.
Also tonight, new Shark forward Dainius Zubrus is expected to debut on the fourth line.
Related: Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer