Steve Mason

Flyers win, lock up first-round match against Rangers


By beating their hated rivals the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Philadelphia Flyers ensured that they’d face another heated rival in the first round of the 2014 playoffs.

Their 4-3 overtime win against Pittsburgh clinched an opening series against the New York Rangers. The Rangers will have home-ice advantage in this series as the Metropolitan Division’s second seed. Some might view that as an especially noteworthy edge for the Rangers, as they’ve beaten the Flyers eight consecutive times at Madison Square Garden.

Chances are, the Flyers are far more concerned about starting goalie Steve Mason’s health than that statistical disparity. The 25-year-old suffered an upper-body injury and didn’t return after this collision in the second period on Saturday:

The physical ending of this game can be chalked up to a combination of that collision and the teams’ noted distaste for each other (although it probably comes down to the latter … probably). If the Penguins and Flyers manage to advance to the second round, hockey fans will get yet another wrinkle to consider in the event that the two cross-state rivals would face off.

Speaking of the Penguins, they await their next opponents based on this weekend’s results. The Columbus Blue Jackets would clinch a first-round series between the two if they can beat the Florida Panthers tonight.

Kassian suspended without pay, placed in Stage 2 of Substance Abuse Program

Anaheim Ducks v Vancouver Canucks
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Zack Kassian may have avoided major injuries stemming from his Sunday car accident, but it likely sent the signal that he may need help.

The response: he was placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA on Monday.

According to the league’s release, Kassian “will be suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.”

Speaking of being suspended without pay, here’s a key detail:

The 24-year-old ended up with a broken nose and broken foot from that accident. The 2015-16 season was set to be his first campaign in the Montreal Canadiens organization after a tumultuous time with the Vancouver Canucks.

Kassian spoke of becoming more mature heading to Montreal, but the Canadiens were critical of his actions, wondering how many wake-up calls someone can get.

In case you’re wondering about the difference between stage one and two:

Add Lecavalier to list of expensive Flyers healthy scratches

Vincent Lecavalier

Are the Philadelphia Flyers aiming for some sort of record when it comes to expensive (potential) healthy scratches?

While lineups are obviously subject to change, notes that Vincent Lecavalier appears to be among a rather rich group of Flyers who are expected to sit during their season-opener.

Also likely to be in street clothes: Sam Gagner and Luke Schenn.

That’s $11.3 million in cap space rotting on the bench.

“I really don’t know what to say,” Lecavalier said. “I’ll practice hard and be ready when they call me up.”

The quotes from Lecavalier, Gagner and Schenn only get sadder from there, a reminder that there are human beings attached to these numbers – whether you focus on disappointing stats or bloated salaries.

Flyers fans with the urge to reach for an Alka-Setzler can at least take some comfort in knowing that the team will see $6.8 million in savings after this season, as both Gagner and Schenn are on expiring deals.

It could be a long season, though, and this Lecavalier headache may not truly end until his contract expires following the 2017-18 campaign.