Goalie Nods: Mason returns for the Flyers

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Mason looks for his first win vs. Rangers

Steve Mason will make his first start since Feb. 8 tonight when the Flyers play host to the New York Rangers. Mason allowed one goal on nine shots in relief of Rob Zepp on Thursday night. Mason is 0-2-0 with a 2.59 G.A.A. and .914 save percentage in two starts against New York.

Cam Talbot, who has shutout the Flyers twice this season, gets the nod for the Rangers.


Hurricanes at Islanders: Cam Ward vs. Chad Johnson

Devils at Blue Jackets: Cory Schneider vs. Curtis McElhinney

Coyotes at Bruins: Mike Smith vs. Tuukka Rask

Maple Leafs at Canadiens: Jonathan Bernier vs. Carey Price

Wild at Avalanche: Devan Dubnyk vs. Semyon Varlamov (unconfirmed)

Blues at Oilers: Brian Elliott vs. Ben Scrivens (likely)

Senators at Sharks: Andrew Hammond vs. Antti Niemi

Goalie nods: Zepp starts fourth straight as Flyers push for playoffs


All the latest from the blue paint…

Zepp goes for Flyers

Philly will turn to Rob Zepp for the fourth straight game when it takes on the Leafs in Toronto this evening.

Zepp, 33, has fared reasonably well in his first-ever NHL campaign. He’s posted a 5-2-0 record, though his GAA (2.80) and save percentage (.893) leave something to be desired.

At the same time, the Flyers need wins right now — they head into tonight’s action four points back of Boston for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference — and Zepp has provided those; he’s won two of his last three starts, which included impressive victories against the NHL-leading Predators and Washington, who currently holds the east’s other wild card.

For Toronto, Jonathan Bernier will be in goal.


Canucks at Sabres: Eddie Lack vs. Michal Neuvirth (more here)

Coyotes at Rangers: Mike Smith vs. Cam Talbot

Habs at Jackets: Carey Price vs. Curtis McElhinney

Hawks at Panthers: (No word on a Chicago starter yet) vs. Roberto Luongo

Blues at Jets: Brian Elliott vs. Michael Hutchinson

Wild at Preds: (Devan Dubnyk likely) vs. Pekka Rinne

Sens at Kings: (No word on an Ottawa starter yet) vs. Jonathan Quick

Wings at Sharks: (No word on a Detroit starter yet vs. Antti Niemi

The plummeting Coyotes are threatening to fall below the Oilers into 29th place


The Arizona Coyotes lost again last night, falling 5-1 to the Islanders in a performance that coach Dave Tippett called “very sloppy,” with goalie Mike Smith adding, “We were in the hockey game, and we just completely self-destructed.”

The loss was the Coyotes’ seventh straight in regulation.

They haven’t won since Feb. 9.

They haven’t won in regulation since Feb. 3.

So yeah, not good times for the ol’ Desert Dogs.

On the bright side, the Coyotes are threatening to take over 29th spot from the Edmonton Oilers, who, after last night’s win in Minnesota, are now just one point below Arizona in the overall league standings.


Why might that be important? Because finishing second-to-last means a 33.5 percent chance of drafting Connor McDavid first overall (13.5%) or Jack Eichel (20.0%) second overall, while finishing third-to-last means a mere 11.5 percent chance of winning the lottery and drafting McDavid, with no real shot at getting Eichel, assuming he goes second overall.

The Coyotes have two games left on their road trip, tomorrow in New York against the Rangers and Saturday in Boston.

‘Amazing how quickly we regained our confidence’ with Dubnyk, says Wild GM


The Minnesota Wild are 13-2-2 since acquiring Devan Dubnyk from Arizona in mid-January. It’s an impressive feat to say the least, and one that few saw coming — including the guy that went out and acquired Dubnyk.

“I don’t know that anybody would have envisioned how well Devan’s played and how well we’ve played since the trade,” Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said, per NHL.com. “I think our players were excited about Devan coming in and he played very well right from the get-go, and it was amazing how quickly we regained our confidence defensively and how much better we played collectively with the goaltending he provided.”

The Dubnyk acquisition has been absolutely vital for both the Wild and Fletcher. From a team perspective, the 28-year-old netminder saved what was shaping up to be a step-back season; after winning a playoff series for the first time in 11 years last spring, the Wild were expected not just to make the postseason this year, but challenge the Western Conference’s elite upon getting there.

And for Fletcher? Dubnyk (13-2-1, .936 save percentage, 1.64 GAA, five shutouts) got him out of a major jam.

Goaltending was a problem in Minnesota for most of last season and Fletcher didn’t do an awful lot to address it during last summer. He put faith in two older players with significant health concerns — Josh Harding and Niklas Backstrom — then engaged in a contentious contract negotiation with the untested Darcy Kuemper, who eventually signed and became the club’s No. 1 after Harding busted his foot in the preseason.

As a result, Minnesota’s situation in goal remained largely unchanged from ’13-14. And when things went south — Kuemper struggled, as did Backstrom — Fletcher was feeling the heat, and there didn’t seem to be any immediate fixes on the horizon as the team sunk to its low point, an 18-19-5 record, on Jan. 13.

Yes, Dubnyk had promise. He looked good in a small sample size as a Coyote, but he also was the same guy that played badly as he bounced from organization to organization last year, ending the season with Montreal’s AHL affiliate in Hamilton.

What’s more, Dubnyk was also one of just a few goalies available on the open market when the Wild made the deal. So without taking complete credit away from Fletcher, it has to be said that some of this is luck — a notion he doesn’t entirely disagree with.

“Let’s be honest, when you’re looking for a goalie in the middle of the season there is typically not many available,” he explained. “We called around and tried to find how many goaltenders were available, and the situation with Arizona, they were looking to get Mike Smith a bigger role and they were willing to consider a draft pick.

“I think it was a good fit for both teams, but timing is everything.”

Goalie nods: Ramo shrugs off trade talk, will start versus Rangers


News and notes from around the crease…

Ramo goes at MSG

Karri Ramo will get the start in goal tonight when Calgary takes on the Rangers in New York, and knows this opportunity — getting the nod ahead of Jonas Hiller, that is — could be viewed as a potential showcase for a trade.

Not that the pending UFA is letting it distract him.

“It’s not up to me,” Ramo said, per the Calgary Herald. “Maybe some players are affected by this, when they are going to decide where they want to go.

“All I can do is to play my best, work hard, and if it happens, it happens.”

There are rumblings around Ramo, and with good reason. He’s unrestricted come July 1, and it stands to reason he’s not in Calgary’s future plans — Hiller is under contract for one more year at $4.5M and the club is very high on 23-year-old Joni Ortio, an AHL All-Star this season who went 4-1-0 with a 1.98 GAA and .931 save percentage in a five-game NHL cameo earlier this year.

Calgary also has a history of flipping goalie depth at the deadline — last year, the Flames sent Reto Berra to Colorado in exchange for a second-round pick.

It remains to be seen if Ramo would garner similar interest on the open market. The 28-year-old’s numbers on the year aren’t great — 9-5-1, .904 save percentage, 2.69 GAA — but he could be seen as an upgrade at the backup position for certain teams.

That said, he would be an expensive option with his $2.75M cap hit.

(Also, no word yet on who’ll start for the Rangers.)


Canucks at Bruins: Eddie Lack for Vancouver, Tuukka Rask likely for Boston.

Coyotes at Isles: Mike Smith vs. Chad Johnson

Flyers at ‘Canes: Rob Zepp vs. Cam Ward

Sabres at Jackets: Michal Neuvirth vs. Anton Forsberg

Stars at Jets: Michael Hutchinson for Winnipeg, Jhonas Enroth likely for Dallas

Oilers at Wild: Devan Dubnyk for Minnesota, no word yet on an Edmonton starter.

Avs at Preds: Nothing yet from either team.

Habs at Blues: Carey Price vs. Jake Allen

Panthers at ‘Hawks: Scott Darling for Chicago, no word yet on a Florida starter.

Wings at Kings: Jonas Gustavsson for Detroit, no word yet on a L.A. starter.