The Philadelphia Flyers are enjoying the offseason but it will soon be time to assess their players before training camp begins in a few months. They have seen Claude Giroux and Shayne Gostisbehere go through surgery and are hope that other injured players like Sean Couturier will be ready to get back on the ice before the 2016-17 season starts. These players made headlines during the regular season but there are other that should be recognized. There is always a chance that key players like Giroux or Couturier might be out again and that would require other players to stand up and take care of the holes. Those players are the Flyers goaltenders.
Flyers Goaltending Prowess
It was clear that goaltending was one of the strengths that the team had at its disposal. Goaltenders Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth both were top men in the net for the Flyers during different points in the season. It could be said that without the two men, the Flyers might not have brought the playoffs to Philadelphia. It would seem at time that both parties were competing for the number one spot in the net. Yet the team alternated them in the net, often for stretches at a time.
This idea of alternating goaltender works for them. It allowed Neuvirth to be between the pipes and when he needed a break, it would be time for Mason to take over. It worked for them to make it to the post season and it worked against the Washington Capitals until a heartbreaking Game 6 loss. According to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia, general manager Ron Hextall liked the competition of his two goaltenders. “To have inner competition is a good thing…..We’ve got two good goalies and I think, as we saw this year, it’s nice to have.”
[pull_quote_left author=”Ron Hextall”]To have inner competition is a good thing…..We’ve got two good goalies and I think, as we saw this year, it’s nice to have.[/pull_quote_left]
That kind of competition will obviously be back once training camp starts in the fall. Mason had a terrible start to the season but things started to look up. He didn’t play in October and it suffered in November. Then came the flu and that set him back even further. He went 2-6 in shootouts this season and that might just be his weakness. However, the second half of the season seemed to be when things came together for him. After a brief time with an injury, he came back in March and it was then that he shined. He went 6-4-2 during the final push to the playoffs and he proved to be the team’s MVP.
Neuvirth also put forth a stellar and record-breaking season as a goaltender. He was a great acquisition for the team and was undoubtedly one of the stars of the season. While Mason was out with personal issues, Neuvy was the all-star. He went 11-6-2 in the first half of the season and that helped the Flyers to make them a formidable team. Granted, he didn’t perform at the same level during the second half of the season but Neuvy make a very good case for being the number one goaltender going into next season. His save percentage was .924 and one of the best in the league. However, his biggest weakness is his health. He tends to have injuries that last for awhile and it’s been his Achilles’ heel. Despite his injury woes, he’s made a case for being the team’s starting goaltender.
Yet with all this boost in confidence with their goaltending, there is a lingering question. The Flyers have two stellar goaltenders on their roster. It’s really up in the air if they want to trade or let one go during this offseason. There is the risk that if you make Neuvirth the starting goaltender, he’s going to be okay unless he incurs a bad injury. Also if the Flyers do keep him and make him the starter, he’s going to want to have the starter money.
There are other goaltenders working with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms but they won’t be ready to be starting material yet for the team. For now, the Flyers have to decide what they’re going to do with Neuvirth and Mason. If they keep both, it’ll be interesting to see who will be the starter coming opening day of the season.