The Philadelphia Flyers have never been known for steadiness in goal, but they’re hoping that all changes this year.
When you run down the list of goalies who’ve led the way for Philadelphia, you get a laundry list of one-time hopefuls and more than a few has-beens. Guys ranging from Roman Cechmanek to Michael Leighton from to Brian Boucher to Ilya Bryzgalov have all had the chance to hold things down and ultimately come up short of a Stanley Cup.
This season, Philly is going about things in a way that seems familiar but somehow isn’t. The team is bringing back an old, familiar face in Ray Emery, fresh off a Stanley Cup victory with Chicago, to join Steve Mason to form a tandem that has some wondering why the Flyers keep doing the same old thing.
Their hope is that by putting their faith in a pair of guys who have used their stubbornness to stay in the NHL, the Flyers will frustrate opponents into losing. Can they pull it off? There are reasons for Philly fans to be hopeful.
When the Flyers acquired Mason from Columbus last season, they were getting a guy who was at rock bottom. From being a Calder Trophy winner as rookie of the year to losing his job to Sergei Bobrovsky, Mason’s seen it all. When he got to Philly, however, his numbers reached heights they’ve never seen before.
As for Emery, he teamed up with Corey Crawford in Chicago to win not just the Stanley Cup but also the Jennings Trophy as the league’s best goalie tandem. Going 17-1-0 during the regular season with a sub-2.00 goal-against average earned Emery respect enough to become a star again. He even netted a first-place vote for the Vezina Trophy.
Coach Peter Laviolette has one luxury with these two as his goalies: low expectations. The past few seasons with Bryzgalov in goal, many waited on him to be the dominating stopper he was in Phoenix again. That never happened, and the team bought him out to save everyone further headaches.
Now with Mason and Emery as his tandem, many aren’t expecting much from the Flyers in goal. Luckily for Laviolette, Emery can't wait to work with Mason.
With that sort of approach, it may fit into just how both goalies want to see things. After all, people gave Mason up for dead when he lost his starting job in Columbus, and Emery’s career nearly ended thanks to a degenerative hip condition.
Count the Flyers and their goaltenders out at your own peril. Their skills and their dogged demeanor might make them more dangerous than they appear on paper.