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Grading the Philadelphia Flyers' Goaltenders in the 2013-2014 Season

NEWARK, NJ - NOVEMBER 02: Goalies Steve Mason #35 and Ray Emery #29 of the Philadelphia Flyers
 skate off the ice smiling after a 1-0 shutout by Emery against the New Jersey Devils in an NHL hockey game at Prudential Center on November 2, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
Paul Bereswill/Getty Images
Dan FremuthContributor IIINovember 13, 2013

Over the last 20 years, it's seemed as if the Philadelphia Flyers have had nothing but problems with the team's goaltending.

Ironically, in a 2013-2014 season that's seen the Flyers win just five of their first 16 games, goaltending has been one of the few bright spots to date.

Both Steve Mason and Ray Emery entered the season in the midst of one-year contracts, and the stage appeared set for a genuine netminding battle.

So far, one has risen to the occasion while the other, albeit inconsistent, has provided a spark when called upon.

Here are the early grades for Philadelphia's goaltenders in the 2013-14 season.

 

Steve Mason 

Grade: A-

Honestly, what more could Steve Mason have done so far this season?

Having produced five of Philadelphia's six victories to date, the 25-year-old netminder is 5-7-1 overall this year while compiling a 2.15 goals-against average coupled with a .930 save percentage.

In and of themselves, those numbers aren't jaw-droppingly impressive, but they become so when one considers the patchwork defense the Flyers presently employ coupled with the fact that Philadelphia currently owns the fourth-worst goal differential (minus-13) in the Eastern Conference.

For a team that has scored an NHL-low 31 goals and has managed three or more goals in a single game just three times, Mason has given the Orange and Black a chance to win virtually every night.

The former Calder Trophy winner has surrendered two goals against or fewer in eight of his 13 appearances to date and has already recorded six 30-plus save performances. What's more, he's registered a save percentage of better than .900 in 10 of his 13 outings.

He's making the saves he's expected to make and sprinkling in more than a few superlative denials night after night.

Mason is currently in the final year of a one-year, $1.5 million extension he signed with the Orange and Black last April. But if the Oakville, Ontario native continues to perform the way he has so far, he'll likely be donning a Flyers jersey for many more seasons to come.

 

Ray Emery

Grade: C-

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 09:  Steve Mason #35 of the Philadelphia Flyers stops a shot in the third period against the Edmonton Oilers at Wells Fargo Center on November 9, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.The Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Edmonton
Elsa/Getty Images

Ray Emery has certainly not been the difference-maker Mason's been, but despite some early-season struggles, the 31-year-old netminder appears back on track.

Emery joined the Orange and Black via free agency last summer when the former Chicago Blackhawk inked a one-year, $1.65 million pact with the Flyers.

Coming off a season in which he produced a 17-1 regular-season record to go along with a 1.94 goals-against average and .922 save percentage, Emery seemed like the perfect kind of low-risk, high-reward addition to a Philadelphia roster often scrambling for goaltending solutions.

But Emery struggled in the early stages.

He allowed four goals against in each of his first three appearances and didn't manage a save percentage above .882 in any of those outings. He was guilty of soft goals in his first two starts against Montreal and Detroit and was then tasked with cleaning up the Flyers' embarrassing 7-0 defeat at the hands of the Washington Capitals.

Ironically, it was following that shellacking that things started to turn around for the Hamilton, Ontario native.

Less than 24 hours after four goals against and 29 minutes in penalties in just 23 minutes of crease duty against Washington, Emery recorded Philly's first shutout of the season with a 14-save blanking of New Jersey.

Then, in his most recent outing, the nine-year veteran surrendered just two goals (both on deflections) in a 3-0 loss to the Devils.

All told, Emery is 1-3 on the year with a 3.25 goals-against average and .879 save percentage.

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