Looking to rebound after a lethargic collapse against the Blue Jackets on Tuesday night, the Flyers collected themselves on Thursday and delivered an inspired win over the Colorado Avalanche, 4-2. It was Philadelphia’s first win in Denver since the 2002 campaign according to the broadcast and yet again, was a game that they needed to have. The Avalanche needed this one just as badly as they are in a very similar position to the Flyers in the Western Conference, but Philadelphia managed to weather an early push and finish the game strong.
The Flyers received goals from Pierre Eduard Bellemare (6th), Radko Gudas (5th), Claude Giroux (21st) and Ryan White (11th) in the win. Again and again this season, the Flyers have shown just how resilient they can be; twice Philly trailed in this game only to battle back from both one goal deficits. From a territorial vantage point, the Av’s were the better team through one period of play and about 5 minutes through the second period before the Flyers took over. With the Detroit Red Wings win over the Montreal Canadiens last night, the Flyers had to come away with 2 points of their own in order to remain in the final wildcard spot in the East and they did just that. It was a gutsy performance from Philly against a team that is making a similar type push towards the playoffs.
Speaking of gutsy, goaltender Steve Mason was a rock in between the pipes once again as he turned away 32 of 34 shots in the win. According to the Post Game Live crew, over the last three games Mason has stopped a gaudy 106 shots, which includes his 51 save performance against the Blue Jackets which resulted in a shootout loss. It’s safe to say that the Flyers #1 goaltender is in the zone right now and there is little reason not to continue riding him. He’s been stellar.
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With concerns over his durability, much has been made of the Flyers leaning on Mason a little too much down the stretch and when, if at all, will rookie backup Anthony Stolarz get into game action. It’s a justified concern, but with Mason going so well right now, there’s no reason to plug Stolarz in yet.
My take on the rookie goaltender is this; there are too many games left to not have Stolarz come in for at least two starts, but the Flyers should be very selective in who they decide to play him against. Philadelphia still has matchups against teams that are out of the playoff hunt so that may be a good time to play the rookie then.
Stolarz, 22, has had an excellent year in the AHL with the Phantoms this season and he certain deserves to get a look at some point, but with the fickle nature of goaltenders, especially when they debut, an Anthony Stolarz start could result in a potential slip up the Flyers can ill-afford so we may see the rookie goaltender sometime during April, when Philadelphia has a better idea on whether or not they’ll make the playoffs.