If there was a game to define what Steve Mason has been doing for the Flyers this season, Saturday night in the Music City was the night.
Mason stopped 34 shots, including two great saves in the shootout as the Flyers came back to beat the Nashville Predators, 3-2. The win started the Flyers' six-game road trip out on the right foot.
It was Mason's best effort of the season.
Mason's effort was coupled with Sean Couturier's late game-tying goal that forced overtime. His tally with 6 minutes, 54 seconds remaining gave Mason the chance to steal a second point from the Predators.
(Photo: Steve Mason covers the puck as Gabriel Bourque contends with Luke Schenn. Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Flyers penalty kill unit was on its best all season it seemed.
Despite bad penalties surrendering six power opportunities for the Winnipeg Jets, the penalty kill unit came through big all six times. The unit even tallied a goal as the defensive effort led the Flyers a 2-1 win over Winnipeg.
"(The Jets) power play shoots a lot of pucks," Sean Couturier, who had a short-handed goal, said. "They've got good shots back there and we just wanted to keep pressure on and not give them time to set up their shots. We did a good job putting on that pressure to not let them set up."
The win also snapped a short two-game skid that followed a seven-game point streak. The win couldn't have come at a better time as the Flyers embark on a six-game road trip that starts in Nashville on Saturday.
(Photo: Winnipeg's Michael Frolik battles with Matt Read for a loose puck. Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)
A seven-game point streak offers plenty for a hockey team.
It provides hope for the fans, confidence for the players and in Craig Berube’s case, a pat on the back.
The stretch also makes things shinier than they were before. Bright lipstick is applied. When removed like it was in the Philadelphia Flyers’ 3-1 loss at Florida on Monday, it’s clear to see the pig that still remains.
(Photo: Tim Thomas made 38 saves for the Panthers in their 3-1 win over the Flyers. Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
When things are going right offensively for the Flyers, their depth in the front nine really shows.
Matt Read, Sean Couturier and Steve Downie - The Checking Line - provided some much needed fire power at the end of the second period to give the Flyers a boost en route to a 4-1 win over the Sabres on Thursday.
Read scored two goals in the span of 1 minute, 40 seconds, and Steve Downie and Sean Couturier had the primary and secondary assists respectively on both goals. The goals came in the final six minutes of the second, erasing a 1-0 Buffalo lead.
(Photo: Matt Read [middle celebrates with [left to right] Steve Downie, Sean Couturier, Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen after Read's second goal late in the second period. Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Behind another strong performance by Steve Mason and an offensive outburst, the Flyers were able to extend their point streak to five games and have now collected 12 of 16 possible points in their last eight games.
In fact, since the disastrous 7-0 loss at the hands of the Washington Capitals on Nov. 1, the Flyers have gone 5-1-2 and now sit just two points back from what would have them in playoff positioning.
(Photo: The Flyers celebrate Kimmo Timonen's first goal of the season, which proved to be the game-winner in the third period. Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Patience is something that is not in the Philadelphia Flyers vocabulary.
Flyers Chairman Ed Snider has not been the model of patience for the Flyers. For years now the team has been in “win now” mode at the expense of future development.
But two years ago, the team shuffled their roster and radically changed their direction, acquiring younger players, prospects and picks. With young players comes growing pains and unfortunately for the Flyers, these players such as Sean Couturier and Wayne Simmonds, are struggling.
With the team’s struggles early in this season, there have been calls for a roster shakeup.
The Philadelphia Flyers may have one of the deepest center combinations in the entire National Hockey League.
Captain Claude Giroux had a “subpar” lockout shortened year, but still registered 48 points in just as many games. Giroux is just a year removed from a career-high of 28 goals, 93 points and it would not be out of the realm of possibility that he eclipses both this season.
With more players able to play the penalty kill, it seems likely that Giroux will get less time on the PK, opening him up to doing what he does best: playmaking.
(Photo: Flyers captain Claude Giroux will man the top line again this season. Photo by John Russo/The Checking Line)
Sean Couturier has always been a prized possession in the eyes of general manager Paul Holmgren, surviving numerous trade talks.
Couturier will now be in a Flyers uniform a bit longer. The Flyers have extended the contract of the 20-year-old center for the next two years following the 2013-14 season.
Couturier's extension is worth $3.5 million over two seasons. Couturier is expected to go into camp this season, his third in the NHL, as the Flyers third center behind recently extended captain Claude Giroux and the newly signed Vincent Lecavalier.