Steve Mason: Great expectations for Flyers


Some say Steve Mason has what it takes to become a choice player in the ranks of Henrik Lundqvist or Carey Price. He had a good start in the 2015-16 season opener against Tampa Bay with 29 saves on 32 shots.

With the devastating loss in overtime, all hopes were to win the second game against the Florida Panthers. Those hopes shattered when the Flyers goalie allowed four goals in the first 6:46 of the game before being pulled, giving way to Michal Neuvirth to finish the game.

So which Steve Mason are we going to see this season? Will it be the elite goaltender that some feel he is destined to become, or the one that becomes frazzled quickly under pressure?

"I think Mase [has] become a pro," head coach Dave Hakstol said. "He’s obviously in better shape than he was in his early career and I think the maintenance part for him, he knows his body. He has come a long way. You leave the game and you ask people how you want to be remembered and most guys say I want to be remembered as a good teammate and a pro and I think Mase is getting to the point where he’s a good pro."

Mason had an unfortunate 2014-15 season, landing on the injury list several times. In December, an upper-body injury resulted in several missed starts. In January, an undisclosed injury resulted in a knee injury.

Then again in February, a lower-body injury led to more missed starts. These constant nagging injuries may have led him to work out with a goalie specific trainer over the summer, to help maintain his health. With all of this, Mason still led the league in 5-on-5 goals against average. His record in 51 games was 18-18-11, 2.25 GAA, and .928 SV%.

In 2013-14, his first full season with the Flyers, he matched his career high with 33 wins, which he established in 2008-09 when he won the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league's top rookie. He also won the Gene Hart Memorial Award. This is given to the Flyer who played with the most "heart" as voted by the Philadelphia Fan Club.

Steve Mason returned for this season, ready to play hard. A few poor starts will not keep him from excelling.

When asked about Mason’s improvement, Hakstol commented, "I think there’s always things, even as you get older that and smarter, that you react better, you maintain your body better, there’s lots of little ways to get better. You read the game better so, yeah, I think he can get better and I think you play with a better team as a goalie and obviously you look better, with the more goals that the team scores and less tighter games you’re in, it all helps."

Steve Mason has talent. He works hard and plays with heart. Consistency and endurance will lead him to elite status.

Denise Mroz is a contributing writer for Flyerdelphia. Follow her on Twitter @denisemroz10.

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