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Practice Update: Mason makes a return

Flyers goaltender OK after early departure vs. Devils

by Brian Smith | @NHLFlyers

After a day of rest, Steve Mason was back out on the ice with his teammates on Saturday morning at Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees. The issue at hand that forced him from Thursday's game at New Jersey was not a tear or a pull, as it was initially feared by those watching, but rather the opposite - it was muscle cramping.

It's actually nothing new to Mason, but rather something he's been prone to much of his career. 

He sweats so much during a game that he faces a constant battle to stay hydrated. When Mason removes his gear after a game, it sometimes looks like he's been sprayed with a hose. In fact, when the Flyers completed their practice at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh last month in 74-degree temperatures, some of Mason's teammates joked to the goaltender that they felt like he feels every day following a practice.

"The amount that I sweat and the salt level, we try and keep up on it, but sometimes it's hard," Mason said. "I drink just about everything. Bunch of different salt drinks, Pedialytes, lots of things with electrolytes. The amount that I drink during a game, it's ridiculous. But the amount that I sweat just counteracts it."Video: Mason on team consistency and preparation

The caution that Mason and trainer Jim McCrossin used in getting the goaltender off the ice on Thursday was to avoid any actual damage to the muscles that had cramped up. At some point Mason had recovered and probably could have returned in an emergency, but he and the medical staff saw no pressing reason for him to come back in otherwise.

"I think at that point, you don't want to risk it," Mason said. "I ended up getting an IV right after the game, which helps getting it back into the system."

If there was ever a tale of two games, the last two probably are it - a game vs. Pittsburgh on Wednesday that the players called one of the team's best efforts of the season, followed 23 ½ hours later by one they called one of their worst.  

It could be said there were extenuating circumstances. The Penguins were likely exhausted after nine days of Western Conference travel punctuated by an unexpected return home due to the winter storm and then a gameday flight to Philadelphia. Meanwhile, the Devils were more than fresh after having their Tuesday night game postponed by the storm, while the Flyers were playing their third game in four nights.

However, the Flyers have no interest in using that as an excuse. The only thing they would like to do is figure out how to play better under those circumstances.

"I think everybody just has to do a better job of mentally engaging into a game and preparing for every single game to the best of your capabilities," Mason said. "Sometimes when you're tired, that's' when you have to have your mental game over your physical game."

Jake Voracek acknowledged that every team is going to have letdowns over the course of an 82-game season, but says they have to be limited.Video: Jakub Voracek on team consistency, future preparation

"You've got to make sure as a person and a player those lapses aren't very often," Voracek said. "It can happen maybe 10 games out of the season - not 20 or 25. That's the difference between winning or losing."

But these Flyers have been an up and down team all year, which they know isn't the most effective way to accomplish their goals.

"The consistency is something that we obviously need to address," Mason said. "We can't go from having one of our best games all year against Pittsburgh and then come around the net night against Jersey with that kind of an overall team game. It's just something that we continually seem to be talking about. That's what makes good teams. That's what separates them, is the consistency on any given night. We're aware that it wasn't good enough, and we have to come back tomorrow night and have a much better game."

The Flyers return to the ice in a rare Sunday night contest when they take on the Carolina Hurricanes at the Wells Fargo Center. Puck drop is 7:30 on CSN and 97.5 The Fanatic

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