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Fantasy Spin: Who has edge: Mason or Emery?

by Matt Sitkoff

The Philadelphia Flyers' goalie situation got another makeover this summer as Ilya Bryzgalov -- the starter during the past two seasons -- was given a compliance buyout and Ray Emery was brought in to compete with Steve Mason for the starting job.

But before breaking down the two goaltenders who will compete for crease time in Philadelphia this fall, let's break down the last six seasons of Flyers goalies.

Since the 2007-08 season, the Flyers have used 18 goalies and have had five different players lead them in victories -- including a tie in 2009-10 between Michael Leighton and Emery. The Flyers have averaged 40.6 victories in that span, which should have made their starting goalie a hot commodity in fantasy hockey.


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However, the Flyers' starting goalies have averaged only 25.8 victories. Putting that into context, the League-leading goalie has an average of 40.1 wins in those seasons.

Needless to say, the crease in Philadelphia has been an interesting place to roam, but the next two contestants should be up for the challenge.

Mason, acquired in a late-season trade from the Columbus Blue Jackets, was 4-2-0 with a 1.90 goals against average, and .944 save percentage in seven games with Philadelphia. The 25-year-old has never come close to his 2008-09 Calder Trophy-winning numbers of 33 wins and 10 shutouts for the Blue Jackets, but still represents the younger of the two players vying for the job this season.

Emery returns to the organization that gave him a chance to resume his NHL career in 2009-10 after spending a season in Russia. He's coming off a season that saw him win his first 12 starts -- an NHL record -- and help the Chicago Blackhawks win the Jennings Trophy, given to the team allowing the fewest goals. He was 17-1-0 with a 1.94 GAA for the Blackhawks, but watched as Corey Crawford played every minute during Chicago's drive to the Stanley Cup.

The 30-year-old signed a one-year deal for the fifth straight year and is coming off two successful seasons in Chicago. Last season, he started 40.4 percent of the time and accounted for 47.2 percent of the Blackhawks' wins. Two seasons ago, he started 32.9 percent of the team's starts -- playing in 37.3 percent of the games -- and accounted for 33.3 percent of the team's victories.

What does this mean for fantasy owners? If you target the Flyers' goalies, it should be as a tandem. Both of these goalies are prone to hot streaks; Mason has 12 winning streaks of three-plus games in the past five seasons and Emery having 10 such streaks during the same span -- including victories in his first eight starts last season.

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette should ride the hot hand, which could change on a weekly basis. The injury concern is the one factor that puts Mason ahead of Emery in fantasy standards. Emery has battled with hip and groin injuries in the past few seasons; he hasn't played more than 34 games in a season since 2006-07, when he played 58 times while leading the Ottawa Senators to the Stanley Cup Final.

Both of these goalies have a lot to prove -- neither is signed past this season. Therefore, this tandem can be a formidable fantasy option.


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