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Flyers' Mason not ready; Emery to start Game 3

by Adam Kimelman

VOORHEES, NJ -- Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Steve Mason ruled himself out of Game 3 of the team's Eastern Conference First Round Stanley Cup Playoff series against the New York Rangers on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; CNBC, TSN2, MSG, CSN-PH).

Ray Emery, who made 31 saves in a Game 2 win Sunday and has a .913 save percentage for the series, will start, with rookie Calvin Heeter as his backup.

Mason, who is listed by the team as day-to-day with an upper-body injury, skated for about 45 minutes Monday, on his own and as part of the team's optional practice. He said he felt better but not well enough to dress for Game 3.

"You know how you feel when you're done practice," he said. "I feel good with the goaltending part of the practice, but there's other things that are affecting the decision."

Mason said he's set his focus on being healthy enough to play in Game 4 on Friday.

"We're getting better," Mason said. "It's tough to put a percentage on, but we're getting closer and closer to 100 percent every day. I look forward to seeing how I feel [Tuesday] and getting ready hopefully for Friday."

Mason said he plans on skating Tuesday and continuing to progress in his recovery.

"When Steve's ready, Steve's ready," coach Craig Berube said. "He's getting close. I don't know how close he is. It's a day-to-day thing like it has been. He felt better [Monday]."

Mason hasn't played since the end of the second period of a game April 12 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, when Penguins forward Jayson Megna pushed Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald into Mason.

"It [stinks] watching," Mason said. "At the same time it's nice to see the team come away with the win [Sunday] and come back with home-ice advantage."

Mason said Emery's strong play has allowed him to progress through his recovery at his own pace.

"Right now, the way [Emery] is playing there's no hurry," Mason said. "He's the reason we won [Sunday]. Even if I was ready, there's no reason to take him out now."

Game 3 will mark Emery's third straight start; he played in consecutive games six times all season, but never had back-to-back starts.

"If your starter goes down it's a tough position to be in," Emery said. "I just want to come in and play the best I can. Be kind of a band-aid there while [Mason] gets better."

Emery said the increased ice time has him feeling better, especially at this time of year.

He won the Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks last season, but spent the entire postseason on the bench as Corey Crawford's backup. The last time he was a starter in a playoff series was with the Anaheim Ducks in the first round of the 2011 playoffs. At 31 he said he's taking the time to appreciate where he is.

"It's the best time of the year," Emery said. "It's been a while since I played a series. I appreciate being in there."

Emery allowed four goals on 32 shots in a 4-1 loss in Game 1 and let in two goals on the first four shots he faced in Game 2. He blanked the Rangers after that, helped in part by the Flyers doing a better job defensively against cross-zone passes that forced Emery to go side-to-side.

Coach Craig Berube said Sunday his team did a better job taking away the cross-ice passes in the final two periods.

"On the first two goals they made the seam passes, we were outnumbered," he said. "They're a good attack team. Their defense is very active up in the rush and it opens things up, gets you spread out. Our guys did a better job with sticks and time and space. We didn't back in so much, I thought our gaps were better. That's real important against this team, having good gaps and not giving them a whole lot of time with the puck."

Emery said defending the Rangers' offensive-zone tactics was something he discussed with goalie coach Jeff Reese.

"We talked about it," Emery said. "I'm always mindful of how the other team plays. That's not to say that if the guy has the puck normally I'm focused on that guy and you want to be aware of what else is around kind of secondary. I still kind of approach things the same way."


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