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Flyers' Mason ready to start Game 4 if called upon

by Adam Kimelman

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Philadelphia Flyers coach Craig Berube wasn't ready Wednesday to name his starting goalie for Game 4 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the New York Rangers on Friday (7 p.m. ET; RDS, TSN, CNBC, MSG, CSN-PH).

But Steve Mason said he's ready if needed.

"If [Berube] says I'm in, I'll be ready," Mason said following an optional practice Wednesday.

Mason played the final 7:15 of the Flyers' 4-1 loss to the Rangers in Game 3, which put New York ahead 2-1 in the best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series. It was Mason's first game since April 12, when he sustained an upper-body injury against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He stopped all three shots he faced.

While having some game experience was good for him, Mason said he believes he's gotten more from his recent practice time, individually with goalie coach Jeff Reese and in full-team sessions.

That includes about an hour on the ice Wednesday with Reese and the Flyers' practice players.

"We did some goalie drills early on in the practice with [Reese] and [extra goaltender] Yann [Danis]," Mason said. "A couple of other guys came on the ice and we went through a normal practice and everything went fine.

"The things [Reese] and I have been working on have really helped. Little things throughout the season that he notices in the game that can simplify things we've been working on and I think that will translate right into the game. Playoff games have a different intensity, more is on the line, but I don't think I'll have too much trouble picking it up."

Berube said he believes he'll be ready to make a decision regarding his starter for Game 4 after he sees Mason in practice Thursday.

"I think the practice time he's had he's looked fine," Berube said. "He hasn't really been with us as a team so much, we haven't practiced much as a team and there's been three goalies out there. We'll see [Thursday]. He'll be with us on the ice [Thursday] and we'll go from there."

Ray Emery, who started the first three games, has allowed 10 goals on 89 shots, including four on 20 shots in Game 3. The players said they were confident no matter who was picked to start Game 4.

"I don't think it really matters who plays," forward Wayne Simmonds said. "We're going to play the same way regardless if Ray goes again or Mason steps in there."


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