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Goaltender Mason to start Game 4 for Flyers

by Adam Kimelman

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Goalie Steve Mason will start for the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the New York Rangers on Friday at Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m. ET; RDS, TSN, CNBC, MSG, CSN-PH).

The Rangers lead the best-of-7 series 2-1.

Mason was on the ice for the entire practice session Thursday and said he feels ready to go.

"Second day in a row, third day really, where there were no issues on the ice," he said. "Was a good feeling."

It will be Mason's first start since April 12 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, when he sustained an upper-body injury late in the second period.

"You don't want to be sitting on the sidelines come playoff time," Mason said. "If you can be something that helps a team win a hockey game, then that's a good feeling. But I think everybody realizes there's a lot of hockey to be played and we're not worried too much."

Mason played the final 7:15 of the Flyers' 4-1 loss in Game 3, stopping all three shots he faced in relief of starter Ray Emery. Emery allowed 10 goals on 89 shots in the first three games, including four goals on 20 shots in Game 3.

Though it was nice for Mason to dip his toe into some playoff action, he said it's been his play in practice that has been most telling for him in his recovery.

"For a goaltender I think it's a matter of if you're tracking the puck well off the stick and into your body," he said. "Toward the end of practice [Thursday] I felt really sharp, especially on the power-play stuff there. I was moving well, seeing the puck through screens. If that's the gauge for myself, I feel pretty good."

In addition to his work on the ice, Mason said he's spent a great deal of time watching video of how the Rangers have attacked the Flyers offensively. Though he will be a bit rusty due to the time off, he said he feels he'll be prepared for whatever New York throws at him in Game 4.

"I do a lot of video with [goalie coach Jeff Reese], goalie-specific stuff," Mason said. "How the Rangers are presenting themselves throughout the whole series. Every goaltender plays it a different way. They were attacking [Emery] in certain ways that Reese thinks they might do differently toward myself. With all that video you try to be as prepared as possible. Everything happens so quickly at game time you have to be ready for anything. If you're prepared through the video, you're going to give yourself the best opportunity to succeed."

Coach Craig Berube said it was good to see his starting goaltender ready to go again.

"He's a talented goalie. We all knew that," Berube said. "He's gotten better and better throughout the year. He's just a battler. He's come up big all year for us."


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