Each week, we'll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.
Going End to End this week are CSNPhilly.com producer/reporter Sarah Baicker, CSNPhilly.com producer/reporter Tom Dougherty and CSNPhilly.com producer/reporter Tim Riday.
The question: How will the Olympic break affect Steve Mason's play?
There's a reason we often talk about goaltenders "getting into a groove." When you're a goalie and you're playing well, the last thing you want to do is stop playing -- especially for three weeks. Mason had been playing some of his best hockey of the season leading up to the Olympic break, and I'm not positive he'll pick up exactly where he left off. The good news, however, is that he's proven to us this season that he's able to get back on the horse each time he fell off it. I'm not worried.
A three-week layoff for a goalie riding a hot streak, which included two shutouts in his last five games before the break, isn’t ideal. But for Mason, who had been battling cramps in his leg, the break should do wonders. He’ll come back fresh with a ton of confidence. Just as long as he doesn’t golf during the break (Claude Giroux, too), the Flyers should be fine with their goaltending the rest of the way.
The Olympic break came at an unfortunate time for Mason. He was riding quite the hot streak -- 4-1-0 with just seven goals allowed in his last five starts -- after a sluggish month of January. The time off allows Mason to recharge his batteries and I expect him to pick up where he left off when the Flyers return to action. Mason is a very motivated person. You can bet he's been working just as hard during the break as he does during the regular season. I'm more concerned with how the Flyers' defense will perform in front of Mason when the NHL resumes play. Remember, three of the Flyers' blueliners are in Sochi and not vacationing like most of their teammates. But that's an entirely different question for another time.