Steve Mason on Situation With Flyers: ‘My Job Is to Get This Team in the Playoffs'

VOORHEES, N.J. -- When Michal Neuvirth re-signed with the Flyers this week after the team openly courted him, it was rather awkward.
Steve Mason, who the club has not had a single discussion with regarding re-signing, was coming off a shutout win over Colorado and was the scheduled starter the day after the NHL trade deadline against Florida.
Alarm bells went off. Goalies are quirky and some are easily distracted by outside influences.

You had to wonder what kind of mental impact Neuvirth's signing would have on Mason, whose mental toughness has sometimes been called into question.
Would Mason melt down against the Panthers after the negotiations snub? Or would he channel his anger into making a statement in his next start?
Well, Mason answered with the latter during a 2-1 shootout win over the Panthers in which he had 39 saves (see feature highlight).
His glove snare on Aleksander Barkov in the final 19 seconds of regulation assured overtime and saved the Flyers from losing without earning a point.
That was the type crucial save Mason had not been providing, which is why he sat nine of 11 games in favor of Neuvirth during the month of February.
"He made that extra save for us," Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said Friday. "It's such a fine line, goaltending.
"[Thursday] he got five or six big saves at key times in the game. There's one or two early and late in the hockey game [against Barkov]. Those are key saves at big times. He's seeing the puck and battling hard … he's done that in the past."
Mason proved he could put aside hurt feelings, do his job and do it well.
"With them signing Neuvy, it obviously puts my future here in question," Mason said (more on that here). "But at the end of the day, it's out of my control.
"It's something I can't let affect me. Going out [Thursday] was just doing my job. I'm a Philadelphia Flyer here until the end of the season."
No anger at all going in?
"It didn't bother me at all," Mason said. "It was my understanding that they didn't want to have contract talks until the summer, so I never even planned on it. With them signing Neuvy, it's great for Neuvy, I'm happy for Neuvy.
"That's a contract he's happy to sign, great for him. I didn't really plan on negotiating until the summer. And this summer, I'll be a free agent. I'm not sure I'm in their plans here.
"For me, my job is to get this team in the playoffs and that's my sole focus right now. If I can finish strong here, summertime will take care of itself."
Mason will make his third straight start Saturday night in another "point" game against Washington (see story). Even if the Flyers lose outside of regulation, they need to earn at least one point. They are three points out of the wild card but that could change by late Friday night.
They have zero chance of catching the Caps, who lead the Metropolitan Division, yet every point they earn brings them closer to moving ahead of clubs directly in front of them for the wild card.
There was very noticeable relief in the Flyers' dressing room at Skate Zone on Friday after practice. Players were relaxed, happy and joking. That's been missing lately.
The players feel the acquisition of forward Valtteri Filppula showed that general manager Ron Hextall wasn't conceding the season (see story). Instead, he was willing to somewhat buy at the deadline. That raised spirits in the dressing room.
"It was a big sense of relief," Mason said, who wondered himself whether he was going to be traded. "The trade deadline is not fun for anybody involved. It's a stressful time for players, more importantly I think their families, as well.
"Happy it's over. We realize this is our group and we understand the task that is ahead of us in order to make the playoffs. We just have to keep moving, finding ways to win."
Loose pucks
• Although Hakstol would not commit one way or the other, it appears that forward Travis Konecny will return to the lineup against Washington after missing nine games with an ankle and knee sprain. Hakstol did say he would limit Konecny's minutes if he played -- Konecny practiced with the fourth line.

• Dale Weise had a spectacular spill on the ice during a breakaway drill, tripping over the puck. That was partially duplicated by Shayne Gostisbehere trying to wrestle with a pass from Claude Giroux.

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