Photo: Rob Carr
Steve Mason knew the questions were coming. He did not hide from them. For him, the only way out of one of the most embarrassing moments of his life was through it.
“I messed up,” Mason told reporters after a 4-1 loss in Game Two of the first round against the Washington Capitals.
Less than two and a half minutes into the second period, Mason allowed a rolling ground ball to pass through his legs. Mason had made an impressive save a minute earlier, possibly tweaking a muscle, but he denied that played any part in what happened next: a puck deflected by Jason Chimera at the redline that slid into the back of the net with Mason frozen in place.
“It’s my fault and I realize that,” Mason said.
Capitals star goaltender Braden Holtby, who stopped 41 of 42 shots in his team’s victory, took no pleasure seeing a colleague make such an elementary mistake.
“I couldn’t even watch the replay of it,” Holtby said. “As a fellow goalie, you never want to see that happen.”
Now Mason’s job may be on the line. Mason’s save percentage this postseason is a dreadful .889 compared to Holtby’s magical .984. Michal Neuvirth, the Capitals’ former starting goalie, may now start Game Three in Philadelphia on Monday. In the regular-season, Neuvirth was arguably the better of the two, posting a .924 save percentage and a 2.27 goals against average over an injury-marred 32 games. Mason had a save percentage of .918 and a GAA of 2.51 over 54 games. After Saturday’s game, Flyers coach Dave Hakstol was noncommittal on his goaltender for Monday night’s game, though he went out of his way to praise Mason.
“I haven’t thought a whole lot about that,” Hakstol said. “What, are we 20 minutes from the end of the hockey game, fellas? Mase has been outstanding for us.”
“We do what’s best for our hockey team,” the coach added.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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