The Philadelphia Flyers went out and improved their goaltending by signing backup Michal Neuvrith to a two-year deal.
Neuvrith played in 32 games last season for the Buffalo Sabres and the New York Islanders. He was 7-20-4 with a 2.98 goals against average and a .914 save percentage. He didn’t record a shutout and gave up 92 goals. The numbers may not look great for the goalie, but he did play a majority of his games with the Sabres, who really struggled last season. He was traded to the Islanders in midseason, but didn’t get much playing time while there.
He is a butterfly goalie with fast reflexes who seems to be calm and patient while in net. Neuvirth has some agility and can recoup fast from making a save. He could stand to be a little more consistent in his game, and that could be part of the reason he’s never reached the level of being a starter. Neuvrith can also let in some soft goals. In the Flyers first preseason game, the goalie let one squeeze through his arm for a goal, though that could be a result of rust. He has also had the misfortunate to play on some teams that aren’t the strongest in their own zone.
He has playoff experience and the capability to come in cold off the bench. Neuvirth has a quick glove, but he has been known to give up some big rebounds. He can’t handle the puck or move the puck as well as Steve Mason, however, Neuvirth is an upgrade over Ray Emery and Rob Zepp from last season, and he is only 27 years old.
The biggest concern for the Flyers has to be if Steve Mason can stay healthy for the season. Mason missed some time last season due to a knee injury. In his first preseason action, Mason looked good. The question remains though: does the knee hold up throughout the season or does it force him to miss some time again?
The goalie has been good since coming over in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Mason has played in 119 games, has a record of 55-38-18 to go along with a 2.65 goals against average and a .923 save percentage. Mason also has seven shutouts with the Flyers. In the 2014-15 season, he was 18-18-11 with a 2.25 goals against average, .928 save percentage and had three shutouts.
The record doesn’t look great, but the Flyers defense was terrible last season. Mason only allowed three or more goals 18 times last season. He kept the Flyers in most games by making great save after great save. During one game, he held the Islanders scoreless throughout regulation and overtime, where he made 46 saves, only to lose the game in the shootout.
Mason has been up and down throughout his career. He won the Calder Trophy, which is awarded to the best rookie in the NHL, during his first season with the Blue Jackets. He eventually lost his starting job after struggling the next three seasons in Columbus. He can handle the puck, which is a big help to his defensemen and on the power play where he can make the breakout pass. He has good size but is also quick.
He has big-game makeup and seems to always be square to the shooter, with decent vision and and the ability to track the puck through traffic. There are times during the game when he may have a lapse in focus. He needs to be more consistent for a full 60 minutes and game-to-game too. If he lets up a bad goal then he needs to be able to forget about it and not lose focus.
If the Flyers plan to get back to the postseason, then the goalies will need to be great again this season since the defense is still mediocre.