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Michal Neuvirth will start home opener vs. Panthers; Mason out with 'family matter'

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Steve Mason will miss tonight's home opener due to a personal family matter, and Michal Neuvirth will replace him.

Steve Mason wasn't on the ice during the morning skate at Wells Fargo Center today, and it's because he'll be out of tonight's lineup due to what the team is calling "a personal family matter."

Michal Neuvirth will start in goal, then -- his first start as a Philadelphia Flyer. No word on who will be the backup tonight. A Wells Fargo Center employee is serving as backup in the morning skate, and we'll assume that Jason LaBarbera will be called up from the Phantoms before the game.

After a solid season opening performance against the Tampa Bay Lightning last Thursday, Steve Mason turned in the worst start of his Flyers career on Saturday night, allowing four goals in under seven minutes of play.

Today, his terrible game seems a bit more understandable.

Obviously, we wish Mason the best in dealing with a family concern. It also seems fair to speculate that his uncharacteristically poor performance on Saturday night could have been at least partially caused by these personal issues.

At this point, the length of Mason's absence is unknown, and Neuvirth will likely take the full time starter's role for now. Neuvirth, who was signed in the offseason to a two-year, $3.25 million contract, has experience as a starter from his time with the Washington Capitals. He was added by Ron Hextall primarily due to Mason's injury issues last season, as the team wanted to acquire a high-end backup as an upgrade over Ray Emery.

Neuvirth will get his chance quicker than anyone had anticipated. Hopefully, Mason will be able to return to the ice soon.