I still feel uncomfortable calling Steve Mason the Flyers best player, mostly because Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek are on this team. But seriously -- he's either been their best player or their MVP this season. One or the other. Or both.
And Craig Berube will not stop treating him like total garbage.
The latest example was the head coach pulling Mason after two goals against on Thursday night in Calgary, and it was an utterly terrible decision in just about every possible way. The Flyers do not and have not lost games this season on the back of Steve Mason, yet here's Berube throwing him under the bus time after time.
Berube didn't like both goals on Mason, even thou Mason didn't even see the 2d. "There's going to be screens, u've got to fight thru them."— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) March 20, 2015
Steve Mason is fired up. He was screened on the second goal, didn't see it.— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) March 20, 2015
Mason has every right to be pissed off. Every right in the world. "You've got to fight through them." What the hell does that even mean, Craig? You want Mason to grow X-ray vision so he can see through Nick Schultz's ass?
I mean, let's look at the goal in question here -- the one that made it 2-0 Calgary late in the third.
I've been patient through a lot Berube's crap this season. His ineffective adjustments, his extremely questionable deployment, his routine scratches of quality players and his insistence on giving ice time to the worst players on the Flyers roster.
This isn't a good team, and there's a lot of blame to go around. It doesn't all fall on the coach -- not by a long shot.
But when you treat one of just a handful of quality assets you have on this team with the lack of respect that Berube showed to Mason on Thursday, it's just about enough to push one over the edge. Everybody is confused about it.
Several Flyers puzzled by Mason being pulled. "He's kept us in probably 95 percent of the games," Luke Schenn said.— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) March 20, 2015
Mason bites his tongue night after night when he receives little to no goal support in front of him. He's been a bright spot on a really ugly season, and he's the reason the Flyers even had a chance to sniff the postseason as recently as two weeks ago. He's been their most valuable player, without question.
If you're in a playoff race and you think pulling your goaltender will give your team a boost and a chance to get the two points, fine. That's at least justifiable. But this game meant absolutely nothing to the Flyers, and the goalie change didn't do a damn thing anyway.
All pulling him did was piss Mason off more than he already is pissed off. The way this relationship has gone the last few weeks, especially since goalie coach and Mason's mentor Jeff Reese was fired, it's starting to feel like the guy might not want to be here any more. Wouldn't blame him, honestly. But the Flyers can't afford that -- not when they've finally found a damn goalie who can perform consistently like Mason has since the trade that brought him here.
The bottom line: Berube alienated his MVP, has done so multiple times this year, it's hard to figure out why.
To win the game? Not worth it.
Because he knows Mason will be a Flyer longer than he will be? Well, now we're talking.