During the offseason, Steve Mason mentioned how one of the areas he focused on was the mental side of being a goaltender, specifically when it comes to a shootout.
In what used to be an area Mason (and the Flyers, as a group) struggled in, the 28-year-old netminder has somewhat done a 180-degree flip.
He stood on his head once again as the Flyers knocked off Washington via shootout on Wednesday. Aside from one that got by him off of the stick of T.J. Oshie (a man known for taking down an entire country by way of shootout), Mason was brilliant.
“He is a confident goaltender in all areas of the game,” said head coach Dave Hakstol afterwards. “I see a confident goaltender when it comes to the shootout as well, even tonight. It was a tough situation, he has to make a save, we are down one and he stayed patient and did a great job. He gave us a chance to get ourselves back into the shootout. I give the guys credit; they did that for [Mason] as well.”
The Flyers are tied for the league lead with four shootout wins -- which also ties the franchise record for most in a single season. Mason was in net for three of those.
To no surprise, Mason has seen the most shootout opportunities of any goalie in the NHL entering Wednesday’s schedule of games. He has allowed just five pucks to get by him on 25 shots. Among the 10 goalies that have seen 13 or more shots, Mason (80.0%) is second behind Boston’s Tuukka Rask (84.2%) for the best save percentage.
That’s a far cry from what Mason’s previous numbers used to look like.
Last season, Mason actually saw one less chance than he has this season. In those 24 chances, he allowed 10 of them to get by for a 58.3 percent rate. That number was the third-lowest among goalies that saw 20-plus shots.
Before that, Mason stopped just 59.5% of his shots in the 2014-15 season. There were 13 goalies that saw 30 or more shots -- Mason had the second lowest save percentage among them.
In other words, Mason appears to have solved those shootout demons that once haunted him in past years. If he can continue to gain confidence in the 1-on-1 skills competition, that’ll bode well for a team that already has eight wins past regulation and seemingly plays an overtime game twice a week.