I didn't really think this would happen, to be honest. But here it is: Michal Neuvirth will apparently be the Flyers starting goaltender in tonight's do-or-die Game 4 against the Washington Capitals.
In a not-so-surprising move, appears Michal Neuvirth will be between the pipes for Game 4— Kyle (@Kyle_Phillippi) April 20, 2016
It's not necessarily all that shocking. Steve Mason has not played particularly well in these last two games for the Flyers, and while he's certainly not the chief problem on the team in this series, he hasn't been a difference maker either. There's been some speculation that he's been injured, perhaps suffering a setback in Game 2 down in D.C. There's no confirmation of that, although it'd be a fair explanation for some of the weak goals he's given up in the series.
Neuvirth has had a solid season, but the key concern with him is that he's barely played in weeks. He missed the final few weeks of the season with an injury before returning in time for the final regular season game last Sunday against the New York Islanders. It was a win, but it was also a meaningless game that had the feeling of a preseason contest.
This shouldn't define Mason's season. Maybe he's hurt, maybe he's not. There is no doubt that he hasn't looked himself in the last few games, and given that it's hard to argue with the call to change goalies for this big Game 4. But at the same time, let's hope that the narrative will keep in focus the fact that his strong season-long play is one of the key reasons the Flyers are even playing here in the postseason.
Neuvirth, of course, played for the opposing Capitals from 2009 to 2014. He was traded to Buffalo by the team after the emergence of current Caps' starter Braden Holtby made him expendable, and he's bounced around the league since before landing in Philly and having a successful season as the backup goalie behind Mason this year.