Steve Mason never hid his disdain for the shootout. The Flyers goalie often gets irritated watching his team put in a stellar 65 minutes of play only to win or lose – let’s face it, mostly lose – during a glorified skills competition.
Well, Mason hasn’t exactly given the new 3-on-3 overtime format implemented this season his blessing, either.
After allowing a breakaway goal in Tuesday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Sabres, the netminder wavered back and forth when asked if he prefers OT over the shootout.
“I don’t know,” Mason said after turning aside 36 shots. “[The new overtime] is not very goalie friendly.”
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With so much open ice, both teams are able to create multiple scoring opportunities and the action is literally end-to-end. For a prime example, take Tuesday’s game.
The Flyers had a two-on-one with Sam Gagner and Scott Laughton skating over the blue line. Gagner, who carried the puck into the zone, made a dazzling move but his backhand was stopped by Sabres goalie Chad Johnson, who then followed it up with brilliant pad stop on Laughton’s rebound.
The Sabres countered with a rush and Zemgus Girgenson beat Mason for the game-winner.
“It’s chaos out there,” Mason said. “[Johnson] made a great save and then a couple seconds later they are back on a breakaway. … It’s tough out there. It’s chance after chance and it’s grade A chances. It’s why so many games are ended in overtime. There’s just so many quality chances that eventually a guy is going to score.”
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Teammate Jake Voracek understands Mason’s frustration.
“I don’t think any goalie is [a fan of overtime] to be honest,” Jake Voracek said. “It’s a lot of scoring chances on both sides.”
The goal of the new 3-on-3 overtime is to cut down on games being decided by a shootout. Through the first month of the season, it’s been working league-wide, including for the Flyers.
They have had four of their first eight games head past regulation but only one has gone to a shootout, which the Flyers actually won over the Rangers on Saturday night. They are 1-2 in overtime but Mason has been saddled with both losses – and both ended on breakaways.
“The goaltender is put in a tough spot because he has all kinds of situations coming at him that normally you don’t see on a consistent basis,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. “But in saying that everyone has a role to play and we all have to do that a little bit better.”
While his starting goalie is not a fan of the new overtime, Hakstol favors it over the alternative.
“It’s entertaining there no question,” he said. “I still believe it’s a better way to decide a game than the shootout.”