PHILADELPHIA — It started off in November.

Flyers center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare would show up early because goalie Michal Neuvirth asked him to help him out.

Now Bellemare has become the designated goalie warmup guy with Steve Mason, too. In the midst of a playoff run where Mason is the everyday starter and Neuvirth is hurt, Bellemare knows he still better show up early.

Every morning skate starts the same way: Mason and goalie coach Kim Dillabaugh come onto the ice first while Mason stretches. Then Bellemare arrives with a pile of pucks and stands in the slot.

First he shoots 10 pucks on Mason’s glove side. Then his stick side. Right leg. Left leg.

“To be honest, it’s tough to see when he’s not on,” Bellemare said. “When you’re doing the warmup, most often he’s way sharper than I am. The pucks that are maybe not going in the right spot, he gets them anyway.”

Recently, Mason has been on. Entering Wednesday night’s game against the Washington Capitals, Mason had 7-2-2 record in 11 games in March with a 1.97 goals-against average and .929 save percentage.

“It’s nice to be having some success as a team right now,” said Mason, who played his 400th career game Wednesday. “It’s always easier for a goaltender when you’re playing consistently. I just come to the rink expecting to play right now and it’s a good position to be in.”

That feeling will continue through the rest of the regular season. General manager Ron Hextall says, “it would be a stretch” to think Neuvirth can return before next Sunday’s season finale. He hasn’t even stepped onto the ice yet as he’s still recovering from a left knee injury. Mason may start all six remaining games this season as he did Wednesday.