BUFFALO — Evidently there was only so much sand left in Michal Neuvirth’s hourglass before his chance to be a starting goalie ran out.

At least in Philadelphia.

It’s not a talent thing for Neuvirth, the oft-injured, uber-gifted goalie who could still have a lot of hockey left in him at age 28. It appears to just be bad timing. He happened to recover while the Flyers are attempting to make a push toward the playoffs.

“It’s not like we’re in October, November here,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “He’s jumping right back in in January and for any position that’s not an easy task.

“We know what Neuvy brings to the table. He’s played one good game coming off a lengthy absence with an injury. I think there’s still a few steps there for Neuvy to get back to mid-season form.”

The net belongs to Steve Mason for the lion’s share of the starts the rest of the way. Knowing that may give Mason the confidence he needs to be at his best. So far the Flyers haven’t seen a lot of that this season with pedestrian 2.79 goals-against average and .903 save percentage numbers.

Both Mason and Neuvirth are in contract years and with a vote of confidence from Hakstol Tuesday it seems like Mason has the upper hand on getting an extension, but GM Ron Hextall doesn’t want to address that until after the season.

Mason seemed to feel a little more comfortable with knowing where he stands in the organization when Neuvirth got hurt in November and Anthony Stolarz got only four starts before being sent back to the American Hockey League.


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