The scenario wasn't ideal on Tuesday, but the Flyers got a little bit of good news during their 4-1 Game 3 loss to the Rangers.
In the final eight minutes, Steve Mason replaced the game's starter, Ray Emery. It was a sign that he was ready to return to the lineup, which he will be doing tonight.
The Flyers, trailing 2-1 in the series to New York, need some type of spark as they head into Game 4. Captain Claude Giroux guaranteed victory and the top netminder is returning.
If those two things don't spark the Flyers, they will find themselves heading back to New York down 3-1 in the series. They have just one win at Madison Square Garden in their last 10 games with the Rangers.
One of the things Giroux talked about after Game 3 was how much more effort the Flyers need to give against the Rangers. Coach Craig Berube wasn't going to disagree with that assessment.
In a chat with the media this morning after morning skate, Berube said he has been happy with the effort the last two games, just no the first.
“I think that we have to execute better," Berube said. "Obviously you go 0-5 on the power play (in Game 3), it comes down to execution. One goal scored in the third game.
"There were a lot of attempts at the net and not enough got in there. Not enough got through. Not enough screens.
"To me it just comes down to execution more than anything.”
The Rangers blocked 28 shots on Tuesday. It was the second largest total of blocked shots by a Flyers opponent this season. (The Toronto Maple Leafs blocked 30 on March 8.)
To get past that, Berube suggested moving the puck a lot more in the offensive zone. One of the Flyers' habits during the power play is to stand still, pass the puck and go for the one-timer.
"The shooters have got to do a better job of just getting it by people," Berube said. "You can't just one-time a puck off a pass against these guys all the time because they're very good at getting in the lanes and blocking it.
"Maybe it's a step here and there, and just the wrist shot up in the air a little bit and get it through to people at the net."
It has prevented forwards like Wayne Simmonds and Scott Hartnell from scoring the type of dirty goals they've scored all season. By taking them out of the equation, it has allowed the Rangers to block off access to the snipers in Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Vincent Lecavalier.
On the other end of the ice, Mason is going to give the Flyers something Emery couldn't in the first three games: a goaltender who can steal a game.
Emery played well in the first three games, but his weaknesses were exposed big time throughout each game. Emery's lateral movement hasn't been the same since beating a hip disease that nearly ended his career.
Mason is a quicker goalie, and stolen a handful of games for the Flyers this season. His quickness also shines in his ability to play the puck, an area the Flyers lacked when on the power play after a Rangers clearing attempt.
"[The Rangers are] a hard forechecking team; they come fast, good skating team," Berube said. "So if he can get pucks there and get them up quick, he's good at putting them on the glass and getting them around the walls."
The Flyers face the most important game of the series. A loss tonight and their uphill climb gets steeper.
A win, however, changes the complexion of the series, at least a little bit, as it heads back to New York for Game 5. One thing is certain, and it's they want to at least guarantee a Game 6 at home.
Five Facts for Tonight's Game
1. Rangers winger Martin St. Louis, who had just seven points in 19 games since the Rangers acquired him in the regular season, had two goals and three assists in the first three games. He's finally playing like the offensive accessory New York acquired him for.
2. The Flyers' leaders in points, however, are Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell. They have just two points apiece. No Flyers has scored more than one goal either. Their six total goals in three games are the second fewest total of all 16 playoff teams.
3. The Flyers have lost four consecutive Game 4s in the playoffs, following a streak where they won four consecutive Game 4s, dating back to the 2010 Playoffs. Overall, they're 33-35 in Game 4.
4. The Flyers are 2-for-9 on the power play this series, including an 0-for-5 effort on Tuesday. The Rangers are 3-for-16 in the series, due to the fact the Flyers have recorded 42 penalty minutes in three games. The Rangers have just 26.
5. Steve Mason is making his fifth career playoff start and sixth appearance. He has never won a playoff game. In his rookie season (2008-09), the seventh-seeded Blue Jackets were swept by the No. 2 Red Wings in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Mason is 0-4 with an .880 save percentage and 4.14 GAA in 247 playoff minutes.