NEW YORK -- As much as goaltending has been heralded as an X factor for the Philadelphia Flyers in their first-round series against the New York Rangers, injury replacement Ray Emery has more than just held his own between the pipes.
Making consecutive starts for the first time this season with regular starter Steve Mason on the shelf with an upper-body injury, Emery has given the Flyers what they need: a chance to win.
Could Flyers coach Craig Berube have a tough decision on his hands once Mason is healthy and ready to play?
"I'm not really thinking that far ahead," Berube said following Sunday’s 4-2 win against the Rangers.
Thursday Emery was strong in the first 48 minutes of play before an ill-advised double-minor penalty put the Flyers down a man for four minutes. On Sunday, he made 31 saves and held the Rangers to two goals in an important victory that sent the series back to Philadelphia with the two teams tied 1-1.
"We don't win that game without Razor," said captain Claude Giroux after the game. "He was solid. He's a competitor."
Emery also surrendered only one power-play goal despite the Flyers being down a man six times for a total of 11:27.
"He's a battler. Always has been," said Berube. "I've known Ray for a while. We had him here before. He stayed with it. He's very good at that. He's a true pro."
While thrust into the starting role after Mason went down following a collision during a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins last weekend, Emery is no novice. The 31-year-old goaltender has ample playoff experience from his previous time spent playing with the Ottawa Senators and Anaheim Ducks. He also backed up Corey Crawford on the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks last season.
"It's great to play in the playoffs," Emery said. "As a player, that's when you really want to play. I'm fortunate to be in there."
Mason skated for the third consecutive day Sunday before the team's game. He is expected to practice again on Monday, barring any setbacks from the injury.
"I'm assuming," Berube said of Mason being expected to skate again Monday. "But we'll see."
Though he has been asked several times, Mason has declined to reveal whether he is suffering from a concussion. On Friday, he revealed that he has had two concussions previously.
Mason has not made a playoff appearance since his Columbus Blue Jackets were swept in the first round of the Western Conference quarterfinals by the Detroit Red Wings during his rookie season in 2009.
The 25-year-old Mason, who earned a three-year contract extension with the Flyers earlier this season, said he is aiming to return for Game 3 on Tuesday.