The Flyers will begin an eight-game road trip facing a big obstacle - goaltender Steve Mason will miss at least the first two games with an upper-body injury.
Mason suffered the injury during Friday's practice at the Skate Zone in a 3-on-3 drill. He lay in pain on the ice and was down for about seven minutes before being helped off.
Later in the afternoon, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall had this injury update: "Steve Mason has an upper-body injury and is out for the weekend. We will have an update on Monday."
At the time of his injury, the Flyers were nearing the end of practice. The Flyers traveled to Toronto after practice for Saturday's game with the Maple Leafs.
Mason was not with the team on the flight.
Speculation is that Mason injured his back.
"It is what it looked like," forward R.J. Umberger said about Mason's back. "He grabbed something behind him and reached for the puck."
Flyers coach Craig Berube didn't get a good view of what caused the injury.
"I didn't see a whole lot and don't know exactly what happened to be honest with you," Berube said. "I was watching the guys with the drill we were doing and I looked over and Mason is kind of on his stomach. From there I didn't see what happened."
Watching the situation unfold had an unsettling effect on the team.
"Seeing him down for a long time and he didn't move that well, it was a shock for the team," defenseman Mark Streit said.
During a disappointing season in which the Flyers have entered Friday eight points out of an eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot, Mason has held up his end, especially after a rocky start. Overall, Mason has a 6-10-5 record with a 2.46 goals against average and .921 save percentage.
"It is tough to see your starting goalie and the guy who kind of held this team together when we weren't playing well and it's tough to see him go down like this," forward Matt Read said.
Backup Ray Emery, who is 5-4-1 with a 3.05 goals against average and .899 save percentage, was unavailable for comment after practice, as was Mason.
The Flyers recalled goaltender Rob Zepp on an emergency basis from their AHL affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Zepp, 33, has a 2.70 GAA and .918 save percentage in 17 games for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
This is a road trip that is extremely critical for the Flyers. After playing in Toronto, Winnipeg and Minnesota (on Dec. 23), the Flyers will return home for a few days before leaving again on Dec. 26 for the final five games, which begin Dec. 27 in Nashville.
The Flyers are just 3-9-3 on the road. Only Edmonton, with a 2-9-5 mark, entered Friday with fewer road wins.
"It, for sure is a big, big road trip," Berube said. "We need points."