DEPENDING ON how you interpret the tone of general manager Paul Holmgren and coach Craig Berube, goaltender Steve Mason might not be ready for Game 1 of the Flyers' first-round series with the Rangers tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden.
Either that, or the Flyers prefer to keep their opponent guessing with gamesmanship.
Mason practiced for nearly 20 minutes yesterday before a planned exit from the ice whisked him into video review and meetings.
Holmgren said Mason, still suffering from the ill effects of a collision with Jayson Megna in Pittsburgh on Saturday, was out of the training facility a short time later and "receiving treatment."
"I feel better each day, and we'll see how I feel [today]," Mason said in a text-message statement released by the team.
The legendary head games of the Stanley Cup playoffs are again upon us. A bright man once said that the diagonal rule applies to team disclosure of injuries during the postseason: If the team says it's a player's left shoulder, consider that it could be his right knee.
For now, the Flyers are remaining mum on Mason's "upper-body" injury. With many suspecting whiplash symptoms, Holmgren was pressed why he could not publicly rule out a concussion at this point. It is important to point out, though, that Mason's legs were also awkwardly contorted under his body during Saturday's collision.
"We're at a critical point of our season," Holmgren replied. "I don't feel the need to divulge what [Mason's] injury is at this point."
Holmgren and Berube both said the Flyers would decide this morning, when Mason is expected to increase his practice time. Mason, 25, is 4-1-1 with a .928 save percentage and 2.49 goals-against average in his career against the Rangers.
"I thought he looked decent," Berube said. "He came out for a little bit and got some work in. We didn't want him out there very long. We just wanted to get him out there, get some shots, get him to see how he felt."
Berube was asked whether he felt as confident yesterday in his declaration from Saturday that Mason would play tomorrow night, to which he began with an "Ummmm," before saying "yeah."
Naturally, that led to the next question asked regarding Berube's confidence in Ray Emery if Mason cannot play. Emery is 7-2-0 with a .936 save percentage and 1.87 goals-against average lifetime vs. New York.
"How confident did I look all year with him?" Berube quipped.
The lesson is to decipher tone - and injury reports - at your own peril in the playoffs.