There is intrigue surrounding the status of Flyers goalie Steve Mason for Thursday's playoff opener against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

Mason is trying to overcome an unspecified upper-body injury; he is believed to have whiplash symptoms after being in a collision in Pittsburgh on Saturday. The goalie practiced briefly with the team Tuesday in Voorhees.

A decision on Mason's availability for Game 1 is expected to be made after Wednesday's practice, said general manager Paul Holmgren, who would not say whether Mason had a concussion.

"Whether he plays or doesn't play, he's getting better each day," coach Craig Berube said.

The 6-foot-4 goaltender was on the ice for about 40 minutes - 15 during practice, 25 while working with goalie coach Jeff Reese - and said he was making strides.

"I thought he looked decent," Berube said.

Winger Wayne Simmonds said it was encouraging to see Mason on the ice for the first time since he was hurt.

"Obviously, he's a big part of our team, and hopefully he'll be ready for Game 1," he said.

Berube was asked whether he was confident in Ray Emery, who would start if Mason cannot play.

"How confident did I look all year with him?" the coach said.

The Rangers also are dealing with a key injury. Derick Brassard, the center on one of New York's top lines, left practice Tuesday clutching his lower back, and he was replaced in power-play drills by call-up J.T. Miller.

The Rangers' first-year coach, Alain Vigneault, said he expected Brassard to play Thursday. He scored 18 goals while centering a line with Benoit Pouliot (15) and Mats Zuccarello (19).

The Rangers are expected to be without Chris Kreider (17 goals) for the entire series; one of the team's top six wingers, he had surgery on his left hand on March 28.