Steve Mason understands the situation but obviously doesn't like it. The Flyers No. 1 goalie has been No. 2 the last three games, and he's aching to earn his spot back.
Coach Dave Hakstol pulled Mason early in the second period during a 4-3 shootout loss to the visiting New York Islanders on Dec. 8.
Mason allowed three goals and left with the Flyers trailing, 3-1. He hasn't been in the lineup since, replaced by Michal Neuvirth.
"It is not a fun situation, backing up all the time, but you realize your partner is playing well, and that is the role I am in," Mason said after Wednesday's practice. "You work hard, and that is basically all you can control, how hard you work and making sure you try to stay ready."
The Flyers are 2-1-1 in their last four games, with Neuvirth starting the last three. Even in the loss, a 3-1 defeat in Dallas, Neuvirth was strong. He allowed just two goals, as the Stars scored an empty-netter, and made 43 saves.
Neuvirth wasn't as sharp during Tuesday's 4-3 overtime win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
"I didn't start the game the way I wanted, but I bounced back and battled hard, and it was a huge two points for us," Neuvirth said.
As for making three straight starts, Neuvirth, who appeared in 32 games last year for Buffalo and the New York Islanders, said playing more has gotten him into a good rhythm.
"You can practice as much as you want, but the game is a different story, so the more I play, the more confident I get," he said. "The most important thing is my team has really been good."
Hakstol wouldn't say who would be in goal for Thursday's game at the Wells Fargo Center against the Vancouver Canucks.
"Neuvy has done a great job for us, and as of late he has been the guy who got more minutes, but Mase has also done a good job for our hockey team," Hakstol said.
While Mason can't wait to return, he is rational enough to see why he has been out of the lineup.
"Michal deserves the net, he is playing extremely well, probably one of the hottest goalies through the entire season, through the entire league, so all the credit goes to him," Mason said. "I haven't played as well as I wanted."
Mason got off to a slow start while dealing with a personal situation.
"Part of that is my own doing just because what happened at the beginning of the season and not having that consistency really," Mason said. "I felt like I was [gaining consistency], and I had a bad game there against the Islanders and got pulled, and there are things out of your control."
Mason has a 2.93 goals-against average and .905 save percentage. His record is 5-8-4. Neuvirth has a 2.06 goals against average, a .937 save percentage, and is 8-4-2.
Hakstol lauded Mason for the way he is handling the situation.
"I haven't seen any lull or I haven't seen him drop his head at all," Hakstol said. "He has gone out and worked hard and been a great teammate and will be ready to go when he gets the call."
Flyers director of scouting Chris Pryor is hoping the team will have a major presence at the World Junior Championships, which begin later this month in Finland. There are seven players vying for spots.
The seven Flyers products are defenseman Travis Sanheim and center Travis Konecny with Canada, forward Oskar Lindblom and goalie Felix Sandstrom with Sweden, defenseman Ivan Provorov and center Radel Fazleev with Russia and center David Kase with the Czech Republic.
"Overall, we have seven guys there and realistically we could have all seven, maybe on the downside five," Pryor said. "The best case is seven and we have our fingers crossed we will have seven."
The Flyers announced an alumni game on Feb. 5 at the Santander Arena in Reading. Among the already confirmed alumni are Danny Briere, Kimmo Timonen, Bob Clarke, Ray Allison, Bill Clement, Paul Holmgren, Bob Kelly, Brad Marsh, Dave Poulin, Brian Propp, and Joe Watson. Full alumni rosters will be announced closer to the event.
Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, who earned his third overtime game-winning goal on Tuesday against Carolina, is trying to keep it all in perspective.
"It's been fun for sure, but sometimes you have to pinch yourself," he said. "You definitely have to move on and worry about the next game [Thursday] against Vancouver."