Injury updates dominated the news surrounding the Rangers and Flyers on Wednesday, each team's last day to prepare for the start of their first-round playoff series which gets underway Thursday night with Game One at Madison Square Garden.
For the Rangers there was the good news of Derick Brassard practicing and declaring himself "100 percent healthy" after leaving Tuesday's practice early with a tight back; but with the Flyers the news was not as positive as their No. 1 goaltender Steve Mason was unable to practice Wednesday due to an undisclosed injury and was ruled out of the first game of the series.
"There's no question in my mind, I feel 100 percent for tomorrow," Brassard told reporters after Wednesday's practice at the MSG Training Center. "It was a precaution to get me off the ice, and then resting before the game tomorrow. I feel 100 percent so I am ready to go. I want to be ready to help the team tomorrow."
Brassard is obviously an integral part of the Rangers, their fourth leading scorer this season with 45 points and the team's top point producer in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs with 12 points in 12 games. He centers the team's most consistent line with Mats Zuccarello and Benoit Pouliot, and is a force on the power play where he was second on the team with 18 points this season.
As for Mason, who emerged as Philly's No. 1 goalie this season, he was hurt during a goal mouth collision during Saturday's 4-3 overtime victory in Pittsburgh. The Flyers had maintained that Mason would be ready to play in Game One Thursday, but he practiced on an extremely limited basis Tuesday and then did not take the ice at all on Wednesday, cementing head coach Craig Berube's decision to go with the veteran Ray Emery in Game One.
"He's out, he's not 100 percent," Berube told reporters Wednesday. "I said if he were not 100 percent he would not play. Listen, there's injuries. Things happen. Good teams find a way to get it done."
When informed of the news, most of the Rangers reacted in similar fashion, shrugging their shoulders and saying that there is no significant benefit for them whether Mason plays or Emery plays.
"They're different goalies, so you pick different spots to shoot, but they are both great goalies," explained Rick Nash. "You're going to have to outwork both of them if you want to score against them. No, I don't see any advantage here. Emery is a great goalie, he's been in this league for a while. I don't see (Mason's injury) as an advantage."
Added Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault, "They're two very good goaltenders and we're prepared for both."
Mason started three of the four games played between the Rangers and Flyers this season, allowing six goals and winning two of three. Emery was in net on January 12th at The Garden, a 4-1 Rangers victory. He faced 35 shots and stopped 31 in the loss.
"Steve had a really good season, and Emery is a goalie that has shown in the past that he can play in the playoffs, so for us we just focus on how we want to play and it really doesn't matter who's in net," offered Brassard, who shared an apartment with Mason when the two were teammates with the Blue Jackets.