USATSI_9138481_154158418_lowresThe durability of Philadelphia Flyers netminder Michal Neuvirth has long been in doubt, as injury struggles pepper his career.

And the 27-year-old Czech is again on the sidelines, this time for three weeks thanks to an upper body injury. The Flyers announced the news on Sunday, with Steve Mason set to shoulder the remaining load with the team three points back of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.

This time around, it looks like Neuvirth injured himself stretching during warmups. He was slated to start on Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins, but the job fell to Mason just before the game. The Flyers lost by a final score of 4-1, by the way.

This is terrible timing for Philly. They’ve seen good hockey come out of the Neuvirth/Mason tandem, but that’s going to be tested as Anthony Stolarz likely gets his debut. The Flyers’ schedule is on the mean side, with four back-to-back scenarios to go and a final run of four games in five nights. That’s going to test Mason’s resolve.

It’s also going to test the Flyers’ gumption.

Will they start Stolarz, a 22-year-old New Jersey native and an all-star with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, in the middle of a playoff push?

It seems likely, especially as Philadelphia gears up for a back-to-back. They face the New York Islanders on Monday and see the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday.

Neuvirth was having a career-best season with the Flyers before injuries took him yet again. His 2.28 goals against average and .925 save percentage were career highlights, but he may be done piling up numbers for this season.

As for Mason, the 27-year-old from Oakville has a 2.62 goals against average and a .915 save percentage this season. He has four shutouts in 43 games.

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