Flyers weekly observations: Travis Sanheim's impact on Shayne Gostisbehere's role

Flyers weekly observations: Travis Sanheim's impact on Shayne Gostisbehere's role

The Flyers went to the shootout only once last week.

What's gotten into these guys?

Jokes aside, the Flyers had a solid but unspectacular stretch in which they went 1-1-1 with a quality road win over a divisional opponent. They were bit in the skills competition Saturday and have gone to the shootout seven times during November, which has made for an interesting month.

Let's get into that and more with our weekly observations:

• Shayne Gostisbehere watched Saturday's 3-2 shootout loss to the Flames from the press box. He opened the season as the Flyers' power play quarterback. On Game 23, he was a healthy scratch.

With Gostisbehere looking on, Travis Sanheim saw his role expand and it was noticeable. The 23-year-old played 23:16, his second-highest ice time of the season. He entered the game with a total of 6:22 minutes played on the man advantage. During Saturday's game, he played 2:51 on the power play and looked fluid at the point.

Sanheim, who has good size and a strong skating stride, recorded a goal and an assist over the week. The 2014 first-round pick could be a roadblock to Gostisbehere earning back his role and minutes.

The season is young and Gostisbehere didn't just lose his offensive ability. But the 26-year-old has hardly shown glimpses of his trademark slipperiness that helps the Flyers transition the puck up ice and break down the opposition. When he's not providing that, his effectiveness can drop.

Does Gostisbehere have the best traits of a simpler, bottom-pair guy? It's a fair question and makes Sanheim's job duties worth watching moving forward.

• Entering Monday, only three NHL teams had more points than the Flyers in November. Alain Vigneault's bunch has earned at least a point in 10 of 12 games this month (6-2-4).

Some of that is good, some of that is not so good.

The Flyers are in a playoff spot two games before Thanksgiving. Over the previous two seasons, the Flyers were in last place of the Metropolitan Division on Turkey Day.

Then again, the Flyers have lost four of seven shootouts during November. In three of those four shootout defeats, the Flyers held a lead in the third period. So far this month, eight of the Flyers' 12 games have gone past regulation. In six of those eight, the Flyers had a third-period advantage.

No team is going to close out every single game but the Flyers must start tacking onto leads and securing them. The shootout/overtime trend could eventually become costly.

• On Saturday, James van Riemsdyk played only 9:06 minutes, his lowest ice time in a game (non-injury related) since the 2010-11 season. JVR entered the week playing 16:33 minutes per game but played an average of 11 over the Flyers' three-game week.

He's currently on the Flyers' fourth line and is scoreless over his last seven games. The two-time 30-plus goal scorer might have to notch a greasy goal in limited minutes to climb back up the lineup.

The fourth line is not where he is best utilized.


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Flyers' Oskar Lindblom diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma

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Flyers' Oskar Lindblom diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma

Oskar Lindblom, a 23-year-old forward on the Flyers, is expected to miss the remainder of the 2019-20 season after being diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, the team announced Friday afternoon.

Ewing’s sarcoma is a rare form of cancer that occurs in bones or in the soft tissue around the bones.

Below is a statement from Flyers president of hockey operations and general manager Chuck Fletcher:

Philadelphia Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom has been diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma by leading specialists at the University of Pennsylvania. He will undergo further testing and evaluation next week and begin treatment immediately thereafter. He is not expected to return to play for the remainder of the season. The Flyers will do everything possible to support Oskar and assist him in securing the best care available. Out of respect for Oskar and his family, the team will have no further comment at this time and asks that Oskar be afforded a period of privacy so that he may focus his efforts on his treatment and a return to full health.

Lindblom, a native of Sweden, had been one of the Flyers’ top players through 30 games, scoring 11 goals and 18 points.

He was selected by the Flyers in the fifth round of the 2014 draft and has blossomed into a promising player.

Always smiling, positive and humble, Lindblom is beloved by his teammates. His rise from a fifth-round pick to a difference-making player has been a product of hard work.

After scoring 17 goals last season, sixth most among NHL rookies, Lindblom went back to Gävle, Sweden, to train all summer with his old team Brynäs IF.

"It’s like five minutes from my house," Lindblom said during training camp.

“It was nice to be back home for a bit, just relaxed, had some time with friends and family, so it was great.”

It didn't take long for the Flyers' new coaching staff to fall in love with Lindblom's game as the winger raced out of the chute, scoring in the team's season opener and playing a major role ever since.

“I didn’t know much about Oskar before coming here, but what I’ve found is a real smart, two-way player, hard-working young man," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said Oct. 26.

In the summer of 2017, Lindblom talked about his climb within the Flyers' system.

"I just think about it by myself, like fifth-rounder, I just felt like I can play and I can be on this level," Lindblom said.

By the age of 23, he has more than made it on the highest level.

Below is the outpouring of support for Lindblom, via social media:

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Shorthanded Flyers can't keep up with Avalanche to begin road trip

Shorthanded Flyers can't keep up with Avalanche to begin road trip


From the moment it was announced that Oskar Lindblom would miss Wednesday night's game, the Flyers' chances at Pepsi Center felt bleak.

No Lindblom, no Travis Konecny and facing the NHL's highest-scoring team in its building was not a promising script for the Flyers, who lost to the Avalanche, 3-1.

In stretches this season, the Flyers have struggled to bury goals. And that has been with Lindblom and Konecny — their two leading goal-scorers at 11 apiece — in the lineup.

The Flyers (17-9-5) did some good things but Colorado finished plays behind its world class talent up top.

The Avalanche (20-8-3) are on an eight-game point streak (7-0-1) in which they've scored 4.13 goals per game.

• Without Konecny (concussion) and Lindblom (upper body), the Flyers had difficulty putting the puck in the net. They were going to have to put up some goals against the Avalanche, who entered scoring an NHL-best 3.70 goals per game. For the second time in the last three games, the Flyers scored only one goal.

The lone tally came from Claude Giroux when the Flyers were trailing 3-0 with just over five minutes remaining in regulation.

• Following a first period in which they survived, especially in the back half of it thanks to Carter Hart, the Flyers actually played a solid second period. At one point during the middle stanza, the Flyers were outshooting Colorado 11-0.

But as the Flyers kept pushing to no avail, the Avalanche changed the whole complexion of the period with one play by their two best weapons. Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen hooked up for a nasty marker to make it 2-0 with 3:55 left in the period, a deflating goal to allow for the Flyers (see highlights).

Considering Colorado was 14-0-1 when leading after the middle period, the Flyers were in a serious hole, even after a hard-working period.

• Hart, who entered 8-2-2 with a 1.96 goals-against average and .928 save percentage over his last 12 starts, faced the Avalanche for the first time in his career.

He made a highlight-reel save and gave the Flyers a fighting chance in tough circumstances.

The 21-year-old has been impressive during the first period all season long, allowing the Flyers to find their legs and rhythm. He converted 12 of his 24 saves in the opening stanza against Colorado.

On the Avalanche's first-period goal, Scott Laughton won a defensive zone faceoff but the Flyers failed to clear the puck, resulting in Matt Calvert's tally.

Rantanen added his second goal early in the third period and that was pretty much the game.

Colorado goalie Pavel Francouz, who came in 5-0-1 with a 2.36 goals-against average and .926 save percentage over his last eight games (six starts), finished with 32 stops.

• When Philippe Myers (back spasms, day to day) is ready to return, Robert Hagg should be the odd man out on defense. Shayne Gostisbehere has found some of his offensive mojo and Myers has shown way too much promise to be sitting when healthy.

A stay-at-home guy like Hagg was far too noticeable against the Avalanche. He committed a penalty and was a minus-2 in 15:21 minutes.

• David Kase was summoned to Denver this morning to make his NHL debut and become the ninth rookie to play for the Flyers this season

The 22-year-old winger had a nice scoring chance and two shots in 7:47 minutes. 

• The Flyers head to the old stomping grounds of general manager Chuck Fletcher and assistant general manager Brent Flahr when they visit the Wild on Saturday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

Fletcher was the GM in Minnesota from 2009 to 2018 and Flahr was his AGM from 2010 to 2018.

The Flyers have not lost consecutive games in regulation since Oct. 27-29.

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