Flyers

Former Flyers assistant coach Rick Wilson's comment on Shayne Gostisbehere a key reminder for 2019-20

Former Flyers assistant coach Rick Wilson's comment on Shayne Gostisbehere a key reminder for 2019-20

Maybe Shayne Gostisbehere and Rick Wilson weren't best friends.

That's OK.

A player and coach don't have to be buddy-buddy with each other, but they do have to understand each other. That's how you get the best out of a player.

In 2018-19, Gostisbehere underwhelmed significantly. He didn't blame anyone but himself. But he did play for two head coaches and two different assistants that oversaw the Flyers' defensemen. So, systematically and stylistically, things can change.

Wilson, with 30 years of NHL coaching experience, came on board in December. Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman caught up with Wilson for parts of his latest 31 Thoughts column, an always-excellent read for hockey folks.

The 68-year-old Wilson, who was not retained by the Flyers, offered some insight on the team's blueliners after working with them for the final four-plus months of the season.

Here was the section on Gostisbehere from Friedman's piece:

Wilson did not mention Shayne Gostisbehere, so I brought him up. He was careful.

'I would just say that I'm a little disappointed I couldn't help him bring more of his best on a consistent basis … he is very talented and it is in there.'

By the time the calendar flipped to 2019, the Flyers were allowing the NHL's third-most goals. In an attempt to clean up the team's issues, adjustments were made. Gostisbehere's ice time fluctuated at different points. The 26-year-old is an offensive-minded defenseman. His game is predicated on playing freely, taking calculated risks, moving the puck up ice and making things happen.

At his end-of-the-season press conference, Gostisbehere was asked if he felt he had the freedom to take chances on the ice throughout the year.

"With Rick coming in and different coaches and whatnot, they tweaked the style — not just me personally, but how he wants the defense to play," Gostisbehere said. "I wouldn't say they put handcuffs on me or anything, but they pulled the reins back quite a bit just in what they wanted us to do collectively as a D core."

None of this is to say Gostisbehere is some type of player incapable of being coached. None of it's to say his role isn't safe with the Flyers. He doesn't have a problem listening or taking instruction. His strengths, though, are sometimes criticized and put under a microscope for being viewed as not playing his position wisely or correctly.

"I just want to get better, get better as a player, I want to be a staple point as a defenseman in this league — one of the better ones, not one who's just looked at offensively," Gostisbehere said in April. "It's tough when you start a season and you see the net filling up and we're giving up seven goals every other game. Changes happen. It's tough, it was a tough season in general, but you've got to stick with it and remember what got you there."

All of this is further emphasis on how imperative coaching is to a player like Gostisbehere. Getting the best out of him is vital to the Flyers. When he's clicking, when he's dynamic, when he's elusive, the Flyers are substantially better. That was evident in 2017-18, when he experienced a career year with 65 points (13 goals, 52 assists), the fourth most among NHL defensemen.

"Ghost is obviously elite in some of those areas," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said in April. "He can break a guy down 1-on-1 and he can also make a 100-foot stretch pass."

Alain Vigneault and Mike Yeo are Gostisbehere's new coaches. How quickly the two mesh with an important player will be one of the biggest storylines in 2019-20.

"He's always been a believer of getting the puck going north and getting the D up in the play," Fletcher said of Vigneault. "I think our D is ideally suited for Alain."

That should be music to Gostisbehere's ears.

h/t to CBS Philly's Tom Dougherty.

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Flyers-Canadiens schedule for 2020 NHL playoffs: Dates, game times, broadcast information

Flyers-Canadiens schedule for 2020 NHL playoffs: Dates, game times, broadcast information

After sweeping the round robin to earn the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed, the Flyers on Wednesday will begin what they hope is a long and prosperous run through the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Wednesday marks Game 1 of the Flyers' best-of-seven first-round series against the 12th-seeded (or the new eighth-seeded) Canadiens, who upset the Penguins in the best-of-five qualifying round.

As the higher seed, the Flyers are the home team for the first two games, as well as Games 5 and 7, if necessary. With no fans, the home-away distinction still holds importance because home teams are awarded the last line change in games, which can be critical to matchups when outcomes are in the balance.

For Game 3 on the national broadcast, NBC Sports Philadephia will still hold Flyers Pregame Live and Postgame Live shows with analysis and interviews. That will be the case for any games on the national broadcast.

Another thing to note is the potential back-to-back scenario with Games 4 and 5. Carter Hart played only once on no days rest during the regular season and it was in relief duty. Canadiens veteran goaltender Carey Price, who turns 33 years old on Sunday, played on no days rest four times, going 0-2-2 with a 3.76 goals-against average and .864 save percentage.

The Flyers went 2-1-0 against Montreal in the regular season, with a 3-2 overtime win Nov. 7, a 4-3 overtime victory Nov. 30 and a 4-1 loss Jan. 16.

Below is the full Flyers-Canadiens first-round schedule:

Game 1 — Wednesday, Aug. 12, 8 p.m. ET, NBCSP
Game 2 — Friday, Aug. 14, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSP
Game 3 — Sunday, Aug. 16, 8 p.m. ET, NBC
Game 4 — Tuesday, Aug. 18, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSP
Game 5 — Wednesday, Aug. 19, TBD, TBD
Game 6 — Friday, Aug. 21, TBD, TBD
Game 7 — Sunday, Aug. 23, TBD, TBD

Below are the schedules for the other seven first-round series

Eastern Conference

Western Conference

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• Can the Flyers go all the way? Our Stanley Cup predictions are here

• Picture collage and signs show love for Flyers as they eye Cup run in Toronto

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• All types of Flyers odds (including the Cup) in NHL's 24-team tourney

• Scott 'couldn't be happier' with Flyers, but there's more action to be done

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• Flyers-Canadiens is perfect on paper, but would it be a trap?

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NHL goes full on dad mode with these jokes for fans watching at home

NHL goes full on dad mode with these jokes for fans watching at home

NHL playoff games create one of the most wild atmospheres in sports and a big fraction of that is due to the passionate fans that fill the seats. 

We all know that is not the case this time around, since games are being played in bubble cities and only a select amount of players and personnel have been allowed in. Surprisingly enough, not having fans in attendance hasn’t been too strange so far — watching from a television perspective, at least. The way the lower sections have been covered almost give the illusion to being an outdoor game. 

That, with crowd noise being pumped in? That’s just about as good as you can get, but the NHL hasn’t stopped there.

The league is aware of how crazy these circumstances have been and Rogers Arena in the Edmonton bubble is certainly having fun with it all. They’ve taken some of the most stereotypical announcements that tend to be said across the arena during games and found a way to make it absolutely hysterical. 

The fun started out during the Avalanche-Stars round robin game. With just a minute and a half to go in the third period and the Avalanche having a healthy lead, they made sure to say a reminder for all those watching from home. 

Nothing says a classic game like the iconic wave, right? Well, it turns out it was prohibited from this Golden Knights-Blues matchup. Does this mean the entire crowd wave or a simple wave hello? Were teams not allowed to be friendly to one another? Where does the NHL stand on a classic Ric Flair “WOO” during these times? These are the questions that will haunt us at night. 

There is a silver lining with watching games at home. Typically, concession stands close a little over the halfway point — since it allows for a prompt cleanup time. Seriously, who’s going to stand in line for a slice of pizza if the game is on the line with 10 minutes left in the third period? 

Anyways, now fans have the ability to head to concessions whenever they want … and one can bet the wait line is nonexistent. 

And, of course, the league made sure to thank and shout out their uh … fans. 

It’s been an incredibly fun tidbit to look for during games and one can only hope this will continue as the playoffs progress. 

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