Flyers

Shayne Gostisbehere returns, Philippe Myers comes out and competition is brewing on Flyers' blue line

Shayne Gostisbehere returns, Philippe Myers comes out and competition is brewing on Flyers' blue line

Claude Giroux said on Monday that "in-house competition is always good."

The Flyers have it brewing on the blue line.

Much of the internal competition has to do with Robert Hagg seeing the ice and playing well. The stay-at-home defenseman drew into the lineup because Shayne Gostisbehere's offensive game has fallen short of expectations.

Over the past three games in which Gostisbehere was a healthy scratch, Hagg played physically, blocked seven shots and the Flyers allowed only five goals.

“Haggs has been playing really well, probably played his best game since I’ve been here last game in Columbus — blocked shots, made a big play on a 2-on-1 toward the end of the game, so I want to keep him in," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said before Friday's game against the Red Wings.

But the Flyers have not lost belief in Gostisbehere's offensive abilities. He's a 26-year-old defenseman who scored 65 points in 2017-18. To see his strengths come back to life, he has to play. He entered the lineup Friday in place of Philippe Myers as the Flyers opened a back-to-back set to finish a 16-game November.

“I want him to play to his strengths," Vigneault said of Gostisbehere. "He’s a skilled defenseman, so beat the forecheck, make that good first pass, jump up in the play when the opportunity is there. The best and the toughest offense to defend is when you have that second wave, when you have your Ds being a part of the attack. He’s a smart player, he knows when it’s time for him to jump up.

"His defensive play has been fine, he’s battled, he’s competed, I like his 1-on-1s. He’s got to play to his strengths, he’s aware of that and hopefully he does that for us.”

Myers, 22, has not played poorly. The 6-foot-5, 210-pounder has six points (three points, three assists) and a plus-9 mark in 13 games. However, Hagg has played well, the schedule is jam-packed and Vigneault wants to spark Gostisbehere.

"Nobody likes sitting out, there’s no doubt, and I would expect the guys to be a little upset, but at the end of the day, they’ve got to keep themselves ready for the team," Vigneault said. "The team at some point is going to need them. I want to get Ghost back in, at some point we’re going to need Phil and we’re going to expect him to be ready and jump back in.

“We’ve got seven healthy D right now.”

Which means players are fighting to suit up. That's not a bad thing.

Let the competition begin.

 

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Dear Flyers fans, this is certainly not the April we were expecting

Dear Flyers fans, this is certainly not the April we were expecting

Dear Flyers fans, 

Hi, me again — you might remember me from that bandwagon letter from what seems like forever ago. I’m back, but this time, this letter is for the fans that have been waiting years for a team like this. Trust me, so have I. 

The Stanley Cup Playoffs would have started Wednesday night, and like many following the All-Star break back in January — everyone started buzzing about the Flyers. They started winning games … games that would have been deemed a loss before they even started in the past — and doing so dominantly. They were winning against teams they needed to win against … and even tackled the pesky trap games. 

It wasn’t easy all of the time. Some nights the puck luck just wasn't on their side — but every single night became a battle. Every two points mattered. As they climbed the standings in the league and Metropolitan Division, this team was never content with where it was — always wanting to improve. Even following impressive outings, the leaders of the locker room wouldn’t focus on their successes, but rather what they still wanted to improve on for the next matchup. 

This was a fire in the Flyers that fans have not seen in years. I’ve used the term “cautious optimism” so much in the past — because that’s exactly what it was. In previous seasons, there would be sparks that gave a small sense of hope, only for that hope to be crushed some way or another. That never happened this year — well, that is, until play stopped. 

For the first time in a long time, it wasn’t keeping our fingers crossed to sneak into the playoffs. We were ready to watch Philadelphia make some noise and take down everyone in its track to the Final. They always say, “All you have to do is make the playoffs and then it’s anybody’s game.” 

This season, it wasn’t anybody’s game — it was the Flyers’ game. You might’ve called me crazy if this was being said back in October, but many now would agree. Things felt different

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t upset thinking about how the Wells Fargo Center would’ve been jam-packed with orange and black this week. 

Playoff T-shirts being used as rally towels. 

“Crosby sucks” chants so loud the walls would shake. (If they played the Penguins, of course.) 

Witnessing Carter Hart’s first playoff game in front of a home crowd. 

Seeing whatever chaos Gritty would’ve been doing. 

Walking into work and seeing fans that had been tailgating for hours before the Wells Fargo Center would even open the doors. 

Willingly spending $50 on concessions to help calm the nerves. 

That first goal and celly that would’ve ignited a run for the ages. 

Even the sticky floors walking to and from your seats during intermission. 

We’ve been waiting for it … but now we’ll just have to wait a little bit longer. 

The only positive — and probably the biggest one — is that this team wasn’t structured for one run and done. The years of drafting and building up the prospect pool, creating a strong locker room with veterans respected by all, bringing in a coach with years of playoff experience and trusting the process were all done for this reason. This is a deep team, every way you look at it, and it'll only get better in the next few seasons. 

So whenever hockey does return, whether it be late in the summer or the start of next season, get ready. My gut says they’ll be back stronger than ever before and won’t rest until the Stanley Cup has a route down Broad Street. 

Sincerely, 

A Flyers fan who was really looking forward to covering the first playoff series of her career, but will wait because the safety of others is most definitely more important right now.

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What nickname would Kevin Hayes give you?

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USA Today Images/NBC Sports Philadelphia

What nickname would Kevin Hayes give you?

Kevin Hayes’ résumé has been a compilation of crazy since entering Philadelphia. From completely transforming the penalty kill, to becoming Gritty’s roommate and even co-hosting a day in his new Instagram show, being a former ref and last but certainly not least — creating absolutely insane nicknames for his teammates. 

I did some research (thank you videos of Hayes being mic’d up) and pulled some of the best nicknames throughout the season. 

Which nickname do you think Hayes would give you?

Take the quiz below and find out! 

 

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