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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