Flyers

Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. -- The longtime scout has seen it before.
 
He recognizes when a young player has lost his confidence and just how difficult it is to regain.
 
He’s been watching Shayne Gostisbehere since he first came into the Flyers' organization in 2013 with the Phantoms.
 
What "Ghost" is going through right now  – a healthy scratch two games in succession for the first time as a Flyer – amounts to a crisis in confidence, he said.
 
Based on Sunday’s practice at Flyers Skate Zone, Gostisbehere will remain scratched for Monday’s game against St. Louis.
 
“Right from the get-go, he has lost a lot of confidence,” the scout said this weekend. “I think he got off to a struggle early. There have been a number of guys like that around the league this year.
 
“The most difficult thing for anybody to get out of a funk, from every player I have known, is to battle your way through it in practice. It’s hard to do that in games.”
 
Because of the NHL’s compressed schedule and lack of quality practice time where a team can practice two days in succession without a game, it’s hard to work on what needs fixed.
 
Gostisbehere is getting in extra practice right now, along with Travis Konecny, who also will likely sit against the Blues.
 
“There’s different ways and different opportunities to develop,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “Being in the lineup is one of those. When you are out of the lineup, and I have heard both our guys talk the last couple days of working hard, working different areas of their game.”
 
Mark Streit said Sunday it took him a while to get a handle on the differences of playing in lesser league or even Europe, and then moving into the NHL. Gostisbehere is finding that out now.
 
“There’s no easy way to transition into this league,” Hakstol said. “Everybody goes through it, through the ups and downs. It’s how you handle that.”
 
The scout saw Gostisbehere earlier this season in Carolina and noticed something.
 
“He scored a goal in Carolina and for the next 20 minutes looked like the 'Ghost' of last year,” the scout recalled. “Then he was on for a bad-luck goal against and he sagged a little. He was so dynamic last year. We know it’s there. It will come back. It takes time.”
 
Watch Gostisbehere and Claude Giroux closely this season and you’ll notice both of them seem steps slower. The quick burst and separation speed isn’t there. There’s a reason for that even though both players deny it: hip surgery.
 
Gostisbehere and Giroux each had right hip (labrum) and abdominal surgery over the summer. Both were back on the ice in mid-September, participating at the World Cup of Hockey, just four months after surgery.
 
Most players say it takes up to a year to regain full motion in the hips and feel totally normal again.
 
Gostisbehere's biggest asset last season was his ability to transition quickly. If he turned a puck over, in a flash, he was able to recover and instantly front his man without chasing from behind.
 
He can’t do that this year. Similarly, Giroux has been caught flat-footed, at times, on the backcheck, unable to rejoin the play.
 
Neither player is dogging it. It’s the reality of post-surgical consequences for this injury that takes a extended time to fully recover.
 
“Yes that is part of it,” the scout said, speaking of Gostisbehere. “Part of the whole thing. He had his surgery, missed some of his training, then they had a World Cup and he went there when that was two-three weeks more of training he could have used. That kinda takes away from it.
 
“There are some plays where 'Ghost' is getting beat off the wall back to the net and he has taken a bad angle on somebody. Those are teaching things. His skill set is there. I know he is a competitive S.O.B. because I saw that last year.”
 
For all the turnovers Gostisbehere has had and lack of explosiveness this season, he is still a force on the ice during power play and 3-on-3 overtime.
 
Streit has taken Gostisbehere's spot back on the top power play during his benching. The power play is 1 for 5 during Gostisbehere's absence, lacking for zone time and quality shots from the point.
 
“They miss him on the power play,” the scout said. “He’s pretty dynamic there. Pretty important part of the power play and a weapon on the blue line to be honored and respected. The rest of his game has suffered a bit. I have no doubt he will get back. It will take a while.”
 
The scout recalled going through confidence crises early in his career and even later. He said he poured over game films to find solutions to improve his game.
 
“[Gostisbehere has] great tangibles,” the scout said. “He needs to fix a few things. Getting behind the eight-ball with surgery, the World Cup and not enough practice. It’s a tough thing. Hopefully, he has a good attitude.
 
“Put your nose to the grindstone and keep working at it. When you can’t get practice, you start to lose confidence. It happened to me when I was older in my career, too. I think that is a huge part of the equation.”
 
An equation that will eventually be solved.
 
Loose pucks

Hakstol would not commit on whether he will make a lineup change, but both Gostisbehere and Konency remained on the ice taking extended practice while the starters returned to the locker room early. … Michal Neuvirth will start his third straight game in net Monday. … Andrew MacDonald had a maintenance day off the ice while Michael Del Zotto (leg/bone bruise) did not skate. ... The Flyers will hold their morning skate in Voorhees on Monday and likely will be doing that with more frequency the remainder of the season.