Flyers

Shayne Gostisbehere reflects on 'awesome' point streak

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Shayne Gostisbehere reflects on 'awesome' point streak

NEW YORK — The nickname came during his freshman year at Union College.

Shayne Gostisbehere was at a campus party when he bumped into sophomore forward Josh Jooris, who now plays for the Calgary Flames.

“Josh came up to me and started calling me Ghostbusters,” recalled Gostisbehere. “That turned into Ghost. I got a nickname from a nickname. It’s a pretty cool nickname. I love it.”

These days, everyone who follows Flyers hockey knows who “Ghost” is and what he’s about.

And after this weekend, Ghost has gone international.

On Saturday against the Devils, Gostisbehere extended his rookie point streak to 11 games with a power-play goal. That established a new Flyers franchise mark for a rookie, breaking Mikael Renberg’s 1993-94 record.

At the same time, the 11 games also set a new NHL record for points streak by a rookie defenseman, breaking Barry Beck’s 1977-78 mark with Colorado.

His power-play assist during the 3-1 loss to the Rangers extended that streak to 12 games.

By Sunday evening, the 22-year-old Floridian had time to reflect on the record as well as the whirlwind it’s been for him in just 36 games since being called up in mid-November.

“It’s awesome,” Gostisbehere said. “It’s history. And it’s pretty cool to be part of history. Especially, so early in my career. I can’t thank my teammates enough. Without them, I could not do any of that.

“Like the goal. Simmer (Wayne Simmonds) jumping in mid-air to get in [New Jersey Devils goalie Cory] Schneider’s eyes. Little things like that. Guys putting the puck in the net for me when I pass it to them. It’s a team effort with me getting the accolades.”

Gostisbehere is third on the Flyers with 18 power-play points. His 10 goals are fourth on the team. Among all NHL rookies, he is fifth in scoring with 31 points and had played at least 20 less games than the leaders.

His six power-play goals are tied for the rookie lead. He leads all rookies in power-play assists (13) and points (18) and is fourth in game-winning goals (3).

“People should be excited by this young guy,” Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. “What he has done entering the league has been very impressive. You are always challenged by what you can do the next day. His start has been exciting and it’s been impactful.

“As long as he keeps his feet on the ground, which he continually speaks well to, and he is hungry to improve and get better every day, he’ll continue to answer that question about what he brings the next day.”

Don’t think for a minute that Ghost doesn’t know that. He was keenly aware of general manager Ron Hextall’s comments all through the summer and training camp about patience in developing rookies, not pushing the envelope, and making sure young players who get a chance don’t get too comfortable in their surroundings.

Hextall wants his prospects to pay their dues. Even when he called Ghost up from the Phantoms, Hextall fretted over how other prospects would react. That is, would they think it’s too easy to get to the NHL level? Or maybe all they needed was an injury to a veteran player to propel them.

Gostisbehere understood Hextall’s concerns.

“I wasn’t a high draft pick or first-rounder,” said Gostisbehere, who was picked in the third round of the 2012 draft. “I went to college. It is different. I think it depends on the player himself. … When you get your number called, you go out and … make it tough on them to send you back down.

“That’s what stuck in my mind. Play the game and show him I can be an everyday player. I wasn’t trying to show him he was wrong. He has a plan for everyone. You need to trust your general manager. He has proven that patience is a key.”

Hakstol admits that Ghost has exceeded his expectations. Then again, Hakstol really had none to begin with given Gostisbehere was an injury recall and would not have been here had it not been for Mark Streit’s surgery last November.

“He is excelling in the first couple months in the league on the offensive side and that is what brings and draws attention,” Hakstol said.

That's another way of saying what the Flyers want to see is for him to excel on the defensive side of the puck. Man-up play. Play in front of the net. Moving the puck out of the defensive zone confidently and efficiently without turnovers.

“Those things are very important, too,” Hakstol said. “His overall game coming into the league has been good. How hard are you willing to push every day to make it better?”

Gostisbehere says there is a trickle-down effect to other defensive prospects in the organization — Sam Morin, Robert Hagg, Travis Sanheim, Mark Alt and Ivan Provorov.

“I want to set a good example, show them you can have fun and stay humble doing it,” Gostisbehere said. “If you get a big head, bad things can happen. Stay within yourself, work hard. Success will come.”

The shadow of last season starting to loom for Flyers

The shadow of last season starting to loom for Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. — You don’t have to remind the Flyers that they’ve gone three straight games without a win — two of those losses at home to opponents (Panthers, Devils) who were last in their division at the time.

And the Flyers (9-9-2) certainly don’t need to be reminded this is the same exact point in the season a year ago when they went through a pummeling stretch of winless hockey with a 0-5-5 record from Nov. 11 to Dec. 2. 

The first 20 games of the season are a near carbon copy of what transpired a year ago when the team also had a .500 record at 8-8-4. The question moving forward is can the Flyers learn from last year’s mistakes and breakdowns that led to a 10-game winless stretch?

“We were in a big hole last year. We’re not in a big hole this year,” Jakub Voracek said Tuesday. “It could give us a little more confidence that we don’t have to chase as much as we did last year, but we have to find more consistency in our game.“

After taking the previous two days off — Sunday was the Flyers Wives Carnival and Monday was a designated day off — the Flyers returned to practice showing a little rust.

Dave Hakstol felt confident in what he’s seen over the past three games to keep the same line combinations during Tuesday's practice, including leaving James van Riemsdyk on the third line with Jordan Weal and Wayne Simmonds. Before Saturday’s five-goal performance, sparked by a remarkable four-goal outburst in the third period, the Flyers had gone 110:38 without a goal.

“We’ve generated more in those last three games than we have in the previous five games on average,” Hakstol said. “The opportunities are coming. We weren’t able to finish. We talked about different ways that we could do a little better, simple things, get guys to the net. Obviously, the most important thing is to finish on enough of those to put us in a good spot.”

In order to avoid the snowball from building and a potential fourth straight loss, the Flyers will have to derail a red-hot Buffalo Sabres team Wednesday that has won six straight games, all by one goal, during its longest winning streak in nine years. 

“They have a couple of new additions to their team and they’re working really well right now. It’s a dangerous group. It’s going to be tough for us,” Voracek said. “So far every game has been tough. It’s a 50/50 chance every single night. It’s been pretty even so far this year, but it’s going to start breaking down after about 45 games.

“You’re going to see a bigger picture of what’s going to happen down the road. It’s too early to judge right now.”

Lyon could see pair of starts

With three games compacted into four days over the Thanksgiving holiday, Alex Lyon is expected to receive one and possibly two starts this week. Lyon was the first goaltender off the ice during Tuesday’s practice as a sign that he could be called upon Wednesday night in Buffalo.

Lyon said there’s an NHL mindset he needs to work his way into whenever he receives the call up from Lehigh Valley.

“In the American League, you have from Sunday until Thursday typically to sit at your home and relax,” Lyon said. “Call a spade a spade, the stress level is a little bit less in the American League.” 

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Flyers stock watch: As Claude Giroux goes, so do the Flyers

Flyers stock watch: As Claude Giroux goes, so do the Flyers

After a 5-0-1 stretch of solid hockey and signs that the Flyers were climbing their way up in the Metropolitan Division, they took a step back.

The Flyers are once again a middle-of-the-pack team after failing to capitalize during a recent five-game homestand, finishing with a 2-2-1 mark (see weekly observations).

At the quarter pole of the NHL season, it’s time to take inventory of who’s up and who’s down in this week’s stock watch. 

Stock up

Claude Giroux
It’s a pretty simple formula: When Giroux scores, the Flyers' chances of winning increase significantly. In the six games that Giroux has been held without a point, the Flyers are 0-5-1. They're 9-4-1 when he cracks the scoresheet. Overall, Giroux’s game has been steady and a continuation from what we saw last season. The captain currently has five multi-point games over his past nine and has been saddled with some major minutes (at least 22 in each of the past five games) while adding penalty-kill duties.  

Sean Couturier
We’re finally starting to see the Couturier that made him into a Selke Trophy finalist last season. After a slow start of trying to find his speed and timing, Couturier has been the Flyers' most consistent player at both ends of the ice. His three-point effort against the Blackhawks was the pinnacle of the season as he outmuscled Chris Kunitz to score on Corey Crawford. With just three points in his first 11 games, Couturier has found his stride offensively with points (five goals, six assists) in seven of his last nine games.  

Stock down

Oskar Lindblom
If I was writing this column 10 days ago, Lindblom’s stock would be at an all-time high, but he’s regressed over the past week. After an impressive five-game point streak in which he tallied two goals and five assists, Lindblom has just one assist over his past four games and has seen his ice time dip from the 16-minute range to playing just 10:07 in a 3-0 loss to the Devils on Thursday. It should be a matter of time before James van Riemsdyk reasserts himself on that line, leaving Lindblom with third-line minutes.

Jori Lehtera
Dave Hakstol finally came to the realization that Lehtera has been bringing very little to the Flyers. Once JVR finally returned to the Flyers' lineup, Lehtera was the one who came out, and as a result, forced Hakstol to move Scott Laughton back to center. Lehtera’s recent lack of ice time is a reflection of how he’s played and how he’s turned into a “black hole” in the offensive end of the ice. In his last seven games, Lehtera hasn’t registered a single shot on net and has proven to be a liability on the penalty kill.  

Nolan Patrick
Much is expected out of the 20-year-old, who like Lindblom, broke out of his early season shell during the Flyers' recent trip out West. But like any young player, Patrick has failed to keep a level of consistency throughout his overall play. While he maintains defensive responsibilities on a rather consistent basis, his offense and his aggressiveness to push play in the opponent’s zone are sporadic. Patrick currently has one goal and two points over his past six games and had a brief opportunity to solidify his place on the top power-play unit. It’s not that Patrick has been a bad player, but he’s displayed the ability to be a better player.

Travis Sanheim
To his credit, Sanheim has cleaned up his game defensively to the point that he doesn’t make you nervous in his own end of the ice. However, with Sanheim’s size, he should be more of a physical presence in separating a player from the puck. Too often, he loses those battles. But Sanheim’s strength is in his offense by pushing the puck up the ice and creating offensive chances. To that end, he’s been nonexistent over his past 10 games and hasn’t registered a single point. Even playing 17 minutes on a regular basis, there has to be a more concerted effort on Sanheim’s part to generate offense. Otherwise, that skill set simply goes to waste.

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