Philadelphia Flyers

Shayne Gostisbehere, not Ivan Provorov, cracks NHL Network's top 20 active defensemen

Shayne Gostisbehere, not Ivan Provorov, cracks NHL Network's top 20 active defensemen

A young Flyers defenseman cracked the NHL Network's top 20 defensemen list, but it's not exactly who you are thinking.

Shayne Gostisbehere, not Ivan Provorov, was listed Sunday night as the league's 17th best blueliner as NHL Network continued its nine-part series looking at the game's top players.

That's not a slight to Gostisbehere by any means, but many would argue that Provorov's overall game is far more in tune of a top-tier player than Gostisbehere.

Here is NHL Network Ken Daneyko's explanation for "Ghost," who ranks right behind Boston's Torey Krug and ahead of Carolina's Dougie Hamilton:

"He really came into his own last year. This kid is dynamic, and for me, I think there are some defensive liabilities, but because how offensive the game has become and defensemen being part of that offense, Gostisbehere can do it all. He's shifty and can make a pass in the blink of an eye for a great scoring chance."

Gostisbehere had a frustrating sophomore season in 2016-17 after exploding onto the scene in 2015-16. Last season, though, he rebounded in grand fashion.

The 25-year-old finished fourth in the NHL among defensemen in points with 65. He led all defensemen in power-play points (33) and was tied for the league lead with seven power-play goals.

His offensive production returned — actually increased substantially — to his rookie season level, when he scored at a 0.72 points per game clip in 2015-16. Last season that number was 0.83.

But Gostisbehre's defensive game began to round into place. He credited that to "a little more snot," but the player we saw in his own end was far better than what we've seen before.

We can chalk some of that up to Dave Hakstol putting Gostisbehere with Provorov in late December. The pair became dynamic because, at any moment, either could jump up in the offensive zone and create, but Provorov was the pair's anchor.

“He’s a 1,000 of years better than me defensively,” Gostisbehere said in April. “We use that to our advantage and it really showed as a pair. Provy’s very good defensively, but offensively, he took another step.

"He’s probably one of the best, if not the best two-way defenseman in the NHL.”

Provorov did not totally get snubbed by the NHL Network. Daneyko had Provorov on the bubble and if we return to this list after the 2018-19 season, it's safe to say Provorov will likely, at least, make the leap.

"For such a young age, poise, good in all three zones and only getting better," Daneyko said of Provorov. "He moves the puck and has good offensive instinct. He's going to be a real good player for a long time."

Provorov, 21, was tied for the league lead among defensemen with 17 goals in his second NHL campaign but didn't post ludicrous overall numbers — just 41 points and not many on the power play.

But Provorov played the tough, shutdown minutes (see story). He led the team in ice time with 24:09 per game, more than 2 1/2 minutes more than Sean Couturier's 21:35 and 2 minutes and 42 seconds more than Gostisbehere.

We're splitting hairs here, really. Lists are lists and a good list often creates debate. Does it matter that Gostisbehere, not Provorov, made the NHL Network's top 20 defensemen list? Not really, but it's still a neat honor.

If anything, it's another testament that the Flyers are doing things right even if the process at the rink is slower than fans would like.

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Flyers featured heavily on NBC national broadcast schedule

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Flyers featured heavily on NBC national broadcast schedule

NBC Sports on Monday revealed its 2018-19 national broadcast schedule and the Flyers, per usual, are heavily featured.

The Flyers will have 17 games aired on either NBC or NBCSN in 2018-19. It's important to note, though, that some of the NBCSN games will be blacked out locally and air on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

The local TV broadcast schedule typically comes out in early September. The full 2018-19 schedule was released in June (see Flyers highlights here).

Still, the Flyers will be featured in six major national TV games — four on NBC and two on NBCSN's "Wednesday Night Hockey" games.

Wednesday Night Hockey

Both of the Flyers' "Wednesday Night Hockey" games will be home games.

Jan. 16, 2019: The Flyers will host the Boston Bruins for their first appearance on the NBCSN's signature hockey night.

March 6, 2019: The defending Stanley Cup champions Washington Capitals come to Philly for a tilt against the Flyers.

NHL on NBC

The Flyers will be on NBC four times, including the 2019 NHL Stadium Series showdown with the Pittsburgh Penguins at Lincoln Financial Field.

Nov. 23, 2018, 1 p.m.: The Flyers host the New York Rangers on Black Friday — it will be the first of 13 NHL games aired on NBC in 2018-19.

Feb. 23, 2019, 8 p.m.: Yep, Flyers-Pens are going back outside. This time, at the Linc. It'll be on NBC in primetime.

March 24, 2019, 12:30 p.m.: The Flyers will face the Capitals in Washington.

March 31, 2019, 12:30 p.m.: Back-to-back Sundays the Flyers will be on NBC. This time, they're playing the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

Flyers' full national TV schedule

Oct. 4, 2018, 10 p.m.: Flyers at Golden Knights (NBCSN)

Oct. 9, 2018, 7:30 p.m.: Flyers vs. Sharks (NBCSN)

Nov. 21, 2018, 7:30 p.m.: Flyers at Sabres (NBCSN)

• Nov. 23, 2018, 1 p.m.: Flyers vs. Rangers (NBC)

Dec. 27, 2018, 7:30 p.m.: Flyers at Lightning (NBCSN)

Jan. 8, 2019, 7:30 p.m.: Flyers at Capitals (NBCSN)

Jan. 16, 2019, 7:30 p.m.: Flyers vs. Bruins (NBCSN)

Jan. 28, 2019, 7 p.m.: Flyers vs. Jets (NBCSN)

• Jan. 29, 2019, 7:30 p.m.: Flyers at Rangers (NBCSN)

Feb. 11, 2019, 7 p.m.: Flyers vs. Penguins (NBCSN)

Feb. 17, 2019, 6 p.m.: Flyers at Red Wings (NBCSN)

Feb. 23, 2019, 8 p.m.: Flyers vs. Penguins (NBC)

Feb. 26, 2019, 7 p.m.: Flyers vs. Sabres (NBCSN)

March 6, 2019, 7:30 p.m.: Flyers vs. Capitals (NBCSN)

March 17, 2019, 7:30 p.m.: Flyers at Penguins (NBCSN)

March 24, 2019, 12:30 p.m.: Flyers at Capitals (NBC)

March 31, 2019, 12:30 p.m.: Flyers vs. Rangers (NBC)

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Former Flyers in Carolina: Justin Williams talks former teammate, current head coach Rod Brind'Amour

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Former Flyers in Carolina: Justin Williams talks former teammate, current head coach Rod Brind'Amour

Justin Williams and Rod Brind'Amour missed out on being Flyers teammates by one season.

Then they won a Stanley Cup (2006) together and were teammates in Carolina from 2004-09.

Now Williams and Brind'Amour are together again … well, they were reunited last summer, when Williams signed with the Hurricanes and Brind'Amour was an assistant coach.

But this season, it's different. Brind'Amour finally received his opportunity to be an NHL head coach when Carolina hired him as its replacement for Bill Peters on May 8.

Williams was back in the Philadelphia area this weekend, playing in the annual Checking For Charity tournament at Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey.

On Saturday, Williams discussed his relationship with his former teammate and current head coach. Per NHL.com's Adam Kimelman:

"We have a good relationship. We'll continue to have a good relationship. I've talked with Rod quite a bit over the summer. He'll bounce some things off me and maybe I can be his ears (in the locker room) and help out as best I can.

"He's excited for the opportunity. We want to do right by him and we want to do right by the management team that's kept us here and really become a relevant team again."

Let's take a look back at both Brind'Amour's and Williams' departures from the Flyers.

• The Flyers traded Brind'Amour, a fan favorite — certainly one of the reasons why I gravitated toward the sport — to the Hurricanes 12 days into the 1999-2000 season.

In return, the Flyers received Keith Primeau, who also turned into a favorite here. But Brind'Amour became a franchise legend for Carolina. He's now the team's sixth head coach.

Brind'Amour's departure was sort of a sticky situation as it had been rumored for weeks leading up to the actual trade and when it finally happened, No. 17 was devastated.

“Yeah, took a long time to get over it,” Brind’Amour said in summer 2015. “To be honest, it still kinda hurts for me to remember that day. The Flyers meant a lot to me. Everything about the organization and fans, it was a tough place to leave."

There was a storybook ending, though, as the Flyers inducted him into the team's Hall of Fame on Nov. 23, 2015 (see story).

• The Williams trade is often remembered as one of the worst in franchise history, and understandably so. On Jan. 20, 2004, the Flyers traded Williams to the Hurricanes for defenseman Danny Markov.

Some context. The Flyers were deep up front and desperately needed defensive help, so they traded for Markov and acquired Vladimir Malakhov from the Rangers.

The Flyers' playoff run in 2004 ended in heartbreak, falling to the Lightning in seven games. That team was loaded and probably would have won the Stanley Cup had it beat the Bolts.

Markov was a useful player for the Flyers during their run, eating meaningful minutes. But the trade ended up being a major loss for the Flyers.

Williams went on to score 30-plus goals twice, hit the 20-goal mark six times and win three Stanley Cups — one with the Hurricanes and two with the Kings.

He also established himself as Mr. Game 7. He's played in eight career Game 7s and won seven, but more impressively, he holds the NHL record for most points in Game 7s with 14 and is tied with Glenn Anderson for the most Game 7 goals — seven.

Carolina has not made the playoffs since 2008-09 and Williams expressed interest both last summer and Saturday in helping the Hurricanes return to respectability.

The Hurricanes are in the midst of major changes, but they should interest Flyers fans as a divisional opponent with two big connections to the team.

But for the Flyers, the Hurricanes have not given them trouble much trouble of late.

Since the 'Canes were realigned to the Metropolitan Division in 2013-14, the Flyers have gone 10-8-3 — really, 10-11 but hockey rewards overtime losers — against them but have dominated them in recent years. In the past three seasons, the Flyers have gone 9-3-0 against Carolina.

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