Shayne Gostisbehere

Plenty of leftovers as Flyers eat up vs. Red Wings on Black Friday

Plenty of leftovers as Flyers eat up vs. Red Wings on Black Friday

BOX SCORE

Playing an inferior opponent on Black Friday, the Flyers took care of business at home by beating the Red Wings, 6-1.

The Flyers (14-7-5) started slowly but Carter Hart did not and the team turned it on behind him.

Kevin Hayes, Sean Couturier, Oskar Lindblom, James van Riemsdyk, Shayne Gostisbehere and Scott Laughton all scored goals for the Flyers, who are 9-2-4 during November, earning at least a point in all but two games (see highlights).

Since Oct. 21, the Flyers are 12-4-4 with 28 points, second most in the NHL over that stretch. There are still games to play Friday across the NHL, but impressive nonetheless.

With the victory, the Flyers are 8-1-4 at home and will finish the first two months of the season with only one regulation loss at the Wells Fargo Center. The last time the Flyers pulled that off was the 2003-04 season, before the days of the shootout when games could end in a tie.

The NHL-worst Red Wings (7-18-3) have lost eight straight games.

 • Steady veteran defenseman Matt Niskanen, who has been integral to the Flyers’ improvements, had a Dylan Larkin shot deflect off his face 7:23 into the game, drawing a good bit of blood.

Fortunately for the Flyers, Niskanen returned at the start of the second period with some new gear.

Tough dude.

• Niskanen, with the cage, lifted a sharp pass to Couturier for an important goal in the second period, giving the Flyers a 3-1 lead right before intermission.

Jakub Voracek pointed at Niskanen as the Flyers celebrated.

The accomplished 32-year-old finished with two assists and has been a massive acquisition by general manager Chuck Fletcher (see story).

Niskanen and Ivan Provorov were a combined plus-7.

• Gostisbehere returned to the lineup following three healthy scratches and exhibited the offensive skill head coach Alain Vigneault has wanted to see from the 26-year-old defenseman.

On a first-period man advantage, Gostisbehere made a strong play to spin and fling the puck back toward the net, which found its way past Detroit goalie Calvin Pickard.

The marker was his second goal and seventh point on the season. He was solid and the Flyers suddenly have internal competition on the blue line.

“It’s refreshing to get back into the lineup with a nothing-to-lose mentality,” Gostisbehere said at first intermission, via Flyers public relations. “Just go out there and be the player that I know I can be and have fun again. I was putting a little too much pressure on myself and maybe not being the best teammate.”

• Hart was one of the Flyers’ best players Friday — and all of November, as well.

The 21-year-old made highlight-reel saves (32 stops in total) against the Red Wings and was reliable with the Flyers not at their best, especially early in the game.

During the month, Hart is 6-2-2 with a 1.95 goals-against average and has allowed two or fewer goals in eight of 10 starts.

Pickard, who played 11 games for the Flyers last season, converted 29 saves in his first game with the Red Wings.

• Laughton has been a stud since returning after a 13-game absence because of a broken finger.

The valuable depth piece scored the game’s opening goal and slung a nice pass to Hayes for a tally to begin the third period, when the Flyers took over.

• Travis Konecny appeared to be hampered by some sort of ailment as he labored throughout the game. He played from start to finish but didn’t have his usual speed.

He recorded a season-low 13:39 ice time. Something to watch moving forward.

• Jakub Voracek had three assists, while Couturier had another multi-point game with a goal and an assist. The do-it-all center has 15 points (six goals, nine assists) and a plus-10 rating in his last 16 games.

• The Flyers' penalty kill is 53 for 59 (89.8 percent) since Oct. 21, best in the NHL over that span.

• The Flyers wrap up November on Saturday when they visit the Canadiens (3 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

 

Hitting the road this week, or wasting away on the couch in a food coma? The perfect time to binge your favorite NBC Sports Philadelphia podcast! Click here for more.

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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.

 

Hitting the road this week, or wasting away on the couch in a food coma? The perfect time to binge your favorite NBC Sports Philadelphia podcast! Click here for more.

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Flyers' Shayne Gostisbehere trying to remember players like him 'don't grow on trees'

Flyers' Shayne Gostisbehere trying to remember players like him 'don't grow on trees'

Shayne Gostisbehere wasn’t hiding from anything Monday morning at the Wells Fargo Center.

He was honest. 

He needs to believe in himself again and remember that he can be a dynamic difference-maker from the blue line. 

Gostisbehere, an offensive-minded defenseman at his best when he’s eluding the forecheck and spearheading the Flyers’ attack up ice, has struggled to show those strengths, dating back to last season. He has now lost his role on the first-unit power play and will be a healthy scratch for the second straight game Monday night.

“Mentally, when you’re playing with a lot of crap in your mind and you’ve got a lot of confidence issues, it’s harder to make those plays and adapt,” Gostisbehere said after the Flyers’ morning skate. “I’ve just got to reflect on myself and how I’ve just got to realize how good of a player I am and that players like me don’t grow on trees. For myself, I’ve just got to get back to that game.”

Head coach Alain Vigneault wants to see more of the player that he can’t just pick off a tree and place in his lineup. 

Obviously meetings between players and coaches are confidential, but I did tell him that we expect more as far as beating the forecheck, getting up in the attack, on the power play. He’s aware of that.

I like Ghost, I like what he can bring to our team. I am expecting a little bit more as far as offensive contribution, but he’s a good young man, he works hard — it’s just a little reset for him. We’re playing four games in five and a half days, so there’s no doubt that he’s going to be in our lineup real soon.

Everyone loves to bring up Gostisbehere’s 2017-18 season because it wasn’t that long ago and it’s when he scored the fourth-most points among NHL defensemen with 65. No NHL blueliner had more power play points that year than Gostisbehere’s 33 (seven goals, 26 assists) and the Flyers made the playoffs.

Through 22 games this season, the 26-year-old has six points (one goal, five assists), is fourth among Flyers defensemen with 37 shots and owns a shooting percentage of 2.7. On the power play, he has four assists and no goals.

“I’ve never battled this much playing before,” Gostisbehere said. “For myself, I’ve got to figure some things out mentally and really find that way to be a good teammate, as well. I think that’s a big part — stay positive and get back to it.

“I’ve just got to work on myself and get my game in order. When you get taken out of the lineup, it’s not for no reason.”

Gostisbehere plays a style well-suited for Vigneault’s system, which encourages defensemen to push the pace and help pin the opposition in the offensive zone.

“I’m going to watch the games, put myself in those people’s situations and see what I could have done there,” Gostisbehere said. “Pick up on little things that I can change to make myself better.

“You learn something every time you watch hockey.”

When he’s playing, believing in his game will be just as important as watching.

 

Hitting the road this week, or wasting away on the couch in a food coma? The perfect time to binge your favorite NBC Sports Philadelphia podcast! Click here for more.

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