Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere has bounced back after starting the season on the COVID-19 protocol list.
I don’t know how but I believe to have time-traveled back to early 2018. The Flyers are not that great on defense, but still on pace to make the playoffs thanks to a Hart Trophy candidate, Selke hopeful Sean Couturier, and a young offensive-minded defenseman named Shayne Gostisbehere who is looking like the future of the Flyers Blue Line.
Surprise! What I just described is actually the current 2021 Philadelphia Flyers team with JVR being the Hart Trophy candidate instead of Giroux, but the Shayne Gostisbehere revenge tour is in full effect.
This season has been a bit of a rollercoaster for Gostisbehere. It started off with him not allowed to be near the team as he was put on the NHL’s COVID protocol before the regular season even started. Since he came back he’s been rotated around on the blue line being put with many different partners, seemingly putting Gostisbehere in a position to fail again.
That has not been the case. In Gostisbehre’s return from COVID, and coming off of a season of career lows, he has bounced back in a fantastic way. In the 17 games Gostisbehere has played in this season, he has put up 6 points, scoring 4 goals and 2 assists, while contributing to the Power Play (albeit a struggling one) with 2 power-play goals.
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Gostisbehere’s defensive zone plays have gotten better compared to his previous seasons as well. He is currently a plus 5 when he is on the ice, meaning that if Gostisbehere didn’t contribute at all offensively this season, he would still be almost a net even player. On a team with this many defensive struggles being close to the net even when taking away points contributed to means one of two things generally.
1) Shayne Gostisbehere is performing at a high level on the defensive side, making sure goals don’t go in against the Flyers when he is on the ice.
2) He is on the ice for offensive zone production even if the Flyers don’t score.
Yes, he still does commit bad turnovers that have led to some breakaways, but that was always the trade-off of having that type of offensively skilled player on the back end.
What is sad is that even though the Flyers are a contender, and Gostisbeehre is finally looking like the player we hoped he would be after his masterful campaign in 2017-2018, he is still most likely on the trading block. Hopefully, Chuck Fletcher and the Flyers see Gostisbehere’s value to the team this season and finally stabilize the blue line with a trade to help Provorov, in which case would finally give Gostisbehere that set partner in Phil Myers.
Overall, seeing Shayne Gostisbehere come back from a terrible 2019-2020 campaign and performing at a high level is wonderful, and hopefully, he can limit his turnovers and limit the minimal defensive breakdowns we have seen from him this season.