The Flyers Week in Review for November 16. Your source for all things Orange and Black.
Philadelphia Flyers 2015-16 season:
Games – 17/Wins – 6/Losses – 8/OT Losses – 3/Points – 15
After an ugly 1-3-1 road swing through Western Canada there were still at least a few optimists who held out hope that coming home would help the Flyers get back on track. Those hopes were quickly dashed however on Tuesday when the lowly Colorado Avalanche came into town and proceeded to shut out the Flyers 4-0. This was then followed by a very lackluster 5-2 loss to the Washington Capitals on Thursday. Only a 3-2 overtime win on Saturday night against the Carolina Hurricanes helped to salvage what was otherwise just one more frustrating week in what is proving to be a very frustrating season.
With the Flyers playing as poorly as they have over the past month there are any number of negatives we could point to. However, the most glaring problem continues to be the low number of shots and the lack of good scoring chances the team is generating. Once again this past week the Flyers were out-shot by a large margin – 93-64. Even worse, they gave up way more excellent scoring chances then they generated. One example – in the first forty minutes against the Capitals, the Flyers were only able to come up with a measly two high-danger scoring chances. In that same time period Washington generated no less than seventeen high-danger chances. If not for solid goaltending from Michal Neuvirth and Steve Mason, this gloomy season could be a total disaster.
The Flyers started out with a strong effort against the Hurricanes on Saturday, but still found themselves trailing 2-0 halfway through the second period. This had all the makings of just one more frustrating performance against a sub-par opponent. Sean Couturier scored at 12:02 of the second period, but the Flyers still trailed. It was not until late in the third period that some something very special took place at the hands of rookie defenseman Shayne “Ghost” Gostisbehere.
Gostisbehere, (playing in only his third NHL game) had just been called up due to an injury to Mark Streit. He played very well throughout the game, growing more confident and relaxed with each ensuing shift. But it was with just over three minutes left in the game that he made a truly remarkable play – one that no other current Flyers defenseman would even be capable of. Gostisbehere received a pass at the offensive zone blue line from Brandon Manning, nimbly juked around Carolina’s Chris Terry, and fired a blast that Wayne Simmonds banked into the net to tie the game. During the stoppage of play after the goal it was rumored that Terry was looking all around the ice near the blue line hoping to find his jock.
After the game, Gostisbehere commented with typical hockey player understatement:
“The coaches told me it’s your time to do what you do. I took my chance there. I’m glad it worked out.”
And if all that isn’t encouraging enough, there was more good news! Jakub Voracek won the game in overtime with his first goal of the year. (Before the season began, what would the odds have been that Voracek would not score his first goal until November 14, eighteen games in?)
With the notable exception of Scott Laughton, GM Ron Hextall had not brought up any of the promising young talent in the Flyer’s farm system until Gostisbehere and Taylor Leier appeared on Saturday. This is due, in part, to some pretty severe salary cap restraints. But it is also very much in keeping with Hextall’s philosophy of not rushing any of the young talent.
I would contend that it is time to rethink that philosophy, at least to some degree. The Flyers are a team going nowhere fast this season. Why not allow at least a few young players to gain some valuable NHL experience with the big club?
Case in point: Shayne Gostisbehere would not even be here if not for injuries on the big club – but he should be here. And even more importantly, he should not sent down if or when the team’s injury issues are resolved. I know it was only one game, but clearly this kid brings a high level of energy and talent to the Flyers – the two things this team is lacking the most.
Yes, his nickname may be “Ghost”- but on this past Saturday he was anything but invisible. Let’s just hope he won’t be disappearing any time soon.