It may be slightly premature to say this now, but it looks like the Philadelphia Flyers have found a budding star in defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere. Since being called up from the Flyers minor league affiliate Lehigh Valley Phantoms due to a Mark Streit injury a mere 7 weeks ago, 21-year old Gostisbehere, or “Ghost” has been quickly making a name for himself at the professional level.
Only 15 games into his NHL career, Ghost has already scored 6 goals; 3 of which coming as overtime winners. Per the Elias Sports Bureau, Ghost is the first rookie to have three OT goals in a season since 2007-08, when Andrew Cogliano did it over the course of appearing in all 82 games for Edmonton. Prior to him, it was Sidney Crosby last accomplishing the feat over the course of 81 games in 2005-06. That’s one way to make a name for yourself.
Ghost’s teammates clearly are appreciating his efforts over the past couple of weeks. Brayden Schenn, who scored his 7th goal of the season (assisted by Ghost), had this to say about the immediate impact the young defenseman has had during his short time with the Flyers:
“He’s been huge right from the beginning,” Schenn said. “Obviously, he’s made an impact. He is scoring a lot of clutch goals for us. He’s good on the power play, through 15 games it’s pretty impressive what he’s done so far.”
Another goal scorer on the night, Jake Voracek was also quick to praise Ghost on his value to the team during overtime games:
“Yeah, 3 on 3 is built for him,” Voracek said. “He’s a great skater, with a great shot. He’s smart as well, so he knows when to jump in and what to do with the puck when he has it so that’s why he is where he is right now and that’s why he’s scoring those goals because he’s a [heck] of a player.”
The man of the hour himself was smothered in the locker room and gave his take on the impact he’s had and why his team is having more success as of late:
“Anyway you can contribute to the team,” Ghost said. “It can be a big hit, or a fight sticking up for your teammate. It’s always a good thing if you can do anything to stick up for the team.”
Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds must be rubbing off on Ghost as Simmonds got into a fight with Carolina’s Brad Malone for a trip on Michael Raffl. Simmonds immediately went after Malone and was given a 2-minute instigating penalty, 5-minute major for fighting, as well as a 10-minute misconduct for fighting. Although Simmonds served the better part of one period in the penalty box, his loyalty to his teammates didn’t go unnoticed.
Carolina left winger Jeff Skinner recorded all of the Hurricane’s goals en route to a hat trick, but his efforts weren’t enough tonight.
Flyers backup goalie Michal Neuvirth played well enough to get the win stopping 29 of 32 shots on goal.
The Flyers have already played Carolina three times this season. Each of those games have gone into overtime and Philadelphia has won all three.
Although the Flyers came out with the victory, sloppy play attributed to an extra overtime session instead winning outright in regulation. However, Philadelphia’s 4-goal production was the 7th time in the last 9 games that the team has scored at least 3 goals. It’s always good to score a high number of goals to overshadow poor play in other areas, but the team will need to fix the holes in its game since relying on high outputs of goals night after night isn’t a recipe for success in the NHL. Flyers coach Dave Hakstol was pleased with the win but realizes there is still a lot of work to be done:
“I don’t think tonight was our best,” said Hakstol. “I think we have a lot of things that we will address as a group and try to clean up. But the positive side of that is that we found a way to win the hockey game so that just all comes back to everybody being on the same page and working hard together. So I give a real credit to the group in the room, they’re doing that.”
Hakstol also was hesitant to praise Ghost too highly just yet as the rookie still has a long time to develop despite his hot start:
“He’s been effective in the OT’s, no question and had an impact,” Hakstol said of Ghost. “Our team has been pretty good in the three-on-three OT of late, but you know on a night like tonight, Ghost in a lot of areas didn’t have his best night and I think he recognized that and tried to keep things simple and then he had a chance to make an impact with the game-winning goal and he made no mistake on a [great] play by Jake [Voracek].”
Ghost’s presence has greatly been felt by the Flyers as the team is thriving off the young defenseman’s energy and spark into its lineup. After a rough start to its season, the Flyers have now gone 7-3-1 since November 23rd while 5 of those games went to either overtime or shootout. Still sitting in 6th place in the Metropolitan division, the Flyers still have a long way to go to proclaim relevance once again, but it’s good to see young talent coming up through the system and making an impact right away. The future looks bright for the Ghost in the Halloween colored sweater.