On March 2, five Philadelphia Flyers were named to three different World Cup preliminary rosters. Jake Voracek, Radko Gudas and Michal Neuvirth made Team Czech Republic, Sean Couturier was chosen for the 23-and-under Team North America and Mark Streit joined the upstart Team Europe.
Two of the biggest Flyers’ names left off the lists were Canada’s Claude Giroux and Shayne Gostisbehere who was, and still is, a Team North America hopeful. Of course, it’s important to note that those were only preliminary rosters and teams have to name seven more players in June so those hopes aren’t dead yet.
Giroux stood more of an outside chance despite being the Flyers’ best player. The center was also left off Canada’s roster for the 2014 Winter Olympics and has the curse, and gift, of coming from the deepest hockey country in the world.
But Giroux has also suited up for his home country at the 2013 and ’15 World Championships and probably should have been given some loyalty reward. Plus most fans figure Giroux is on par with John Tavares, who was named.
Gostisbehere burst onto the NHL scene this season, and while he may not have the same resume as Giroux, his World Cup defense field is much shallower than Canada’s offensive one. Instead of the Flyers’ rookie,
arguably safer, veteran choices were made in Seth Jones and Ryan Murray.
The Florida native hasn’t gone through development struggles as much as the previous two in a shorter NHL career which raised some questions, but he still stands a great shot at being apart of the next roster selections.
While those were minor setbacks for Giroux and Gostisbehere, it’s paid off hugely for the Flyers, who have fought back into a playoff spot behind the center and defenseman.
The Snubs’ Production
When Giroux was omitted from Team Canada’s Olympic roster in 2014, the center went off and led the team to a surprising playoff berth with 86 points that season. Flyers fans are seeing almost the same thing this year.
Giroux only has four points in six games, but he’s continuing his dominance in the faceoff circle and still is the defensive leader among the forwards. His game against the Tampa Bay Lightning last Monday was one of his best this season, despite only producing an assist. He’s also done that without usual linemate Voracek, but has found chemistry with Brayden Schenn.
While Giroux has kept a steady pace, Gostisbehere has skyrocketed with two goals against Tampa Bay last Monday, sent the game to overtime against the Panthers on Saturday and added the eventual game-winner against the Red Wings last night in the Flyers’ most important games of the season. In total, the defenseman has four points (all goals) in six games since the preliminary rosters were released.
The Other End
Some of the five Flyers that did have the good fortune of being named to the World Cup haven’t had the opportunity to continue their play since the rosters were released.
Voracek suffered a “lower-body” injury two days before the rosters were named and hasn’t played since, though he should be back soon. Neuvirth let up four goals to the Edmonton Oilers the day after his selection and hasn’t played since, while also dealing with the flu.
But luckily for the Flyers they’ve still had sustained play from Gudas, Couturier and Streit. That, coupled with the almost revengeful play from Giroux and Gostisbehere has the team fighting for a playoff spot and forgetting any snubs that may have been handed out in the beginning of March.