Shayne Gostisbehere made a splash on defense for the Flyers when joined the big club back in November.
Arguably, the best one was his most recent on Tuesday night, against Carolina. The 22-year-old made an outstanding defensive play in his own zone to spring Jakub Voracek and proceeded to turn on the jets even though he was at the end of a shift. That capped off a beautiful sequence to give the Flyers a much-needed win and the Ghost even more of a reason to gain confidence.
Not only did that goal leave him tied for first in-game winners among rookies the season, it also left him with some pretty impressive accomplishments early in his NHL career.
Per EliasSports: Gostisbehere (17 GP) of the Flyers is fastest in NHL history (in terms of GP) to score 3 OT goals.
— The Brotherly Bullies (@BrotherlyBully) December 16, 2015
Shayne Gostisbehere is the first rookie defenseman in NHL history to score three OT goals in a season.
— Flyers Nation (@FlyersNation) December 16, 2015
Mind you, he has only played in 15 games this season.
All of this leads into the huge crossroads the Flyers are about to encounter, and they couldn’t go any further apart.
In case you forgot, Gostisbehere was originally promoted because Mark Streit was placed on injured reserve. At the time, almost no one could have foreseen that he was going to dramatically change the dynamic of the breakout, the power play, and even the overtime landscape in Philadelphia.
This breakout from Shayne Gostisbehere is remarkable. pic.twitter.com/KUSD2SZamT
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) December 11, 2015
Shayne Gostisbehere spin-o-rama breakout pic.twitter.com/50THEv4MMD
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) December 12, 2015
Those are just two of the many examples of how Gostisbehere brings something that the Flyers have seen in a very long time. The team has been plagued by the breakout the last few seasons, and it was even evident this season early on. The Flyers had a below average corsi-percentage, and they weren’t getting shots or sustained offensive pressure.
Since Gostisbehere came up, a lot of that has changed. The Flyers have climbed all the way back up to 9th in shots per game and although still 29th in goals per game, it has gone from 1.72 to 2.10 in the span of about a month. A huge improvement.
So where does the problem lie?
The Flyers have two injured defensemen right now in Mark Streit and Luke Schenn. The burning question is where they will fit in. The team already has a $5-million dollar player skating in Lehigh Valley eating up cap space. Streit isn’t going to be scratched and Luke Schenn has had a decent season. That leaves two Flyer defensemen to go when they come back.
One would think that if Gostisbehere were to be sent back to the minors at this point, his confidence would be devastated. Remember, this is a guy who had a career threatening injury in the minors last season. He’s more than thrived so far in the NHL and is making the players around him better, and it’s reflected in the stats.
Just as a quick sample, nearly every Flyer has a higher Corsi-For on ice with Gostisbehere then without him. Most notably Brayden Schenn’s goes from 46.5% to 54.7%, Matt Read’s goes from 52% to 64.7%, Sean Couturier’s from 52.8% to 65.2%, and Wayne Simmonds’ from 50.5% to 72.6% Astounding numbers when you think about it and it is a direct correlation to what I mentioned above with the breakout and taking the puck up ice.
The Flyers will have some tough decisions to make when the team gets healthy again, but Gostisbehere should be here to stay.
Matt is a contributor for the Philadelphia Flyers at The Hockey Writers. He has previously covered the Flyers for GrandstandU. He enjoys playing hockey and making music in his spare time.