Shayne Gostisbehere Quickly Becoming Fan Favorite

The Philadelphia Flyers are not having a good season by any definition of the word. Their recent 4-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets was some of the worst hockey I’ve ever seen. They were clumsy, disconnected and seemingly nothing would go right for a team that was on a four game winning streak. However, every game is a story and there is always some positive you can find if you look hard enough.

For the Flyers that has to be the outstanding play of defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere. The 22-year old rookie has taken Philadelphia by storm, despite only playing in 11 games this season. But did I mention he has eight points (four goals and four assists) in those 11 games?

Evaluating Gostisbehere’s Strengths

At this point, he’s considered a “power play specialist” but the more he plays, the better his overall game has become. Of those eight points, only three of them have came at even strength, with the other three goals and two assists coming on the power play.

Just look at this breakout, and it’s not even on the power play.

Gostisbehere’s regular metrics are great for such a young defender and his advanced analytics are even better. At even strength Gostisbehere has a corsi for of 53.71%, which is the highest of any Flyers defender. While on the power play, his corsi for is 82.5%, which isn’t even close to being the highest among defenders, but his production is the highest in that group.

Did I mention he’s fantastic with the puck on the point?

Watching Gostisbehere dance with the puck is a blast to watch. He’s got quick feet, a great first step and he hasn’t been the defensive liability that many thought he would be early in his career.

Take a look for yourself.

There’s always concern when a rookie starts playing this well, especially when they were called up as an injury replacement, but Gostisbehere isn’t going anywhere. How do the Flyers deal with the rookie sensation when defender Mark Streit returns from injury?

I’ll make this explicitly clear, Gostisbehere will remain with the Flyers and another defender will be traded or become a healthy scratch. Head coach Dave Hakstol loves what “Ghost” brings to the ice and he wants to see him out there more often. There’s a misconception that because the Flyers season might not end with the playoffs that the team should tank for a draft pick.

However, fans won’t pay to come see a team they know will lose every game. In a catastrophically bad season for all of Philadelphia sports, the Flyers are the “bright spot” and Gostisbehere is a huge part of that.

He’s also an incredibly smart hockey player who’s currently acting as a sponge learning all he can. Here’s what Gostisbehere had to say about his development.

Your first year of college you get sheltered minutes. I was a sixth defenseman and just 18, a true freshman. Here, I’ve been given a lot of opportunity, more than in college. A little surprised, yeah. But you seize the moment and take advantage of the opportunity you have. Any way I can help this team, that’s what I want to do.

It’s not just his overall attitude for playing that’s impressive, but his situational awareness. Often times rookie offensive defenders focus on transitioning their offensive game to the NHL before working on their defensive play, but not Gostisbehere.

We’re all different players out there. If I’m with defensive forwards, I realize that I’m with defensive forwards and sometimes the plays won’t happen. When you are out there with Jake or G, some things can happen. You are on your toes more and expect passes when they happen. I take everything in stride.

Gostisbehere has already won over Flyers fans, as he’s been one of the bright spots on a wildly inconsistent team. On December 1st, the NHL opened up voting for their annual All-Star game and fans didn’t waste much time. Gostisbehere was not even ranked in voting at the beginning, but after six days, he’s risen to 40th in voting. The only Flyer ahead of “Ghost” in voting is captain Claude Giroux who’s 13 positions ahead of him.

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