Photo by Amy Irvin/38 Photography
Welcome to the Flyers report card, where we will evaluate the studs and duds at the end of each week. A week that started remarkably poorly for the Flyers ended with some reasons to be excited moving forward. Let’s take a look:
SHAYNE GOSTISBEHERE – E (Eggplant Emoji): With Mark Streit on the shelf for several weeks after a pubic plate detachment, Shayne Gostisbehere got the call-up late on Friday night. He immediately made his presence felt in Carolina.
Gostisbehere was the Flyers’ most dynamic offensive player on Saturday night, controlling possession throughout the night and eventually helping to generate the tying goal with just over three minutes left.
The 22 year old’s transition will not be smooth sailing all the way. He still has a lot of work to do on his defensive zone play. But honestly, who gives a shit? The offensive ability that Ghost possesses is something that no other Flyers defenseman can come even close to replicating. The defensive mistakes are going to come, but Ghost will be a net positive and he’ll give us a reason to watch a group of defensemen that has been anything but fun to watch so far.
SEAN COUTURIER – A
I feel like I said a lot of these things last week, but here we go anyway: Sean Couturier was the Flyers’ best forward this week. The line of Couturier, Matt Read and Wayne Simmonds was the only line that truly put three good games together against Colorado, Washington and Carolina. By Saturday night, Dave Hakstol had picked up on this too, awarding Couturier and Read with more ice time than any other Flyers’ forwards by over two minutes.
In the absence of Craig Berube, Couturier has seen a much more reasonable workload this season, and his possession statistics reflect that. The 22 year old has taken advantage of slightly easier minutes by posting career high Corsi For/60 and Corsi For % rates early on.
Data from Puckalytics.com
I’m not worried that Couturier is sitting with just 3 points so far after 11 games. He’s spending much more time in the offensive zone, and if he can sustain his current level of play it will start showing up on the scoreboard eventually.
RON HEXTALL – A: Ron Hextall gets an ‘A’ for the decision to call up Shayne Gostisbehere and Taylor Leier on Saturday morning. With his Flyers coming off of two absolutely abysmal efforts on Tuesday and Thursday, Hextall found out that he would need a defensive call-up to replace the injured Mark Streit for roughly 6 weeks.
The safe play here would have been to call up Andrew MacDonald. The cap relief provided by Streit’s move to the LTIR would have allowed it, and the alternative was a defenseman who Hextall did not feel was ready for NHL play just 6 weeks ago.
So Ron Hextall really deserves credit for recognizing that the Flyers needed anything but the ‘safe’ play right now. Gostisbehere provides an offensive boost to a team that has been struggling mightily to put the puck in the net. And can you imagine taking this already-brutal defensive unit and replacing it’s best member with Andrew MacDonald? Good lord.
EVERYBODY ELSE – F:
Alright, so F is a bit of an overstatement. Not everybody else was that bad this week. Jakub Voracek finally scored his first of the season and his first line comrades were generally decent too. Aside from that, there wasn’t too much to be excited about this week. The effort against Colorado was just an astoundingly bad display of hockey against a very mild competitor. The game against the Capitals was slightly better but still left a lot to be desired. The Flyers looked much better as last night’s game went on, but they still went almost 30 (!) minutes without a shot on goal against the Hurricanes. We’re starting to see a bit more accurate picture of what this team is, and it isn’t pretty.