PHILADELPHIA – Shayne Gostisbehere has been down this road before, so he doesn’t need a map to find his way out of his current predicament.
In his second season with the Flyers, the talented defenseman was benched on two separate occasions for play below his normal standard.
Heads turned again on Saturday when Gostisbehere was a healthy scratch for the home game against the Calgary Flames.
At the time, head coach Alain Vigneault explained Gostisbehere needed to lift his level of play, namely use his speed to beat opposing teams’ forecheck and knowing when to push the attack in the offensive zone.
Monday morning, Vigneault announced that “Ghost’’ would sit again for the game against the Vancouver Canucks.
“We had one of our better games of the year against Calgary,’’ Vigneault said at the morning skate at the Wells Fargo Center. “There were a low number of scoring chances against, a high number of scoring chances for.
“So I’m going back with the same lineup. I like Ghost. I like what he can bring to our team. I am expecting a little bit more as far as offensive contribution. But he’s a good young man, works hard. . .it’s just a little reset for him.’’
In 22 games, the Pembroke, Fla. native has registered just one goal and five assists for six points and a minus-5.
Vigneault indicated he could have Gostisbehere back in the lineup as early as Wednesday night when the Flyers visit Columbus.
“We’re playing four games in five and a half days,’’ Vigneault noted. “So there’s no doubt he’s going to be in our lineup real soon.’’
Gostisbehere spent an extra 20 minutes going through drills on Monday morning.
He acknowledged he has some things to work on.
“I think mentally when you’re playing with a lot of crap in your mind, you have a lot of confidence issues,’’ he said. “And it’s harder to make those plays.
“I just have to reflect on myself, realize how good of a player I am and that players like me don’t grow on trees. I just have to get back to that game.’’
Some wonder if this is a carryover from last year’s offensive struggles, when he produced only nine goals and 37 points with a minus-20.
That was in contrast to the 2017-18 season, when he was 13-52-65 with a plus-10.
“I think it’s a little different,’’ he said. “I’ve never battled this much playing before. I think for myself, I have to figure some things out mentally and find a way to be a good teammate as well.
“To me, I think that’s a big part of it. Just stay positive and get back to it.’’
How challenging is it to have to sit and watch? Remember, just four years ago (2015-16) he was runnerup for NHL rookie of the year honors.
“For sure, it’s tough,’’ he said. “Any time you’re sitting out it’s definitely tough mentally. Obviously you want to be out there helping your team win. It’s hard but you have to battle through it and come out bigger on the other side.’’
Gostisbehere disclosed he’s had talks with Vigneault.
“I just have to work on myself and get my game in order,’’ Gostisbehere said. “When you get taken out of the lineup, it’s for a reason. I think for me, I just have to get better, work hard and when I get back in hopefully I can turn it around.’’
>Hagg fitting into utility role
Robert Hagg began the season as one of the top six defensemen, then was relegated to spare duty with the return of Phil Myers a few weeks ago.
But Vigneault elected to sit Myers for a game, then dressed seven defensemen for another and now Hagg is filling in while Gostisbehere gets his game back together.
The Swede takes this new role all in stride.
“It isn’t easy but it is what it is,’’ Hagg said. “I mean there is some stuff you can’t control. Of course you want to play every single game. But I played the last two games, so it’s getting better and better.’’
Despite sitting out 10 games, Hagg is still among the team leaders in hits and blocked shots.
Ivan Provorov’s five power-play goals lead all NHL defensemen for the month of November. Also, his nine power-play points (five goals, four assists) for the season lead the Flyers. He has figured in nine of the Flyers’ 17 power-play goals. . .Going into the Vancouver game, the Flyers had allowed only three power-play goals since Nov. 1 and have moved up to sixth in the NHL rankings. . .James van Riemsdyk is scheduled to play in his 700th NHL game when the Flyers play the Blue Jackets on Wednesday.
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