PHILADELPHIA – Shayne Gostisbehere had been playing much better since a three-game benching back in November, so the Flyers were understandably upset with the news about a new injury to the defenseman.
Gostisbehere missed Wednesday night’s game against the Washington Capitals due to a knee injury which would require an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). Results were pending.
In a pre-game press briefing, Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said he wasn’t sure of the severity of the injury but had hopes it wouldn’t keep him out of action too long.
Meanwhile, the Flyers called up journeyman defenseman Mark Friedman to fill in for Gostisbehere.
Friedman, a right-handed shooting backliner, was paired with Robert Hagg for the Caps game.
The 24-year-old Toronto native, a third-round draft pick in 2014, made his NHL debut with the Flyers last season but played in only one game.
This season, he enjoyed a strong training camp before going to the Phantoms. In 28 games, he has registered two goals and 10 points with a plus-3.
“Ghost will be evaluated by our doctors tonight,’’ Vigneault said. “We’ll have a better idea after he sees our doctors.’’
In 40 games, Gostisbehere has totaled five goals and 12 points with a minus-2.
Vigneault said Gostisbehere suffered the injury near the end of Tuesday night’s 5-4 overtime loss at Carolina.
Clearly, he will be missed if he’s out for any significant time.
“He was way more confident with the puck,’’ Vigneault observed. “He was doing what you want a defenseman of his type to do, which is beat the forecheck, jump up in the play when the opportunity was there. He was playing good hockey for us.’’
As for Friedman, Vigneault got a good scouting report from Phantoms coach Scott Gordon.
“He’s been playing well,’’ Vigneault said. “He’s been their best defenseman. He’s playing second power play, very dependable. In camp, he was good with his gap and confident with the puck.’’
Friedman said he was more nervous for this game than he was last year when he made his NHL debut.
“I think they (the nerves) were a little higher today,’’ Friedman said. “We’re playing the Washington Capitals. It was fun, I was really excited. I’m still kind of in shock and very, very thankful.’’
>Road woes continue
The Flyers entered the Caps game fresh off a disappointing 1-4-1 road trip which saw them slip precariously close to the edge of a playoff position.
“No doubt it wasn’t the road trip we intended going out,’’ Vigneault said. “But it is what it is. We didn’t play well as a team. But we are playing well at home.’’
What gives with the 9-13-2 road record?
“Again, I believe this team can play well on the road,’’ Vigneault said. “Our execution has not been what it needs to be on the road.
“The good thing is we played last night (the Flyers rallied from a 4-2 deficit to salvage a point) and we were able to play, in my estimation, a little bit better than we had, other than the Anaheim game (a 2-1 OT win).’’
Vigneault wasn’t blaming this latest road debacle on the schedule.
“I thought it was perfect,’’ he said. “Go out, play six games – maybe not crazy about the five (games) in eight (days) – but I like long trips. You play five, six games and you’re in hockey mode.
“I don’t like the results. It’s something this group needs to learn. Consistency from all our group, from the young guys to the veterans. . .that’s how we’re going to get success.’’
Vigneault won’t be lobbying to get things changed in the future, either.
“I believe it’s a good idea to go on the road, play five or six games and get those road games out of the way. All you have to do is focus on hockey; for different reasons we weren’t as good as I thought we would be.’’
>Penalty kill needs work
One of the problems on the road trip was the penalty kill, which was rocky throughout, including a three-goals-on-three-attempts disaster in Los Angeles.
“The PK had been a real staple of this team,’’ Vigneault said. “As far as everybody being on the same page and getting the saves we need. . .a big part of penalty killing is getting saves at the right time.
“After a real challenging time – I think we gave up four goals on four attempts at one point there – we’ve been better lately.’’