PHILADELPHIA – With a 7-2-1 record over their last 10 games, the Flyers clearly demonstrated they could win without the services of defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere.
Now they see if they can maintain that positive chemistry with “Ghost’’ back in the lineup.
The first test was scheduled for Thursday night’s home game against the New Jersey Devils.
Gostisbehere had been sidelined for those 10 matches due to arthroscopic knee surgery. He had been playing some of his best hockey of the season prior to the injury.
To get Gostisbehere back in the lineup, Vigneault had to sit someone and Robert Hagg drew the short straw.
“There’s no doubt ‘Hags’ has been playing some real good hockey for us,’’ Vigneault said after Thursday morning’s skate at the Wells Fargo Center. “But I thought this was the right time to put Ghost back in.
“There’s good internal competition. I say seven (defensemen), but sometimes you could use as many as eight, maybe nine, that can play at the NHL pace, level. You never have enough D. Sometimes even though a guy is playing well, you have to look at the big picture. I’m looking at the big picture and this is a good game to put Shayne back in.’’
Vigneault was asked if he possibly considered a seven-D, 11-forward alignment but he shook his head.
“We have five games in eight days,’’ he said. “We have a lot of hockey. I want to be able to roll four lines and six ‘D’s.’’
Gostisbehere, who was paired with veteran Justin Braun again, hopes he can pick up where he left off.
In 18 games since a late November benching, he was a plus-3, which indicates he’s playing responsible hockey at both ends of the rink.
“I’m not going to go out there and try to do too much,’’ said Gostisbehere. “I’m going to play my game, do what I’m good at and hopefully it goes well.’’
Gostisbehere needs one point to reach the 200-point milestone in the NHL.
Hagg has been down this road before. It’s been a battle to stay in the top six. He’s been playing well and probably doesn’t deserve to sit out.
His plus-6 is one of only two black numbers on the Flyers’ defensemen stat sheet. Phil Myers’ plus-16 is the other.
“Well, of course it stinks,’’ Hagg said. “You want to play. So I mean it’s nothing I can control. All I can do is play as good as I can.’’
>Farabee out, Andreoff called up
Joel Farabee came down with the flu on Wednesday and missed practice. He was still not good enough to go for the Devils game so Andy Andreoff was called up from the Phantoms to take his spot.
>Patrick practices again
Nolan Patrick, sidelined this season with a chronic migraine headache condition, took part in practice for a second straight day.
Vigneault kind of put a damper on talk of a comeback.
“My expectations are that Nolan is not coming back,’’ Vigneault said. “In my mind, he hasn’t been here since the beginning of the year and I’m moving forward that way.
“I work with the guys that are here. If something changes, someone will let me know.’’