Gostisbehere back from COVID-19 and ready to go; Couturier skating again

Shayne Gostisbehere

Absorbing a board check from a 6-foot-4, 225-pound forward in a corner collision might seem rather traumatic for a defenseman.

But dealing with something really serious like COVID-19 as Shayne Gostisbehere just experienced might prove even more daunting.

The Flyers’ backliner has missed the team’s first six games after contracting the coronavirus earlier this month and was only able to practice for the first time on Monday at the Skate Zone.

The good news is he’s feeling much better now after several negative tests and might even be ready to play when the Flyers visit the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.

Thankfully, Gostisbehere’s case of COVID wasn’t too severe. He has been skating on his own since the middle of last week and says he didn’t lose too much conditioning-wise.

“I feel really good actually,’’ Gostisbehere said after the workout. “I’m thankful it didn’t hit me too hard. Again, you have to take all the precautions.

“I’m just happy I’m feeling good, I’m more happy I didn’t infect other people, it was just myself.’’

As for the Devils game, “Ghost’’ hasn’t ruled it out as a possibility, depending on coach Alain Vigneault’s final decision.

“Yeah, just getting a couple skates in,’’ Gostisbehere said. “Feeling good, hopefully I can be good to go tomorrow.’’

Gostisbehere’s case can serve as a reminder to his teammates that every precaution must be taken. Things were different last summer when the Flyers competed in the playoffs in the controlled environment of the Toronto bubble.

“Obviously we were in our own bubble there,’’ he said. “You felt a little safer, you had a little bit of a safety net. It’s different (now). . .we have to take all precautions. Be safe as a team, keep our season going.’’

Gostisbehere already had been dealing with recovery from a pair of knee surgeries plus nagging trade rumors before the COVID hit. These couple years have been a true test of the 27-year-old Pembroke, Florida native’s character.

“I think for the last couple years I’ve dealt with some adversity,’’ Gostisbehere said. “On and off the ice, with injuries and other (stuff).

“For myself, it (COVID) is just a little more salt in the wound. I was dealing with a little more than just the hockey aspect, dealing with the quarantine and whatnot.’’

Gostisbehere had been paired on the No. 1 unit with Ivan Provorov when the illness hit.

“I had a really good camp and I was going to get a great opportunity,’’ Gostisbehere said. “Hopefully I can pick up where I was and get back in the swing of things.’’

Vigneault didn’t rule out Gostisbehere returning as early as Tuesday.

“I had a chat with him prior to practice,’’ the coach said. “He’s got no remaining effects from COVID. So it’s just a matter of him feeling his conditioning and his timing will permit him to play.

“He told me before practice not to rule him out.’’


>Couturier skating, still on the mend


Sean Couturier, who’s been sidelined since suffering a severe rib cage injury in a collision with Pittsburgh’s Jared McCann, skated on Monday and said he’s making progress in his recovery.

There’s still no timeframe on when he might be able to play again. He’s about 10 days into a projected 14-day down time.

“I haven’t really set a timetable but I’m feeling better,’’ Couturier said. “I’m just trying to stay in as good shape as I can. Today was a step forward by skating and trying to get my game shape back together.’’

Couturier doesn’t have a problem with the hit from McCann.

“It’s probably one of those hits I’ve taken a thousand (times) in my career,’’ he said. “And probably got hit a lot harder. I’m not too sure exactly how it happened, maybe not even from the hit but taking the hit into the board and the glass and absorbing it.’’

The Flyers’ center said the first few days were rough.

“Pretty painful,’’ he said. “It wasn’t easy sleeping the first few nights. But I’m feeling a lot better (now).’’


>Giroux set to break record


Claude Giroux is scheduled to play in his 611th game as Flyers’ captain on Tuesday night and that will move him past Hall of Famer Bob Clarke into the top spot on the franchise’s all-time list.

Giroux indicated it’s an honor to be in such company.

“It’s very special,’’ he said. “Clarkie is probably the best player to ever play in this organization. He’s been great for me in my career. He’s helped me a lot. It (the record) feels great.’’

Vigneault said: “The captain is the player that sets the tone, sets the proper example. When the coach is not around, he’s an extension of the coaching staff to (implement) the right culture, attitude and that’s everywhere. I believe Claude is a very strong captain with a strong desire to win, to push himself and his teammates.’’


>Short shots


Brian Elliott will start in goal on Tuesday night. In his only other start, he shut out Buffalo, 3-0. Meanwhile, Carter Hart has given up at least four goals in each of his last three starts.

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About Wayne Fish 2473 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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