The Flyers head into the winter break fresh off of a three goal comeback against the Blues that leaves them just two points off of a playoff spot. The team have seemed to adopt a never say die attitude and since mid-November have really upped their game..is it more than just a coincidence that a certain Ghost was called up to the team around that time?
Last night marked the 10th time out of the last 12 that the Flyers were able to take points away from the game but just how impressive has their record been since Shayne Gostisbehere was called up?
Before call up: 5-8-3
After call up: 9-4-3
Gostisbehere made his presence felt in Overtime..perhaps it was the new format that generously hands a lot of open ice and opportunity to the 22 year old or perhaps it was his speed and impressive vision for the game. He scored three goals in Overtime faster than any player in NHL history..doing so in just 17 games. Overtime was previously nailbiting for Flyers fans and whilst worries are obviously still present, there now comes a sense of excitement when the 3-on-3 action unfolds.
Not only that but he ranks second in scoring among the NHL rookie Defenseman in the league despite appearing in almost half as many games with six goals and five assists.
So why are the Flyers playing so much better when Ghost is on the ice? There are a few reasons but many stem from the Flyers lack of production up front. With the top line still wobbly (Schenn and Raffl aren’t the most intimidating pair going) and the Flyers failing to create and convert on chances, Ghost has a new way of attacking..by flying up the ice himself and making something happen.
His partnership with Giroux is already verging on the usage of the #relationshipgoals hashtag. The pair can effortlessly create passing moves be it at even strength or power play to send even the most elite goalies into disarray.
But most importantly it’s that buzz. Ghost has sparked the Flyers play and it’s rapidly transcending into a fire. Most teams in the league possess mobile defenseman or at least ones that can get the puck out of danger without creating more of it. For the Flyers, that’s been hard to come by consistently in recent seasons and it takes a lot out of their Offense..how can you score if you can’t create the right chances?
But Ghost has burst onto the scene and turned a lot of heads in his maiden NHL season. Not just the speed but the way in which he can turn a defensive possession into a swift counter has not only lifted the team around him into giving them a purpose, but also helped re-enforce Hakstol’s mentalities and gameplan.
The Flyers already had the technical players, the snipers, the brutes, the playmakers..but now they have that ferocity and speed that sets up these players so beautifully which has arguably held this Offense back for so long.
Ghost is by no means a finished product and Defensively has a long way to go..in fact after a couple of his errors would have been benched by some teams by now..but what he gives to this team Offensively is enough to not only make up for it..but help give the Flyers a missing element that with the right contract moves at the end of this season, makes them one of the most dangerous outsider teams in the league.