Flyers Top Defensive Performances in 2019-2020

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© Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The high praise given to the Philadelphia Flyers forwards due to the depth and talent in 2019-2020 can be restated about the defensemen. Chuck Fletcher and Alain Vigneault have been able to make the proper substitutions when players were injured. Depth from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms has been serviceable at the NHL level. There have been some players that have over-achieved in the 2019-2020 season too. This isn’t just evident during even-strength hockey.

On special teams, the Philadelphia Flyers defensemen were playing at a high rate in 2019-2020. The Flyers powerplay converted 20.8% of the time, which is .5% from tenth in the NHL. On the penalty kill, Philadelphia had an 81.8% kill percentage, which is .9% from fifth in the NHL. Couple this with the goaltending performances and the production from the forwards, it’s no wonder the Flyers went on a hot streak of 9-1-0 in the last ten games. Let’s take a closer look at the top performances of the Philadelphia defensemen:

Ivan Provorov

This season, Ivan Provorov became an elite defenseman in his pairing with Matt Niskanen. The former first-round, seventh overall pick in 2015 has developed into the dominant defensemen the Philadelphia Flyers needed. His best night on the ice was against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the ninth game of the 2019-2020 season. Provorov shares his best game of the regular season with another Flyers teammate, James van Riemsdyk. “Provy” finished the night with a +/- of 3 and two assists, including one to van Riemsdyk.

Matt Niskanen

Matt Niskanen proved to be a great grab in the offseason by Chuck Fletcher. Before the NHL season went on a hiatus, the former Washington Capital was having his best season since 2016-2017. Niskanen’s best performance was against the Colorado Avalanche. He shares his best game of 2019-2020 with other Philadelphia Flyers teammates, Alex Lyon and Joel Farabee, who had the game-winning goal. “Nisky” finished the night with a +/- of 4, one goal, and one assist.

Travis Sanheim

We’re into the second pairing of Philadelphia Flyers defensemen when discussing Travis Sanheim. He’s a former first-round, seventeenth overall pick in 2014 who developed with the Flyers throughout Ivan Provorov’s career. He joins his Philadelphia teammates Jakub Voracek and Derek Grant in having his best game of 2019-2020 against the New York Rangers, just in a different game. In this particular game against the Rangers, Sanheim was a scorer and a playmaker on special teams. “Heimeken” had a +/- of 3, two goals, and one assist on the powerplay.

Philippe Myers

Philippe Myers is the only defenseman that reached the injury report at the time of the NHL’s decision to suspend games. The bright side to the Coronavirus is that if this takes a month, Myers will be healthy enough to practice with the Philadelphia Flyers. His best game this season is one that he owns to himself against the Toronto Maple Leafs. “Philadelphia Myers” had a +/- of 3 and three assists. His first assist was on a Claude Giroux goal, which was the game-winner.

Robert Hagg

Here is one of my favorite stories of this 2019-2020 season. Robert Hagg began this season as a defenseman that wasn’t supposed to be in the lineup. For the majority of the season, Hagg was the most physical defenseman on the Philadelphia Flyers. “Ironman Hagg’s” best night was against the Florida Panthers this season, finishing with a +/- of 3 and a powerplay goal. The powerplay goal was the sixth team goal of the night for the Flyers.

Justin Braun

During the recent ten-game streak when the Philadelphia Flyers were 9-1-0, Justin Braun made some great defensive plays. He was in the right place to disrupt passing lanes and poke the puck away on odd-man rushes. In that streak, Braun earned a little more of my trust in each game. His best game in 2019-2020 was also against the New York Rangers, sharing that same honor with Travis Sanheim on the same night. Braun had a +/- of 3 and two assists.

Shayne Gostisbehere

As much as I was on the side of trading Shayne Gostisbehere at the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline, I will be the first to admit that he played well against the Boston Bruins just before the NHL suspended league play. This has been a tough season on Gostisbehere and the Philadelphia Flyers decisions concerning him because of the injuries and surgery sustained. Before those dark times, Gostisbehere had his best game against the Toronto Maple Leafs with Philippe Myers. That night, “Ghost Bear” had a +/- of 3, one goal, and one assist. He and Myers both registered an assist on James van Riemsdyk’s goal against his former team.

Another defenseman that saw playing time with the Philadelphia Flyers this season was Mark Friedman, who was recalled from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms for six total NHL games. He did register a point when he scored against the Boston Bruins but finished his stint with a +/- of 0. His sample size of NHL experience is simply too small to dissect, but Friedman was a serviceable find by Chuck Fletcher and Alain Vigneault when looking to the Phantoms. This is a time that I am sure Samuel Morin would have been handpicked for playing time, but he has been out for the season with a torn ACL. Regardless, the depth at defensemen for the Flyers has been impressive.

Leave a comment below with your favorite memory of this season from any of the players I mentioned above. For your fix of Flyers content, be sure to give @EricReesePSN and @PhillySportsNetwork a follow on Twitter.

Mandatory Credit – © Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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