Shayne Gostisbehere has a unique opportunity in Flyers’ exhibition game


Almost a week ago, reporters had the opportunity to pick at the brain of Shayne Gostisbehere. Since 2017, he has had his back against the proverbial ropes. That 2017-2018 season was the best of his career under Dave Hakstol. If you can believe it, Gostisbehere finished ninth in all-star votes that season and tenth in the James Norris Memorial Trophy votes. Since then, his career has exponentially declined.

This season, 2019-2020, has been an injury-riddled season. He would have been on pace to improve slightly from his 2018-2019 campaign, but still has a lot to prove to the Philadelphia Flyers franchise. Before the pause, Shayne Gostisbehere returned to the lineup against the Boston Bruins. That stat sheet may not have shown a big improvement, but he passed the eye test. In his return, he played sixteen minutes in a close loss to the Bruins.

Likely, Shayne Gostisbehere may not be a starting six defenseman in the Philadelphia Flyers lineup. The opportunity that he plays in the lineup above Ivan Provorov and Matt Niskanen is non-existent. Gostisbehere likely will not be inserted above Philippe Myers and Travis Sanheim. The rotational battle for playing time begins with Justin Braun and Robert Hagg. At the moment, Gostisbehere is the sixth-best defenseman of six at optimum.

“I got to make some plays out there. Try to get back in that lineup per se. I think for myself, just going out there proving I’m a good player.”

Shayne Gostisbehere; 7/21/2020

Alain Vigneault and Chuck Fletcher are using tonight’s exhibition as an audition. To anyone who thinks that this Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins exhibition means nothing, that could not be further from the truth. For the Penguins, they are addressing a lot of lineup questions tonight. Vigneault will be giving his players a lot of different looks to see how they fit in his playoff system. What is the plan for Shayne Gostisbehere?

Tonight, Shayne Gostisbehere has to perform better than Mark Friedman. If Friedman shines brighter than Gostisbehere, Shayne fails the exhibition test. Not everything will be figured out after one exhibition game, but a glowing performance will buy Gostisbehere more playing time in the round-robin. Shayne has to prove to himself just as much as he has to prove to his team that he can contribute.

“There’s something to prove there, showing that you’re ready and capable. I know they believe my skillsets there. It’s just if I am there mentally, physically, and ready to do. Every day, playing, scrimmaging and whatnot, I feel better and better.”

Shayne Gostisbehere; 7/21/2020

In the regular season, Shayne Gostisbehere competed against the Pittsburgh Penguins one time. The Flyers were dismantled by the Penguins, 7-1. Oskar Lindblom scored the only goal for Philadelphia and Gostisbehere contributed with an assist. He was the best defenseman in that game for the Flyers. If he replicates that performance tonight, he will be on the path to securing playing time and earning equity in Alain Vigneault’s playoff system.

Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports