It’s been a bumpy year and a half or so for Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere. It’s scary to think that in November 2019, he was benched as his confidence shattered. An injury-riddled campaign clouded his future and an offseason of trade discussions followed. Fast forward to the present day and he’s getting back to the player fans have come to know and love.
It feels like forever ago that the ghost and bear emojis flooded Twitter. His astonishing 65-point campaign in 2017-18, was but a distant memory after Shayne Gostisbehere and his sniping success slowly slipped away. The further he faded, the more pressure he faced after signing a hefty six-year, $27 million contract.
After an offseason of trade rumors and the addition of a player with a near-identical skillset in Erik Gustafsson, the writing appeared to be on the wall for Gostisbehere. What many didn’t see coming was a fruitful resurgence that continues to bring the Flyers a spark at just the right time. Over the last 8 games, the 5’11, 180 lbs, defenseman has 4 goals and 1 assist, with two of his goals coming on the power play.
His most recent adventure came in the way of a strong outing against the Sabres. A huge shot from the point with 5:46 left in the third period tied things up against the Sabres and set up an eventual win. There has been a notable flair to Ghost’s game as of late. Over the last eight games, his shooting percentage sits at 12.9% (up from 8.9%), with 31 of his 45 shots coming in that span. This means that while the accuracy is improving, it’s actually doing so in-line with a huge increase in volume, making it even more impressive.
“I think it is pretty obvious I’m healthy.” Ghost said after the impressive shootout win over the Sabres. “I think that’s one of the biggest attributes to that. When you get in the groove, you’re in the groove. I’m seeing the plays before I get the puck and I’m making them without hesitation. That’s when you know you have the confidence. It’s going out there, knowing who you’re out with, make the plays and hopefully it goes good for you.”
It’s great to see Gostisbehere filled with confidence. The defense has been flailing and while Ghost isn’t a defensive piece, his contributions on special teams and at even-strength have been vital in stopping the bleeding. What the long-term future holds is anyone’s guess, but as Gostisbehere continues to drill shots in from the point, bringing back memories of that glorious 65-point campaign, it appears as if things are finally sunny in Philadelphia for the Florida native.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre