It has been a strange season for defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, now in his sixth year with the Flyers.
He has regained his mobility after two knee surgeries last season and, at least offensively, has shown flashes of his old self, scoring five goals in 26 games before Monday.
That’s the good news.
The bad news: After recovering from a bout with the coronavirus at the start of the season, Gostisbehere has been benched a handful of times for his defensive shortcomings, and last week he was put on waivers but was not claimed.
Through it all, the player they call “Ghost” has tried to keep an upbeat attitude.
“Obviously, you never want to be put on waivers, but we’re in a unique season, a unique situation,” Gostisbehere said before the Flyers’ clutch 3-2 overtime win Monday in Boston. “We’re not winning a lot of games right now, and obviously management is going to do whatever they have to do to make our team better. They’re going to do their job, just like I’m trying to do mine.”
By putting Gostisbehere on the taxi squad after he cleared waivers, it gave the Flyers more cap room and more roster flexibility. He sat out Wednesday’s 6-1 loss to Buffalo but was back on the ice for Saturday’s shootout loss to the Islanders and remained in the lineup for Monday’s overtime win in Boston.
“Obviously you have to roll with the punches,” he said of being placed on waivers. “Obviously it [stinks] ... I’m just going to stay positive and keep rolling.”
Gostisbehere, who turns 28 on April 20, said the fact he has been a walking trade rumor for so long lessened the shock of being placed on waivers.
“I’m definitely used to it by now,” he said. “I’ve been on that top-20 trade list I think for three seasons now. It is what it is, and it comes with the nature of the business. It obviously [stinks] at times when you think about it, and it can weigh on your mind a little bit because you’ve built a life in the city and, in just a snap of your fingers, you can be somewhere else. Obviously, it’s something you think about, but my job as a professional is to just go out there and do what I can do and what’s in my control — and that’s playing hockey.”
Entering Monday, Gostisbehere was on pace to score 16 goals if his time was prorated to an 82-game season. His career-high is 17 goals, which he scored as a rookie in 2015-16.
As for facing the Bruins three times this week, Gostisbehere was hopeful. The Flyers began the night four points behind Boston for the final East Division playoff spot and pulled to within three with the overtime win.
“We can really make some strides in the standings” he said before playing 19-plus solid minutes in Monday’s critical victory. “... We know how important these games are and we’re just going to go out and do our best to get two points every night. ... We’re treating every game like it’s a playoff game. We need points and we need points bad.
“We’re not going to get six points in one game, so we just have to take it one game at a time.,” he added. “Try to get two points every night and roll from there.”
Left winger Oskar Lindblom, who overcame a rare bone cancer last season, was rested for the second time in the last three games and replaced by Michael Raffl. Coach Alain Vigneault, noting the Flyers started a five-games-in-seven-days stretch Monday, said that “it’s been a lot of hockey for Oskar” and that not having him play on back-to-back nights was better for him in the long run. ... Rookie Tanner Laczynski remained in the lineup for the second straight game. ... Brian Elliott got the start Monday, a mild surprise because Carter Hart played well in Saturday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Islanders. Hart will start Tuesday against the visiting Bruins, Vigneault said. ... Justin Braun and Nic Aube-Kubel each had four hits in Monday’s win, Travis Konecny had five shots, and Ivan Provorov contributed a pair of assists.