Alain Vigneault is putting Shayne Gostisbehere back into the lineup for Friday afternoon’s game against the slumping Detroit Red Wings. His message to his struggling defenseman is simple: just be yourself.
“I want him to play to his strengths,” the Flyers coach said. “He’s a skilled defenseman, so beat the forecheck, make that good first pass [out of the defensive zone], jump up in the play when the opportunity is there. The best and the toughest offense to defend is that second wave when you have your Ds be part of the attack.”
Rookie Phil Myers will be the healthy scratch. Friday is the first of back-to-back games and in the midst of a stretch of four games in five days. The Flyers head immediately to Montreal for a Saturday afternoon game following the Detroit game.
“Phil’s played well,” Vigneault said, “but I want to get ‘Ghost’ back in.”
Gostisbehere had just one goal in his first 22 contests when Vigneault decided to give him a three-game break. He will be paired with Robert Hagg and resume his role on the power play.
“[Gostisbehere’s] a smart player. He knows when it’s time to jump up. His defensive play has been fine,” Vigneault said. “He’s battled. He’s competed ... He’s got to play to his strengths. He’s aware of that and hopefully he does that for us today.”
Carter Hart will start in net. Brian Elliott is Vigneault’s goalie for Montreal.
♦ Center Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder) traveled with the Flyers to Columbus and was part of a small group of players who skated on Thursday, but his return is not imminent. “He’s had more good days than previously, but it’s tough to predict,” general manager Chuck Fletcher told the team’s flagship radio station on Friday. Patrick has not been cleared for contact.
♦ The Red Wings have lost seven in a row (0-5-2) and have been shutout in two straight. They’ve gone 156 minutes, 28 seconds without scoring. More succinctly, they haven’t scored in a week.
♦ Detroit’s leading scorer, Anthony Mantha, is out with a lower-body injury. Veteran defenseman Mike Green (UBI) has been activated off the injured list.
♦ Goaltender Jimmy Howard got hurt on Wednesday, leading to Calvin Pickard being recalled from the AHL. Pickard started eight games for the Flyers last season.