After a one-game benching, defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere will return to the Flyers' lineup Saturday afternoon against the Steven Stamko-less Tampa Bay Lightning at the Wells Fargo Center.
Gostisbehere, 23, was paired with Michael Del Zotto at Friday's practice in Voorhees, a clear indication he will play Saturday. He sat in the press box and watched goalie Steve Mason key Thursday's 5-2 win over Winnipeg.
"I'm going to turn this into a positive," said Gostisbehere, who was second in the rookie-of-the-year voting last season and was named the city's Pro Athlete of the Year on Thursday by the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association. "Obviously it was a different vantage point up in the sky, but I was just most happy about the two points our team had. We played a great defensive game and Mase really stood on his head."
Watching from the press box, "the game just slows down a little bit," Gostisbehere said. "You see things develop. I'm not always watching the puck up there, either. I'm watching other guys. It was a good thing."
Gostisbehere has three goals and 10 points in his 17 games. But he has struggled defensively at times and has been pushed off the puck.
"I'm not the biggest guy. I have to use my speed more," said the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Gostisbehere. "Use my abilities, like Coach says. I have to be held accountable for my play, too. . . . I've got to put in my work, put on my hard hat."
Coach Dave Hakstol said he didn't have any preconceived notions about how long Gostisbehere would be benched, but thought that "most likely" it would be for just one game.
Hakstol said it was a learning process for him and his young players.
"I'm in my second year in this league and I learn something new every day," he said. ". . . It's easy to take some of the moves we make in a negative way, but that's not the case. For young players, it's a learning process. I used the word 'accountability' [Thursday]. There's that element with a team, and most importantly, just taking positive steps forward as you become a more consistent, and more effective player at this level - and that's not an easy step for young players to make.
"And Ghost is still a young player."
Added Hakstol: "Sometimes you make the right decision, coaching-wise, and sometimes it's not the right decision, but when you base it on good solid thought, usually it turns out good for the player."
Hakstol said it "should be an immediate positive for the player, even though it's hard to take."
On Saturday, the Flyers (8-7-3) will face an 11-6-1 Tampa Bay team that will be without the injured Stamkos (knee) for at least four months. The Flyers play the Lightning twice in their next three games.
"Obviously, it's a little less to worry about, but they have guys who can fill in," said defenseman Radko Gudas, who had six hits and three blocked shots Thursday. "For us, it's important we don't give them a lot of power-play opportunities."
"They missed him a couple years ago and they went to the finals, so they're still a good team," winger Jake Voracek said.
Breakaways. Voracek's girlfriend, Nicole, gave birth to their son, Jakub, Jr., on Thursday morning. "The most memorable feeling I've had in my life," he said. . . . Mason will start Saturday, and Anthony Stolarz is expected to make his NHL debut in one of the upcoming back-to-back road games - Tuesday against Florida, or Wednesday against Tampa. . . . Tampa's Nikita Kucherov began Friday tied for the NHL lead with 22 points. . . . Entering Friday, the Flyers (27 percent success) and Tampa (25.7) had the NHL's Nos. 2 and 3 power plays.