BITTER BIRDS
Is Shayne Gostisbehere Going Through a Sophomore Slump?
By Adele Tippett The Flyers are at a pinnacle point in their season despite their 10-game win streak coming to close against the Stars on Dec. 17. Players who had a quiet start are coming out with a vengeance and now others are able to step back into the roles they are more accustomed to playing, or to improve in other areas that had been overlooked. It’s been a source of contention among Flyers fans; is Shayne Gostisbehere in his sophomore slump, or is he not as good as we all thought? To put it lightly, it’s neither. With the surge of the forwards, it seems like Hakstol is taking this time to have Ghost broaden his game more on the defensive end. Ghost ended last season with 46 points, 17 goals and 29 assists in a total of 64 games played. This season, with half the games played, he is about 30 points behind his total from the 2015-16 season with 16. With Ghost taking on a huge role, particularly in the first power play unit, his offensive skill was able to develop and flourish, especially when paired with Claude Giroux. This season, it appears he is taking a step back and really trying to hone in on his defensive skills. Despite being a -6, he is also putting up some of the toughest and longest minutes on the ice, averaging close to 20 a game. It’s no secret the Flyers have struggled defensively the last few seasons and players had to step up in positions they normally wouldn’t be in to fill in the gaps. While Ghost isn’t getting the goals he once was, he is breaking up plays, making smart passes in the neutral zone and setting up scoring chances. Ghost, once he gets both facets of his game under control, will without a doubt have a bigger impact on the team than he already does. It’s smart of Hakstol to pull him back to focus on the parts that need attention. After he was a healthy scratch against the Jets on Nov 17th, Ghost’s game has become more speculative and developmental as opposed to the one-timers he was well known for. While a drop-back on points for Ghost, the Flyers have seen an awakening with their forwards, allowing the defense to focus on helping out Steve Mason. Ghost has not disappeared nor has his game fallen flat, he is simply focusing on other aspects of his play so that in the future, he is a more well-rounded player. It simply is an act of making the most of your team, strengthening areas that need to be and creating a powerhouse on all fronts.