Dave Hakstol seems to think that a game in the press box will help Shayne Gostisbehere.
After all, he’s never really faced any adversity so far in his NHL career, and by benching him as a healthy scratch for tonight’s game against the Winnipeg Jets, Hakstol is hoping that Ghost will have a chance to think about the defensive side of his game.
I guess that makes sense. The thought is that it will help Gostisbehere in the long run, right? But the job of a coach is, first and foremost, to make sure the team wins hockey games. And thus, this is a textbook case of overthinking from Dave Hakstol.
- Ghost is one of the best offensive defensemen in hockey, let alone on the Flyers, with 10 points already this season. He’s an important player on the power play, and as we’ve learned over all 83 games in his NHL career, he is an absolutely vital piece on this team when it comes to driving play.
- Ghost is being replaced in the lineup by Andrew MacDonald, who is objectively one of the worst defensemen in the National Hockey League.
- You can argue that Ghost has made some mistakes on the defensive side of the puck this year, sure. He’s not a perfect player in his own end, but ... I’d argue that my first bullet point there makes this moot. Besides, any miscue he’s been responsible for pales in comparison to what MacDonald does on any given night. Have you watched that guy try to play against NHL forwards lately? It is ugly. (Also, the Flyers as a team have been bad defensively this year. Picking out Ghost, who does so many other important things, is just nuts.)
- The Flyers are a team with playoff aspirations. They are behind the 8-ball in the standings so far in the early going, and frankly they need every point they can get. It’s on the coach to ice the best possible lineup — the best possible chance to win — every night, but particularly when one or two or three or four points could legitimately be the difference between making the playoffs and not.
Dave Hakstol is putting the Flyers in a position to lose this game tonight. Period. There’s a good Winnipeg team coming to town (yes, they are good), riding youth and speed and good goaltending to a 4-0-1 streak in their last five.
And now, for the second time in a week, Hakstol has benched an important player while lesser players see ice time — be it MacDonald or the untouchable Chris VandeVelde, who somehow has only been scratched once since Hakstol took the coaching job here while guys like Brayden Schenn, Nick Cousins and Michael Raffl sit.
The thing is, we’d be silly to assume that Hakstol doesn’t know all of this. He’s a coach that is — for some reason — talking himself out of putting his best squad together right now.
When asked about it at practice this morning, Hakstol said “it’s accountability within our group.” Who’s holding Hakstol accountable for putting a subpar lineup on the ice?