Shayne Gostisbehere is the darling of Philadelphia right now; the apple of our eye; in not so inconsequential terms, somebody that many of us see as a savior.
And it's true: this guy is already and will continue to be a very good NHL player. It's going to be incredibly fun not only watching the rest of this season, but hopefully the rest of his career in orange and black. His puck skills, his shot, his skating flair. He's an exciting player and it's showing on the box score. He could win the Calder Trophy. He could be in the World Cup in September.
But look. We all know that at some point he's going to hit a slump. All hockey players do. He's not going to shoot at a 12 percent conversion rate the rest of his career -- although he certainly may be an above-average player in this department -- and he's going to make mistakes with the puck.
That's built in with the way he plays. He is an offensive defenseman who has to take risks with the puck to be successful. There will be a time when his stick will break on a shot at the point and it will turn into a breakaway in the other direction. Instead of miraculously keeping a bouncing puck in the zone, it'll hop over his skate and the opponent will get a chance the other way. Or he'll lose an edge and the puck will end up in the back of the Flyers net as a result.
It is inevitable, and when this happens you can absolutely imagine how the media and fans in Philly will begin picking apart his game and putting a spotlight on his flaws. The honeymoon won't last forever.
In this regard, Gostisbehere's game reminds me a lot of P.K. Subban. And I write this today because what is happening with Subban up in Montreal right now is a total joke.
Last night, Subban made a mistake with the puck in a tie game late in the third period. It resulted in a Colorado rush, a goal against, and another loss for a team that's rapidly unraveling.
Simply put, the Canadiens leading scorer made a mistake while taking the kind of risk that makes him the Canadiens leading scorer.
And his coach threw him under the bus for it. Not only did Michel Therrien bench Subban for the remaining three minutes of the one-goal game -- three minutes that they totally could have used their top scorer and most dangerous player-- but he called him out for it afterwards.
#Habs: " Un jeu individualiste qui a coûté le match de ce soir " - Michel Therrien lance son message à Subban.— J-F Chaumont (@JFChaumontJDM) February 18, 2016
"A selfish play that cost us the game tonight."
Michel Therrien went out of his way to throw his best player under the bus. He looked that gift horse right in the mouth and decided the right course of action was to complain.
And let's be clear, he wasn't prompted. He wasn't led into the question by a nefarious journalist. He singled out a single play from P.K. Subban, blaming the loss on his best player.
Yes, the same player who happens to lead the Habs in scoring despite being a defenceman. Yes, the same defenceman that has been on the ice for over 60% of Montreal's goals this year. Yes, the same defenceman who drives Montreal's offense, all the while playing a solid defensive game.
I don't think Dave Hakstol would be the kind of coach to place blame on a player like Shayne Gostisbehere if this similar play were to happen. I do, however, think that the Philadelphia fan base would be quick to blame a player for something like this ... particularly if the honeymoon period has worn off and that player is in the middle of a slump.
So, I write this to simply say we should heed the warning. Shayne Gostisbehere is an extremely exciting player, and all signs point to him being a very good player on this Flyers team for years to come. But just like P.K. Subban is an exciting, flashy player that makes the game worth watching, Ghost's most exciting qualities will lead to the exact type of mistakes Subban made last night.
When they do, let's not do to Ghost what Montreal routinely does to their best player.