According to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi, Philadelphia Flyers’ defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere played most of the season through an apparent knee injury. The American blue liner apparently hurt his knee after he blocked a shot in the Flyers’ 4-1 loss at home to the Colorado Avalanche on October 22nd. Here’s what Gostisbehere had to say about the injury, via Carchidi:
“Everyone deals with their injuries,” he said. “… You can’t use them as an excuse. I’m not an excuse guy. I mean, I didn’t have the best season, obviously. I felt I could’ve helped my teammates a lot more, and it’s a grind. It was a mental grind this year. I think a lot of us grew, not only on the ice, but mentally as well.”
Gostisbehere definitely wasn’t himself this season. After he posted 13 goals (tied for 15th among defensemen), 33 power-play points (led all defensemen), and 65 points (fourth among defensemen) in 2017-18, the Florida native saw those totals drop to nine goals, 14 power-play points, and 37 points in 2018-19. At 5-on-5 his corsi for percentage and points-per-60 rate didn’t drop significantly compared to last season, but his goals-against-per-60 jumped from 1.94 to 2.94, goals for percentage dropped from 58 to 42, and high-danger chances against per 60 moved from 8.98 to 10.1 this season. Gostisbehere also saw his expected goals for percentage go from a positive 51.55 in 2017-18 to a negative in 2018-19 with 49.79. Combine this with the obvious lack of explosiveness while carrying the puck and routine lapses in the defensive zone it’s easy to say this past season wasn’t fun for Ghost.
Considering the smoke surrounding the rumors the mobile d-man might be dealt and his underwhelming 2018-19 campaign, this is rather interesting news. We don’t know the severity of the injury, but we do know it wasn’t serious enough that it required surgery or painful enough to force the defenseman to sit out games due to discomfort. Also, as Ghost mentioned in the quote from above, everyone deals with their injuries. Most of the players in the NHL are playing through something every single night. If it was an injury that was an inconvenience for Gostisbehere you’d hope he’d be able to figure out a way to work around it rather than let it hinder his entire season.
With that said, the major appeal of Gostisbehere’s game are his dynamic capabilities with the puck in all three zones, especially in the offensive zone. We didn’t see The Ghost Blue Line Shimmy as frequently as we’ve seen in his previous three seasons and his presence at the top of the umbrella on the power play also felt less threatening than it has in seasons past. These aren’t the only things Gostisbehere brings to the table on a nightly basis, but they are two major parts of his game and it’s fair to say a bum knee would limit both these aspects of his play.
In what could be considered a theme for many individuals tied to the Flyers’ franchise from the end of the regular season and throughout this summer, Gostisbehere said all the right things but now he needs to back them up next season. He didn’t want to use the injury as an excuse for his unfulfilling performance this season and stated how hard he’s going to work this summer to come out firing in 2019-20, but now we have to actually see it. Intrigue involving Ghost’s departure from the team gained a lot of steam this season, but if he’s able to recover from this knee injury and provide another 60-plus point season with numerous athletic plays most defenseman in the league wouldn’t even consider attempting that intrigue should dissipate rather quickly.
*Stats courtesy of NHL.com and Natural Stat Trick