A surprise omission from the Philadelphia Flyers’ lineup tonight in Detroit was young defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere. The team announced that their top blue liner would miss the game due to an upper body injury and that he is considered day-to-day. Gostisbehere in fact took a shot to the hand in yesterday’s game against the Dallas Stars, that forced him to leave. Although he was able to return before the end of the game, the injury appears to be more serious than originally thought, as it is now causing him to miss time.
Gostisbehere is in the midst of yet another strong year in his sophomore campaign, with 16 points in 29 games thus far. This mark is tops among Flyers defenseman, as his 46 points in 2015-16 was as well. After struggling through some defensive issues earlier in the season that earned him a healthy scratch, “Ghost Bear” has turned it around. He’s playing a more responsible defensive game, leading the team in ice time, and currently on a four-game point. The Flyers themselves are streaking right now, having won eight in a row and 10 of 13 since Gostisbehere was scratched.
With a hole on the back end now, Philadelphia is putting their great defensive depth to work by inserting Michael Del Zotto into the lineup. With the emergence of rookie Ivan Provorov and the return to form of Andrew MacDonald, to go along with what was already a strong corps of blue liners, Del Zotto has seen his role greatly reduced. Between some time lost to injury early in the season and several games spent in the press box with fellow defenseman Nick Schultz, Del Zotto has played in just 13 games this season. He’ll get a chance to earn more frequent play time with a strong performance as Gostisbehere’s fill-in.