December Evaluation: Defense

This season has been one wild ride. From having a solid start to the season, to a small fork in the road where we couldn’t win a game for our lives, and then miraculously playing great, consistent hockey, this season has made me feel a wide range of emotions. Now, everyone on this team has had there fair of issues. At one point the offense couldn’t score, the defense couldn’t defend, and then the goalies couldn’t save goals. While I could talk about each and every issue the Flyers have, I wanted to talk about how lazy I am and how I would never do that. So instead of a large in depth analysis, I will cut it down to be a short in depth analysis. Today, I will be diving into the heart of our defense, and discussing how our players have changed during this season.

#1: Matt Niskanen

Matt Niskanen is easily our most reliable defenseman that we have had all year. During the offseason, the Flyers acquired Niskanen through a one for one trade with the Washington Capitals. Matt was traded by Washington because of his declining point production. But, Matt must’ve taken a liken to his new orange and black jersey because he already has more than half the points than he had all of last year. He is producing points while also being a solid defenseman. During games, you can see his hustle and willingness to win puck battles. Along with Provy, he is the hardest working defenseman on this team. Matt has proved that he isn’t declining, but thriving.

Season Stats: Games Played: 30. Goals: 3. Assists: 10. Points Total: 13

#2: Shayne Gostisbehere

Shayne, Shayne, Shayne. What happened to you? You were one of the greats! I remember a time where this team could always rely on you. I miss you Shayne; please come home. Ever since the 2017-2018 season where Ghost produced 65 points (13g-52a), Shayne’s production has severely dropped off. Ghost’s issues are a mystery too many because there are no clear reasons on why his play took a hit. This year and last, Ghost has been an error magnet. I can think of numerous occasions where Shayne would lose the puck or make a bad pass, which would lead to a goal against. Let’s just say, Ghost-Bear’s play has been more than underwhelming. But, there is some hope. In recent games, Ghost has shown signs of his former self (like his slap-shot goal against Toronto and Ottawa). Let’s just hope that Ghost can find his talent again.

Season Stats: Games Played: 27. Goals: 4. Assists: 6. Points Total: 10

#3: Philippe Myers

Mr. Myers has been a solid defenseman for the Flyers this season. Being able to produce some points and show off his talent has greatly increased Myers confidence. Just look at recent games … Myers is playing with more confidence than ever. He’s making more risky plays and playing with a certain swagger. Now I know that Myers is still young and still has some kinks, but don’t be fooled. This kid is a talented defenseman, and AV is developing him well. Just watch the games! His rookie year he played 21 games and totaled 2 points. He already has 12 points through 16 games this year. Myers is good now; he will be great in the near future.

Season Stats: Games Played: 17. Goals: 3. Assists: 6. Points Total: 9

#4: Ivan Provorov

He. Is. Back. The Ivan Provorov that everyone knows and loves is back. While he may have been a defensive liability and one of our worst players last year, Provorov has bounced back in a huge way. Leading the way with Matt Niskanen, Ivan is showing us why he is one of the best. He plays well over 20 minutes every game, produces a fair amount of points, is very skillful, and very defensively sound. He is easily one of our best players out on the ice right now. I am very thankful that Provy was able to bounce back after an unfortunate year prior. His play has been very impressive and I am excited to see what he has for us in the future.

Season Stats: Games Played: 30. Goals: 7. Assists: 12. Points Total: 19

#5: Travis Sanheim

Travis Sandman. I am very conflicted with Travis as a player. On one hand, I love his play. He is usually reliable defensively, and is capable of offensive prowess. But, on the other hand, I don’t see confidence in this kid. I understand that he is only 23 years old and this is only his third year as a Flyer, but I wanna see this kid shine. I wanna see more production and more hunger out of this kid. If Travis is able to be confident in himself and his play, he will excel immensely. But overall, I like his play this season. He still has kinks like Myers, but nothing to out of the ordinary. I am excited to see what Sanheim can bring to the table.

Season Stats: Games Played: 14. Goals: 2. Assists: 6. Points Total: 8

#6: Justin Braun and Robert Hagg

I paired these two together because of how average they are. Braun and Hagg are fine solutions for short term play. But I would only trust these guys in a third line pair role. Hagg has been average for most of his time with the Flyers. He doesn’t really do anything besides hit opposing players and take up space on the ice. He plays average defense at best, and produces a low amount of points. The perfect word to describe him is “eh”. Braun is a little different … but not by much. His point production is similar to Hagg’s, with 5 points on the season (two more than Hagg). Braun is more of a solid defenseman, and usually plays more reserved. I don’t really have much to say about these two players. They are just so boring to write about.

Justin Braun season stats: Games Played: 30. Goals: 0. Assists: 5. Points Total: 5

Robert Hagg season stats: Games Played: 17. Goals: 0. Assists: 3. Points Total: 3

Bonus: Sam Morin

Get better Sam. Get better.

By: Ryan Meyer (@ryanlmeyer)

pc: thehockeywriters, nhl.com, nbcsports, inquirer,

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