Flyers weekly observations: Travis Sanheim's impact on Shayne Gostisbehere's role


The Flyers went to the shootout only once last week.

What's gotten into these guys?

Jokes aside, the Flyers had a solid but unspectacular stretch in which they went 1-1-1 with a quality road win over a divisional opponent. They were bit in the skills competition Saturday and have gone to the shootout seven times during November, which has made for an interesting month.

Let's get into that and more with our weekly observations:

• Shayne Gostisbehere watched Saturday's 3-2 shootout loss to the Flames from the press box. He opened the season as the Flyers' power play quarterback. On Game 23, he was a healthy scratch.

With Gostisbehere looking on, Travis Sanheim saw his role expand and it was noticeable. The 23-year-old played 23:16, his second-highest ice time of the season. He entered the game with a total of 6:22 minutes played on the man advantage. During Saturday's game, he played 2:51 on the power play and looked fluid at the point.

Sanheim, who has good size and a strong skating stride, recorded a goal and an assist over the week. The 2014 first-round pick could be a roadblock to Gostisbehere earning back his role and minutes.

The season is young and Gostisbehere didn't just lose his offensive ability. But the 26-year-old has hardly shown glimpses of his trademark slipperiness that helps the Flyers transition the puck up ice and break down the opposition. When he's not providing that, his effectiveness can drop.

Does Gostisbehere have the best traits of a simpler, bottom-pair guy? It's a fair question and makes Sanheim's job duties worth watching moving forward.

• Entering Monday, only three NHL teams had more points than the Flyers in November. Alain Vigneault's bunch has earned at least a point in 10 of 12 games this month (6-2-4).

Some of that is good, some of that is not so good.

The Flyers are in a playoff spot two games before Thanksgiving. Over the previous two seasons, the Flyers were in last place of the Metropolitan Division on Turkey Day.

Then again, the Flyers have lost four of seven shootouts during November. In three of those four shootout defeats, the Flyers held a lead in the third period. So far this month, eight of the Flyers' 12 games have gone past regulation. In six of those eight, the Flyers had a third-period advantage.

No team is going to close out every single game but the Flyers must start tacking onto leads and securing them. The shootout/overtime trend could eventually become costly.

• On Saturday, James van Riemsdyk played only 9:06 minutes, his lowest ice time in a game (non-injury related) since the 2010-11 season. JVR entered the week playing 16:33 minutes per game but played an average of 11 over the Flyers' three-game week.

He's currently on the Flyers' fourth line and is scoreless over his last seven games. The two-time 30-plus goal scorer might have to notch a greasy goal in limited minutes to climb back up the lineup.

The fourth line is not where he is best utilized.

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