‘I paid for it' — As Ghost comes back, Flyers' defensive picture intensifies


It's looking like Sean Couturier (lower-body injury) will be back in the lineup Monday night.

If Couturier is able to play, he won't be the only one making an anticipated return to action for the Flyers (15-11-3) as the club comes home to host the Islanders (20-8-4).

Let's get into the essentials for the game:

  • When: 7 p.m. ET with The Warm Up at 6 p.m. ET and Flyers Pregame Live at 6:15 p.m. ET
  • Where: Wells Fargo Center
  • Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
  • Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• Head coach Alain Vigneault will turn to Shayne Gostisbehere after sitting the defensemen for the last three games, citing his defensive struggles. There was about no way Vigneault couldn't go back to Gostisbehere after Nate Prosser had three turnovers result in half of the Islanders' output Saturday as the Flyers were steamrolled, 6-1.

In 20 games, Gostisbehere leads Flyers defensemen in goals with five and is tied with Ivan Provorov in shots at 52. Gostisbehere has a minus-10 rating in March. As a whole, the Flyers have played poorly this month. Entering Monday, they've gone 4-7-0 with an NHL-most 4.64 goals allowed per game in March.

Vigneault and the Flyers want Gostisbehere to be stronger in coverage.

"A little bit like our team: more consistency when it's time to defend," Vigneault said Monday before morning skate. "Ghost was defending real well at the beginning. I think that enabled him also to have a good 5-on-5 and power play game. His defensive part of the game, his killing plays, his 1-on-1 situations, his 1-on-1 situations with the forward coming at him with speed — when he's got a tight gap and he's right there and he's strong, he kills those plays. He hadn't done that, he's aware of that, he's getting an opportunity to play tonight and we expect him, like our team, to play well and be consistent."

Gostisbehere is expected to be back on the top defensive pair with Provorov.

"I think just more defending; they said my offense is doing fine," Gostisbehere said Monday. "When you're playing with confidence offensively, you can tell. You've got to play with confidence defensively, as well. You've got to be hard on pucks, you've got to win 1-on-1s and I don't think I was really doing that. Obviously I paid for it. I'm going to learn from it and move on."

Gostisbehere, who is in his sixth full season with the Flyers, was asked if there was something he could learn from sitting and watching. Gostisbehere turns 28 years old next month and has dealt with being benched before in his career.

"I don't know about learn anything at this point in the state of my career," Gostisbehere said. "It obviously sucks being out, you never want to be out. I think I've got to look at some positives, I could use the rest and I'm going to go from there."

The Flyers have two offensive-minded defensemen with similar qualities in Gostisbehere and Erik Gustafsson. Both can quarterback a power play, orchestrate offense and "defending is something that they have to stay on top of," Vigneault said last week.

Gostisbehere has heard his name pop up in rumors over the past two NHL trade deadlines and offseasons. His name will likely surface some more as this season's April 12 trade deadline nears. One would think Gustafsson could become pretty expendable soon if Gostisbehere continues to provide offense and Robert Hagg gets healthy. As the Flyers look for defensive help, Gustafsson has a one-year, $3 million deal, is a tape-to-tape kind of passer from the back end and will be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. The Flyers would lose him for nothing after this season and they're currently not lacking offensive qualities in their defensive group. They need significantly better goal prevention.

• Brian Elliott is in net for the Flyers tonight and Alex Lyon will back up. The purpose of Lyon backing up was for Carter Hart to have a longer and busier practice Monday morning as he prepares for Tuesday night's game against the Devils (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

The Flyers are three points behind the Bruins for the fourth and final playoff spot in the East Division. Boston has a game in hand on them. The Flyers are seven points behind the Penguins and have three games in hand on Pittsburgh. Coming into Monday night's matchup with the Islanders, the Flyers are allowing the NHL's second-most goals per game at 3.55.

"We're dealing with a little adversity right now," Gostisbehere said. "We're turning over pucks and we're making it harder on ourselves. I wouldn't say we're playing that bad, we're just turning over pucks and next thing you know it's in the back of our net. We're not helping our own cause."

Projected lineup



James van Riemsdyk-Sean Couturier-Joel Farabee

Scott Laughton-Kevin Hayes-Travis Konecny

Oskar Lindblom-Claude Giroux-Jakub Voracek

Michael Raffl-Nolan Patrick-Nicolas Aube-Kubel


Ivan Provorov-Shayne Gostisbehere

Travis Sanheim-Justin Braun

Erik Gustafsson-Philippe Myers


Brian Elliott

Alex Lyon

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