Last season, it took Philadelphia Flyers’ General Manager Ron Hextall about month into the season to realize the potential impact Shayne Gostisbehere could have for the Flyers, especially on the power play. He was far from disappointed. In just 64 games, the young man they call “Ghost” posted 58 points, 22 of which were on the man-advantage. Ghost went on a tear, posting the longest points streak for a rookie defenseman with 15 games. His great puck movement and solid defense even helped the Flyers make the playoffs despite a rough start and being counted out early on.
On November 17, 2016, Gostisbehere was named Philadelphia Pro Athlete of the Year by the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association. That same evening, Ghost was a healthy scratch. Flyers’ Head Coach Dave Hakstol cited growth, development, and accountability as the reasons. The Philadelphia Sports Writers Association still honored him on February 3, 2017, just as planned. But November 17 was the first of five games this season to see a healthy Ghost taken out of the lineup.
Gostisbehere was a scratch for Monday’s matchup against the St. Louis Blues, his third in a row.
Ghost has only four goals and 17 assists in 48 games played so far this season. It’s safe to say that he is going through the infamous “Sophomore Slump.” He’s been taken off the top power play unit, replaced by Mark Streit. His confidence with and away from the puck has also declined. It is very much worth noting that Ghost underwent offseason hip surgery, and he may not have had enough recovery time before the start of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. This explain ehy ihe is slightly a half-step behind. Whatever it is, it is unpleasant for Ghost and the Flyers.
But, not to worry! Shayne Gostisbehere is obviously not the first player to suffer the Sophomore Slump. Take Kevin Hayes, forward for the New York Rangers. After a 45-point rookie season, Hayes’ production dropped nine points last year, and his quality of play was clearly not up to par. He seemed sluggish, and his decisions with the puck were questionable, at best. This year, after losing some weight in the offseason, in just 47 games, Hayes is only one point shy of last years’ totals.
Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche had a tremendous rookie season with 63 points. In his Sophomore season, his pace was only 48 points in 82 games. Last season he bounced back with a 52 points in 72 games (59-point pace in 82 games). And despite all of Colorado’s struggles this season, MacKinnon is still on pace for 56 points in 82 games.
Dylan Larkin, forward for the Detroit Red Wings is going through his Sophomore Slump as well. Last season, Larkin had 45 points in 80 games. This season, he only has 18 in 50 games. He will be lucky to hit 30 by the season’s end at this pace.
No one is having a worse Sophomore Slump than Anthony Duclair this season. Duclair, forward for the Arizona Coyotes, is following up his 44-point rookie campaign with 9 points in 41 games, and a relegation to the AHL. He is probably not getting a fair shot playing in Arizona this season, but what has really changed from last year to now that his point production has dropped so significantly?
The NHL is a tough league to crack into. And like most careers, it’s even harder to stay at the top.
Shayne Gostisbehere will be fine. Dave Hakstol has proven he knows how to handle young players, having had success during his at the University of North Dakota. There, in 11 seasons behind the bench, Hakstol was 289-141-43. He led the team to the top four in the NCAA Frozen Four tournament seven times, once as a runner-up in the Finals. Thus, I’m sure he knows what he’s doing with Ghost.
The Flyers are currently jockying for position for the last wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Further west across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh Penguins’ Captain Sidney Crosby is just three points shy of 1,000 points. Therefore, we’re kicking Crosby-Watch into high gear.
Also, New York Rangers’ goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is three wins shy of 400. Stay tuned!
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