So Why Isn't Ghost A Forward?

Created 1 years 299 days ago
by Michael DeNicola

Tags: Shayne Gostisbehere
Categories:
Views: 2356

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by Michael DeNicola

 

Thursday, February 18th, 2016 --

Every morning I like to open up the Flyers subreddit site on Reddit.com to farm out any articles or posts that contain news and/or insight that I could maybe share from our blog's Facebook page.

 

This morning I came across a post in which the user was asking why Shayne Gostisbehere wouldn't be more productive as a forward as opposed to being restricted to defense. I decided to leave an answer in the comments which I want to share here from our blog.

 

Question: "It seems to me that Ghost has been playing fine defense, although this gets lost in his slap shots with eyes for the goal. But would he not be more productive as a goal scorer and play maker as a forward?"

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Some of the more skilled and elite defensemen in today's NHL are mobile, puck-moving defensemen with heightened awareness, anticipation & execution. They're some of the more important roles in the game of hockey, especially when teams are breaking out of their own zone. Gostisbehere controls a lot of offense from the backend, and his possession skills open a ton of options through middle ice (as long as his forwards are competent enough to find lanes). As an "offensive-defenseman", Gostisbehere adds value to our transition and rush.

 

Defensively, Gostisbehere brings value to our 'shot suppression', which we really haven't seen from a Flyers defenseman in.... well, I can't really remember. To clearly illustrate what I'm talking about, I'll compare Ghost's defense skills to a guy like MacDonald: When our opponent has possession and is trying to carry it over our blueline, MacDonald is busy skating backward and trying to eliminate the puckhandler's angle. He allows a gap between himself and the opponent, and it's a pretty sizable gap. This gap opens three or four options for the opponent to take, most of which result in a shot on goal by him or teammates bleeding into the zone behind him.

 

Gostisbehere has elite awareness and anticipation which complements his raw athletic abilities exceptionally. Instead of giving our opponent the space to enter our zone with possession, he positions himself well to defend the point of entry rather than giving his opponent a gap to exploit---thus eliminating a number of options, and thus diminishing the chances of a quality shot on goal (aka, "Shot Suppression") At this point, Gostisbehere's combination of checking, poke-checking, or forcing the opponent to chip it deep have given the Flyers a better chance of taking over possession before our opponent manufactures a scoring chance.

 

Guys like Andrew MacDonald collapse backward towards the net to defend plays in deep; by then, the chance is already in development and the probability of a goal-against is larger due to higher quality shot attempts. Shayne Gostisbehere does very well defending the point of entry, which either results in no shots taken, or low-percentage shots taken from/around the perimeter.

 

What really separates Gostisbehere from the forward position is his range. Gostisbehere displays foot-speed and skating agility with ease and consistency. His range of motion isn't restricted in any way or form during play, in any facet of the game, which only amplifies his skill as part of the defense corps. His agility, blended with every other attribute, is advantageous to our whole system as a defenseman.

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