Philadelphia Flyers 2017-18 Season Preview Part II: The Defense

NHL: SEP 21 Preseason - Flyers at Bruins

Philadelphia Flyers 2017-18 Season Preview Part I: The Forwards

There is going to be a time when the Philadelphia Flyers blueline is one of the best units in the league. There is going to be a time when Flyers fans can look at the team’s defense and have full confidence in their ability to give the team a chance to win every night. That time is not exactly today but it’s coming very very soon. There are still a few question marks around this unit right now. Primarily like who is going to be playing tomorrow night.

It seemed like the original plan was to send Travis Sanheim back down to Lehigh Valley to get the Flyers roster down to 23. Why you’d send a kid who can pick apart Hank like this back down to the minors is beyond me.

He was arguably the most exciting player to watch during the preseason. He produced offensively. Made a few minor mistakes defensively but nothing that we haven’t seen out of Flyers defensemen before. In terms of “how much hope does this guy bring to the Flyers franchise” I’d put him right behind Provorov. But I guess Hextall thought he could still use a little more experience down in the minezies. However, he’s still up with the big boys today after Shayne Gostisbehere got injured on Sunday night and may not be able to lace up with the boys in San Jose. Chances are that once Ghost is good to go that Sanheim will get sent back down to the Phantoms. But maybe he comes out tomorrow night and lights shit up and then I’d love to see Hextall try to maneuver his ass out of that one.

Anyway, the Flyers’ defense is finally so close to being out of the shit storm that the Holmgren era created. They were old, slow, cap heavy sons of bitches who have been dragging this team down for years. Now they have Ivan Provorov with a full pro season under his belt. Shayne Gostisbehere who already got his sophomore slump out of the way. At least 2 rookies with Robert Hagg–who made the team outright–then either Sam Morin and/or Travis Sanheim. Radko Gudas who is actually good. Brandon Manning and Andrew MacDonald (for the time being). Obviously heading into the season with 2-3 rookie defensemen isn’t ideal. But having the full Fab 5 of Gostisbehere, Provorov, Sanheim, Morin and Hagg up is something we’ve been waiting on for years. Feels great that it’s finally here. So let’s get into it.

Ivan Provorov – Andrew MacDonald

Ivan Provorov is going to have a letter on his sweater one of these days in Philly. I don’t know how he is in the locker room but on the ice, he’s clearly the leader of this defense. And I get how frustrating it can be to see the team’s best defenseman constantly paired with Andrew MacDonald out there. I, too, wish that there was a better option out there. But for the time being, there isn’t. And it’s for a couple of reasons. For starters, they already have experience playing together. Which doesn’t mean much but it definitely helps. Secondly, Ivan Provorov is somebody who the Flyers need to allow to take some chances out there on the ice. He’s the most dynamic player they have on the blueline and he should have the greenlight to take some risks. MacDonald is a veteran. He may make some shitty plays here and there but that’s just a lack of skill. It’s not because he doesn’t know better or anything. So having someone paired with Ivan Provorov who knows their role and can just constantly try their best to not screw up while he figures out what he’s capable of doing in this league is huge. Sanheim and Morin are both left handed shots so you wouldn’t want to pair them with Provorov. Ghost can play the right side but you can’t have both of them out there doing whatever the hell they want with the puck. And Provorov on his own is a stud. He’s going to be in the Norris conversations at some point in his career. He has the skill to lift up the game of his defensive partner. If anybody needs the boost, it’s MacDonald. I know the pairing isn’t ideal and it will probably get switched up sometime during the season. But for right now, it makes the most sense.

Robert Hagg – Shayne Gostisbehere

Carolina Hurricanes v Philadelphia Flyers

Like I’ve mentioned before, we probably won’t see Ghost playing tomorrow night after that head injury from Sunday. But once he’s healthy, this will be the 2nd pairing the Flyers go with. At this point, everybody knows what to expect about of Ghost so we won’t talk about him too much. Robert Hagg is going to be a new name to a lot of people unless you’ve been following the Flyers’ prospect pool. When you think about all the Flyers young defensemen in the system, you immediately go right to their offense. Guys like Ghost and Provorov and Sanheim are going to terrorize goalies in the league. Hagg isn’t somebody who you should expect crazy numbers out of but he moves down the ice well and has NHL size. He’s the kind of player who will not only be a defensive safety valve for Ghost, but can also join the rush as well with how smooth he skates. The two are going to be a perfect fit for each other once they get healthy. And Hagg is also a Swedish defenseman which I think every great team needs. Lidstrom, Karlsson, Hedman, OEL, Kronwall, Hampus Lindholm. You have a Swedish defenseman on your team, you know you’re doing the right thing. And if Gostisbehere can’t go tomorrow night, hopefully Sanheim fills in that spot.

Manning/Morin/Sanheim – Radko Gudas

First of all, Sam Morin is going to become a legend in the city of Philadelphia. The man lives to do one thing and one thing only. Murder On Ice. The kid is 6’6″ and makes a living wreaking havoc all over the ice. Whether it’s with his fists or his body or whatever. He just wants to inflict as much harm as possible on the opposing team. He’ll most likely be on the team regardless of the Gostisbehere injury since he already has more than enough experience in the AHL. So with that in mind, we have Provorov – Gostisbehere – Gudas – Hagg – MacDonald – Morin – Manning with the roster spots after Sanheim gets sent back for a few weeks before getting called back up. Ron Hextall isn’t an idiot. He’s not going to keep a young guy up with the team if he’s constantly going to get healthy scratched. Which would hopefully mean that Manning and MacDonald are the ones rotating scratches. Which would also hopefully mean that Morin – Gudas is a pairing that we get to see on most nights just going out there like heat seeking missiles trying to add to their body count. You want to Make Hockey Violent Again? Send Sam Morin and Radko Gudas out on the ice at the same time and you just found yourself the next Bash Brothers.


So what should we expect out of the Flyers defensemen this year? Well something cool that we haven’t seen in years is that every pairing they throw on the ice this year should have at least one or two guys who can ball. There’s not going to be that one pairing that is a total blackhole every time they’re on the ice. With that being said, they are still going to be extremely young. 2-3 rookies. Provorov who only played 1 year. Ghost who has only played 2 years. So you should expect to see them make a few mistakes here and there. The good news is that they should all be exciting mistakes to watch.

In The Fab 5 We Trust


Goalies and predictions tomorrow.