Four-for-Four: The Spring Cleaning Edition

5 of 5



Once upon a time, during the 2011-2012 playoffs, Claude Giroux captured the hearts of Philadelphia when he flattened Sidney Crosby in the opening moments of the Flyers game 6 win over Pittsburgh in the playoffs. Crosby, who has tormented the Flyers since entering the league, has served as the poster boy for Flyers-Penguins hate and seeing Giroux lower the boom on him immediately vaulted the fiery forward to the top of the ‘must be a fan of’ list. Fast-forward almost two years and Giroux is entering another stratosphere among Flyer greats. In the first of two games, both wins, over the hated Penguins Giroux took aim at Crosby’s Russian running mate, Evgeni Malkin. The results were just as satisfying.

All hail Captain Claude.

THE WOLF OF BROAD STREET As much as I wish I could take credit for the incredible nickname suggested to Flyers reporter Sam Carchidi for Sean Couturier, I cannot.

Couturier is turning into the most valuable Flyers not named Giroux and his work against some of the league’s top players is a treat to watch. Every game, he seems to gain more confidence on offense and he has become the NHL’s premiere penalty-killer alongside his mate Matt Read. While his play is something to marvel at, especially for hockey nerds like myself, it is his blossoming mane of red facial hair that is transforming the 21-year old into a cult hero in the city. The @NHLFlyers Twitter account, an excellent source of supplementary material for following the team, recently tweeted out a graphic going into the correlation between ‘Coots’ success and his glorious beard. If he continues to play like this, Couturier will need to take out an insurance policy on that majestic mane of his.

THE GHOST WITH THE MOST One of the biggest criticisms about how the Flyers have gone about their business in the past few decades is their inability to develop top-end defenseman. With the drafting of Sam Morin and Robert Hagg in last year’s draft to supplement a budding group of blue-liners at various sub-NHL levels, that narrative appears to be changing. Arguably the most intriguing of the future Flyers defensemen is Union College’s Shayne Gostisbehere. The 2012 3rd round pick from Florida, standing 5’11” and weighing in at 170 pounds, was recently named a finalist for the prestigious Hobey Baker Award given to NCAA hockey’s best player. Gostisbehere almost certainly will not win the award, as Boston College’s Johnny Gaudreau has been the odds-on-favorite almost all season. That said, Gostisbehere is the only defenseman among the 10 finalists and will most likely finish in the top three in voting. The soon-to-be 21 year old is the quintessential offensive defenseman. He has the ability to single-handedly lead a breakout, captain a power play, and uncork a heavy slap shot for his size. Gostisbehere was also a member of the gold-medal winning USA Junior team in 2012 on a defense corps that featured current NHL players Seth Jones and Jacob Trouba. The Flyers prospect more than held his own and even stood out among the star-studded group. As Gostisbehere dominates on the college level, many wonder how he will translate to the NHL at his size. A common comparison is Boston Bruins D-man Torey Krug, though it is unfair to project him to a potential rookie of the year candidate. Friday afternoon, GM Paul Holmgren discussed a myriad of topics, including the future of his defensive prospect.

A lot of people are really excited about ‘Ghost’s’ potential whenever he does reach the pro level. Flyers fans may get a sneak peak if Union makes the Frozen Four, being held in Philadelphia in April.