Provorov looks poised to take his game to next level

Ivan Provorov

There have been some great defensemen to pass through the doors of the Flyers franchise in its 50-plus years.

Mark Howe, Eric Desjardins, Kimmo Timonen and Jimmy Watson are just a few of the names that come to mind.

Each of those players could perform at both ends of the ice, including special teams.

Some are ready to predict current fourth-year defenseman Ivan Provorov will join that illustrious list someday because a lot of the signs are there to suggest it could very well happen.

What’s not to like?

He hasn’t missed a game since he joined the NHL, a team record streak (247 games) which offers no indication of ending.

He continues to lead the Flyers in ice time, night after night, often between 25 and 30 minutes, and seldom looks worn down.

And he thinks the game so well that when he makes a mistake or two, as he did the other night in the Flyers’ 4-3 season-opening win over Chicago in Prague, it’s considered an unusual event.

Now secure with a new six-year, 40.5-million contract, the 22-year-old Russian appears to be ready to take his game to the next level.

In the Global Series game, he was paired with veteran Justin Braun and having a partner with that kind of experience can only help with his progress.

“Real good player, dedicated,’’ observes coach Alain Vigneault, who’s getting his first inside look at Provorov after years of working against him. “Hard worker, really wants to become the best player he can be.

“He’s doing everything he can to reach that level. He’s extremely competitive.’’

Judging by his comments, Provorov might be able to flourish under Vigneault’s “in your face’’ approach to defense.

“There’s a new coaching staff, new players (this year) that have definitely brought us some positive energy,’’ Provorov said.

“I like the system that we’re playing now. It’s a little more ‘up-tight,’ closer. I think it benefits our team because we can skate and put pressure on teams sooner.’’

If the Flyers enjoy a successful season, look for Provorov to be at the center of it all. Just ask some of those great aforementioned defensemen, including Hall of Famer Howe who is now a head scout for Detroit, what they think.

>Short shots

After three days off skates to recover from the Global Series game in Prague, the Flyers will return to practice on Tuesday as they get ready for Wednesday’s home game against New Jersey. Hopefully for the players, they’re readjusted to U.S. time after spending a week in Europe with a six-hour clock difference.

Also, this will be the Flyers’ first look at ex-teammate Wayne Simmonds in a Devils uniform. Simmonds was traded to Nashville last February, then signed a one-year, $5-million contract with New Jersey.

One person who is probably a bit relieved to have the trip to Prague over with is Jake Voracek. While it was nice to have his family and about 70 “close’’ friends at the game in his native Czech Republic, you could tell he was getting a bit weary from answering the same questions over and over again. Back home, he can get back to concentrating on his game again.

What happened to the new “everyone must wear a helmet’’ rule for pre-game warm-ups? The other night, at least four Flyers were seen without headwear. Maybe it only applies to North American ice surfaces.

Scott Laughton says the Flyers have taken a liking to Vigneault’s way of treating his players. “The coaches have been pretty fair with us,’’ he says. “I think AV’s been awesome. He holds players accountable, he lets you know when you’re doing something wrong. That’s how it should be. He pushes you to become the best player you can be.’’

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About Wayne Fish 2418 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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