Provorov’s preparation paying off in key moments

Ivan Provorov

During the early stages of the pandemic, some players spent their time competing in video games or watching Netflix.

A few, like Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov, found some private ice, in his case near Wilkes-Barre where he once played junior hockey.

And not for an hour or so either. Multiple hours. Alone. Just working on shooting, stick handling and skating.

That’s not unusual for the 23-year-old Provorov because he adheres to a similar schedule basically year-round. His workout regimen is legendary. . .sort of a young Jaromir Jagr.

That sort of preparation is paying off now.

Provorov was in position to fire the shot which Scott Laughton tipped in to win Game 5 in overtime. In Game 6, Provorov didn’t need a deflection to score the winner at 15:03 of double-overtime, the third longest game in Flyers’ history.

It helps to have that sort of weapon in your arsenal when you face a Game 7 on Saturday night.

“He (Provorov) is a machine,’’ Kevin Hayes said during a Zoom call from Toronto on Friday. “Obviously everybody knows that. I saw him after the game. You can tell that he has played a long time. He’s a big part of our team. He’s playing as our No. 1 defenseman. He’s real solid for us. He came through in a clutch time. That’s all you can ask for.’’

The numbers from Game 6 were staggering: 52 shifts, 38 minutes and 15 seconds of ice time and a plus-3. Maybe the guys at NHL.com who didn’t put him on their list of top 20 NHL defensemen should take a look at those.

>Raffl comes through again

What more can be said about Michael Raffl?

He comes off the bench yet again and scores a big goal in Game 6. The guy can play any line and shows no sign of slowing down at 31.

He’s scored four goals in eight games. You can’t just call him a utility player with those kinds of numbers.

Look for him to have a prominent role, including the penalty kill, in Game 7.

“Raffy last night was a real force on the ice, doing the right things in the defensive zone and getting in lanes,’’ Coach Alain Vigneault said. “Offensively, he scores that goal because he’s in front of the net.

“We score the winner because he’s in front of the net. That’s where you score the goals in playoff hockey. We need him to continue to play well.’’

>Lindblom fine after lengthy effort

Naturally, after Oskar Lindblom played 25 shifts and 17.5 minutes in Game 6 there were question about how he would feel on Friday morning and whether he could come back for Game 7 on Saturday night.

Given Lindblom hadn’t played a game in nine months, it seemed like a tall order.

Vigneault said OL looked fine and should be ready to go.

“Yesterday obviously was his first game and I tried to talk to him before sending him out every shift to make sure he was feeling well,’’ Vigneault disclosed.

“Last night before, I talked to him about, ‘Oskar, we’re going to keep your shift short and you’re going to be fine. I’ll talk to you before you go out.’ His first shift, I think he got caught out there because I think they had possession of the puck for a minute and something. Not exactly the way I had planned it out, but things happen.’’

Lindblom showed no ill-effects from the lengthy performance.

“After talking to him, he was fine,’’ Vigneault said. “We’re going to continue to communicate and see how he feels. I know after the game last night, he was excited. I just saw him a little while ago at breakfast, seemed fine. We’ll see what happens here in the next 24 hours. Hopefully he can continue to play, get his game to where it was before he couldn’t play anymore and help our team win some more games.’’

>Giroux a faceoff machine

With Sean Couturier out for the Game 6 double-overtime contest, Claude Giroux spent more time taking faceoffs. He actually was engaged in 39 of them and won 24. He also played 31 minutes, about 10 more than a normal game.

Vigneault recognized the effort.

“Top players got to be your best and they’ve got to come through for you,’’ he said. “Tomorrow night, we have a Game 7 in front of us.  We know we’re going to have to play our best game of the series.’’

About Wayne Fish 1372 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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