Egor Zamula’s return to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms really had nothing to do with his recent two-game debut performance with the Flyers.
As coach Alain Vigneault explained during a pre-game media Zoom call before Saturday night’s Flyers-Devils game at the Wells Fargo Center, the move was basically a logistical one.
The young Russian defenseman had been called up on an emergency basis after regular defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere went down for a week with a mild knee sprain.
Gostisbehere returned to the lineup Saturday night so the Flyers moved Zamula back to Allentown where he’s bound to get a bunch of playing time.
It might be a reach to draw comparisons to his countryman, Ivan Provorov, but given the circumstances of another missed playoff season, it’s not out of the question there could be an opening for Zamula sometime next season.
“I think he’s done well,’’ Provorov said. “I think he played solid, he really didn’t make too many mistakes. It’s definitely an adjustment for him but I think he’s done well. He had a few opportunities to score and break up a few plays so I think he did well for the first two games.’’
Provorov could empathize with any jitters or over-excitement Zamula might have experienced in those first couple games. Everyone has to go through that challenge at some point.
“It seems like it (his first game back in 2016-17) was so long ago,’’ Provorov said. “Also, at the same time, it almost seems like yesterday.
“I remember my first game in L.A., how exciting that was. Just going back in time, dreaming when you were a little kid, making it to the NHL and playing your first game. It’s an exciting time and I’m glad I was able to see ‘Big E’ and some other guys play their first games this year and enjoy the moment.’’
Some people believe it takes NHL defensemen as much as 100 games to feel comfortable at that level.
Provorov said it took him only about 15-20.
“My biggest adjustment was you weren’t able to make very single play in the NHL,’’ Provorov said. “In junior, I was able to hang onto the puck as long as I wanted to. Never dumpled it in.
“Sometimes in the NHL you have to do that. Chip it out and regroup.’’
>Sandstrom playing well, but NHL debut may wait
Flyers goaltending prospect Felix Sandstrom has been performing well for the Phantoms and a question was raised whether Sandstrom might make his NHL debut in one of Philadelphia’s final six games.
Vigneault said he’s probably going to go the rest of the way with Brian Elliott and Alex Lyon, possibly because Sandstrom is just getting his first taste of North American professional hockey upon coming out of Sweden.
“Felix just has a small sample size in the American League,’’ Vigneault said. “He’s played well the last two games. I thinking it’s going to be Brian and Alex but things are always evolving. So you never know.’’
>Provorov takes ironman streak somewhat in stride
It’s become almost old hat Provorov never misses a game. His ironman streak is at 365 games and counting. The team record is 484. Is it a source of pride for him?
“I want to be out there, I want to help the team,’’ said Provorov, who is also among the NHL leaders for ice time, both defense and overall. “I take pride in that, being able to go out there every game, compete and help the team win.’’
For Saturday night’s game, Carsen Twarynski and Jackson Cates came out of the lineup while Kevin Hayes and Nicolas Aube-Kubel returned.