Iron Man gets dinged
Ivan Provorov played in all 82 games last season. He has played in the first 34 this season. He is averaging nearly 26 minutes of ice time per game, so if you opened your window immediately after Dylan Larkin’s slapshot caught the exposed wrist of Provorov’s left hand during a 4-minute power play early in the second period of Wednesday’s 4-3 Flyers victory, you probably could have heard a collective groan throughout the Delaware Valley.
Provorov winced, later iced the wrist and didn’t miss a shift. He blocked three shots, increasing his team-leading total to 74. Culpable on Detroit’s third goal, he later started the rush that led to Sean Couturier’s go-ahead goal, spinning away in his defensive zone and feeding Giroux up ice.
Kudos to referee Kelly Sutherland for his handling of a penalty call on Jake Voracek late in the game. After referee Kyle Rehman flagged Voracek for an elbow on Andreas Athanasiou in what looked like a clean play toward the puck along the back boards, Sutherland corralled his colleague, talked to him, and a matching embellishment penalty was issued, keeping the Flyers from having to kill off an unfair power play to end the game.
Getting his priorities straight
When Robert Hagg blasted his first NHL goal past Jimmy Howard to tie the game at 3 in the second period, Wayne Simmonds skated from his perch on front of the net as if the Swedish rookie had stolen his wallet.
Halfway to where Hagg stood near the blueline, Simmonds veered back to the net just as violently. The puck: The momento every hockey playing kid dreams of.
The way you draw it up
You can’t execute on the power play any cleaner than the Flyers first unit did in tying the game at 2. Claude Giroux laced a clean along the ice pass to Jake Voracek who one-timed a tape-to-tape pass to Wayne Simmonds, parked at the far crease. Simmonds pushed it into the empty net. Beautiful.
Bad blade, good shaft
The Flyers missed a golden opportunity halfway through the first period when Anthony Manthua broke the blade of his stick trying to pass from behind his net broke as he tried to pass the puck from behind his net and the puck landed at Sean Couturier’s feet.
Couturier might have elected to shoot right away had he realized Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard had lost control of his stick. Instead he teed it up for Wayne Simmonds, whose shot was deflected onto the stick of Claude Giroux, who shot, collected the rebound, and attempted to pass back across the slot to Couturier, waiting alone.
The puck though was slowed by Manthua’s broken shaft, which had been tossed in disgust a few frantic moments before. Slow enough to allow Trevor Daley to slide over and keep it out of the net.
Name that roster
Soon after the Flyers surprisingly pulled the second spot in the NHL Entry draft last spring, Nolan Patrick was the talk of the town. Projected not to just make the team but to star for it, Patrick was slotted as the second-line center when the season began amid great expectations.
Whether due to the lingering affects of extensive surgery this summer to repair a new core muscle injury and redress a previous one, a concussion suffered earlier this season, or simply the adjustment to the bigger, stronger play of the NHL, Patrick, with has not yet delivered on those expectations.
One clear indication: Before Wednesday night’s game against Detroit, the Game Day production crew ran a contest in the aisles of the stands entitled “Name That Roster”. Fans simply needed to be the first to name a player to win a prize. Patrick was named well into the game, and only after Mark Alt had been named.
More Nolan Patrick
On Tuesday, Flyers coach Dave Hakstol addressed the 19-year-old center’s rough start this way: “He’s working through it. Sometimes you have to create your own time and space by moving your feet. The play can close in pretty quickly on you if you’re stationary, or you’re not moving, not going north. And I think that’s an adjustment every young player makes. Especially Nolan as a centerman. He’s very smart. He knows what’s around him. There are times where he gets the puck in the middle of the ice and he needs to work at a little higher pace in order to create that extra half-second or second that he needs to make the next play.”
Patrick’s pace has picked up noticeably over the last few games, and particularly Wednesday night. Centering a line with Jordan Weal and Dale Weise, Patrick cleanly won an offensive zone faceoff that directly led to the Flyers first goal. Weise collected a Radko Gudas’ slapshot and spun behind the Detroit net to slip it past Howard.
Said Weise: “It was a good face-off by Patty. He’s really been digging in the past couple of games here. He’s really been getting better in the circle. It was a pretty clean win by him.”