The Philadelphia Flyers were able to have comfortable third periods in both games this weekend. In both games, the Flyers scored a goal in the latter stages of the second period to give them that extra breathing room heading into the final frame.
In Sunday afternoon’s win, that third goal was a result of some great work in the offensive zone by the Flyers to tire out the Sabres that were stuck on the ice. Ivan Provorov was a big part of that.
Provorov had a shift to remember leading up to the goal. Immediately after coming onto the ice he called for the puck at the point, didn’t get it, then circled back to open up the ice and entered the zone with speed. Michael Raffl hit him with a pass and he was off to the races.
The Russian defenseman had quite the journey around the offensive zone before ultimately setting up James van Riemsdyk’s goal.
Let’s first watch the clip in full before digging into the good stuff.
It was a pretty great shift all around by the fourth line and then the top line.
Provorov maneuvered around Tobias Reider with speed and carried the puck behind the net. With two Flyers and four Sabres in front, he attempted a shot after circling the net.
Carter Hutton made the save, but Raffl retrieved the loose puck to get the cycle going. Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Connor Bunnaman then did a great job to win a battle and cause a turnover. Shayne Gostisbehere picked up the loose puck and passed it across to Provorov at the point.
Provorov made a move down the wing to draw in Casey Mittelstadt and Rasmus Ristolainen before feeding van Riemsdyk for a slap shot.
The Flyers were able to complete a line change with the puck in the zone and this time it was the first line that got to the puck. Provorov eventually got the puck and passed it along to Sean Couturier before sneaking into the left circle.
Provorov retreated back to the point, played catch with Gostisbehere, skated along the blue line, and made a spin pass to Joel Farabee with Ghost ready for a one-timer. At the time of the pass van Riemsdyk was going around the back of the net to position himself in open ice and Farabee found his stick for the redirection goal.
The Flyers made it look easy, especially JVR on the redirection.
The goal displayed how well the Flyers can play in the offensive zone when they are on their game. More importantly, it showed how dynamic Provorov can be with the puck on his stick.
Provorov played a game-high 24:57 (19:52 at 5-on-5) in Sunday’s win – coincidentally, he also played 24:57 in Saturday’s win. He was on the ice for two of the Flyers’ three goals and the Flyers had a 14-7 shots on goal advantage with him on the ice. Individually, Provorov had four shot attempts (all on goal), three scoring chances, and one high-danger chance. He was credited with three hits and one blocked shot.
The verdict is still out on Provorov. Is he a future Norris winner? Is he a No. 1 defenseman? Is he a No. 1 that needs a good No. 2? Is he just a No. 2? The answer remains unclear. However, when he shows off his skills as he did on Sunday, the Flyers are just happy to have him.