The idea of chemistry in hockey is something that cannot be easily contributed to anything or quantified in any particular way. Some players just work better together than others and it might not even be a skill level thing; just a general and innate understanding of what the other dude is going to do with the puck, without the puck, on the forecheck, in all three zones — it’s just a thing.
For the Philadelphia Flyers’ newest top-pairing defenseman Ryan Ellis, he views chemistry as being best friends off the ice, and when talking about his new partner Ivan Provorov, he’s attempting to do exactly that.
“We’re trying to get to know each other on and off the ice as much as possible,” Ellis said on Sunday. “Honestly, I’m kind of just following him around. We’re working out together, riding the bike together and obviously, skating together. I just want to get to know him as a person and a player as much as possible and before game one. I think that chemistry goes a long way when you’re friends and buddies off the ice. I think it promotes good things on the ice.”
For the most recent seasons as a member of the Nashville Predators, Ellis was essentially super-glued to the right side Roman Josi on the ice. I would need to actually do research on the Predators to examine whether or not that partnership extended to off-ice friendship, but that might be better suited to someone with multiple Tumblr accounts.
The one thing that is undeniable is that the top pairing for the Preds that involved Ellis was one of the best in the whole damn league at controlling play. So maybe he has a thing here.
As he tries to make that connection with the Flyers top blueliner, there are a couple tactics that he pulls out to try and build upon the foundation of kinship.
“Provy is a beast in the gym, so I kind of just follow him around,” the 30-year-old said. “I just want to get as big as Provy and do my thing with him. He loves the game. I didn’t think that anyone loved it more than I did, but he’s right up there. He’s always here early. We always get here at the same time. Like I said, we just follow each other around and try to do our best to get to know each other.”
That simply sounds like another budding friendship on this damn Flyers team. We have plenty of characters, but absolutely dominating opposing players (potentially) and being online fodder for the social media managers, is too perfect to handle. Especially coming out of such a dreadful season that we all experienced — it can be pure joy.
It isn’t just getting along with his defensive partner, but according to head coach Alain Vigneault, Ellis has been taking a quasi leadership role in the defense and when asked about it on Sunday, the bearded blueliner wanted to make it clear that communication is key.
“I think honestly, it’s about getting everyone on the same page on the ice and I’m also learning a new system too,” he said. “I’m out there asking questions and if I see something that I thought was wrong, I’ll bring it up. Sometimes I’ll get taught and sometimes I’ll try to teach. Honestly, the game is a lot easier when everyone knows what the next guy is going to do. I try to be vocal, one on the ice but two with understanding and making sure that everyone understands what’s happening out there.”
Music to the ears of every single Flyers fan that has been left wandering around, searching for someone to provide some sort of backbone to this team. Quotes like this are easy to find in this damn sport, but something about it just leaves tiny tingly shocks on the surface of my skin. As if I have some small part of brain that simply shoots out dopamine whenever a player for my favorite hockey team talks about intangibles and working with his teammates.
It might be something that more savvy people than myself scoff at, but having a dude that is willing just scream his fucking head off at the back of your team, and always wants to communicate, is so underrated and appreciated. Especially when he’s actually really good.
I just hope that we get a Ryan and Ivan friendship update in a couple months.