Flyers’ Claude Giroux and Ivan Provorov placed in COVID-19 protocols; Cam York elevated from taxi squad
Giroux leads the team with 29 points while Provorov (403 straight games played) will miss the first game of his six-year NHL career.
Six hours before puck drop against the Anaheim Ducks, the Flyers announced that they placed captain Claude Giroux, defenseman Ivan Provorov, and one staff member in COVID-19 protocols.
Giroux, who leads the team with 29 points, and Provorov will not be in the lineup against the Ducks. Giroux and Provorov join defenseman Nick Seeler and forward Jackson Cates, who were added to the COVID-19 protocol list on Monday.
Provorov has not missed a game in his six-year NHL career, appearing in 403 consecutive regular-season contests. He will see his ironman streak come to an end on Tuesday night.
“You could understand why there could be some frustrations and disappointment there,” Yeo said of Provorov’s streak before the game. “But my job, and their job, is just to make sure that the group we have ready to go is prepared. It’s disappointing for Provy but as far as we’re concerned, we’ve got a job to do tonight.”
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While the Flyers have been stretched thin at center with Sean Couturier, Derick Brassard, and Scott Laughton out for various periods of time over the last month either due to injury or COVID-19-related reasons, Giroux had slid over from wing to center for the last 10 games. Luckily for the Flyers, Laughton will make his return to the lineup, filling in for Giroux on a line with Cam Atkinson and Joel Farabee, after clearing COVID-19 protocols on Saturday.
Meanwhile, in Provorov’s place, 20-year-old defenseman Cam York was promoted to the active roster from the taxi squad to make his season debut in Anaheim, his hometown. In 21 games with the Phantoms this season, York has one goal, seven assists, and is minus-5. York will fill in for Provorov on a pairing with Justin Braun.
Additionally, the Flyers added forwards Max Willman and Gerry Mayhew to the active roster from the taxi squad. Mayhew will play on a line with Kevin Hayes and James van Riemsdyk.
The Ducks are also dealing with COVID-19-related issues as well, with four players currently in protocols — forwards Ryan Getzlaf, Trevor Zegras, Derek Grant, and Nicolas Deslauriers.
York making season debut on West Coast is ‘special’
When York arrived in the visitor’s locker room at the Honda Center on Tuesday morning prior to the Flyers’ pregame meetings and morning skate, his name wasn’t listed on the starting lineup sheet. That wasn’t a total shock to Anaheim Hills native York, who made the West Coast trip as a member of the taxi squad.
Moments later, senior director of team services Bryan Hardenbergh informed York that Provorov and Giroux were out in COVID protocols. Yeo came up to York shortly afterwards and said, “You’re in tonight, kid.”
Now, York will make his season debut in Anaheim, where he played for the Jr. Ducks as a kid.
“I want to inspire the next generation of hockey players out here,” York said before the game. “Anything I can do to do that, I’m going to do. And, you know, to be here early in my career is special. I know there’s going to be a lot of family and friends in the building tonight.”
Right after York found out that he would be in the lineup against the Ducks, he reached out to his mother, Teri, to inform her of the good news — “My mom’s always been my biggest supporter my entire career, so I know she’s really, really happy,” York said.
While York expects his parents to be in attendance at the game, he isn’t sure how many of his local friends will be able to come on short notice. Regardless, York is looking forward to playing against the team his family grew up rooting for and showing his progress since his three-game stint with the Flyers last season.
“I’ve just been trying to be consistent in my game,” York said. “Night in and night out. I feel like recently with the Phantoms, I’ve been consistent, and that’s helped me a lot, just in all areas. Not trying to overdo things, but at the same time, play my game and be offensive and be a 200-foot player.”
Highs and lows for Yandle
For interim head coach Mike Yeo, defenseman Keith Yandle’s play more than a third of the way through the season (32 games, 11 assists, minus-17) has featured highs and lows, both defensively and offensively.
Thursday night’s game against the San Jose Sharks contained examples of both. First, the not-so-good: In the second period while the Flyers were on the power play, Yandle skated out of the Flyers’ zone to recoup the puck. However, Sharks captain Logan Couture beat Yandle to it, initiating a shorthanded breakaway that led to a Sharks goal that tied the score at 1.
“There was a play in the shorthanded goal that I thought that he erred because he was erring on the side of trying to get that puck and trying to get back on offense,” Yeo said. “And obviously that goal was a big play and a tough one to give up.”
Later in the game, Yandle forced a turnover while the Sharks were in transition, leading to a Flyers two-man rush and ending in a Joel Farabee goal. Yeo also commended Yandle’s general efforts on the top power-play unit, which has posted a 23.1% efficiency rate since Yeo took over as interim head coach on Dec. 6.
Ultimately, as Yandle approaches Doug Jarvis’ 964-game ironman record (he’s currently 11 games shy of passing Jarvis), Yeo looks to see more consistency from his veteran, third-pairing defenseman going forward.
“Some of the things offensively he does, we’re still seeing those,” Yeo said. “But the defensive part of the game, we need to make sure that’s real solid. I’ve seen Yands many times this year make sure that he’s in the right position. Make sure that he’s good defensively. Make sure that he’s got a tight gap. So we need that from him every night.”
After dealing with a bout of the flu and COVID-19, Carter Hart (19 games played, .918 save percentage, 2.74 goals against average) will start in net against the Ducks. This marks Hart’s first start since Dec. 16 against the Montréal Canadiens. ... The NHL announced that the Flyers’ home game against the Detroit Red Wings on Jan. 18 is postponed. Now, the Flyers will play the New York Islanders at home on Jan. 18, after their earlier contest scheduled for Nov. 30 was postponed. The Flyers will play the Islanders three times, including a back-to-back on Jan. 17 and 18, in the month of January.