VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Justin Braun was never paired with Ivan Provorov in any exhibition games, but they were together as the No. 1 defensive unit last Friday in the season opener against Chicago and again Wednesday in the home opener against New Jersey.
They are still trying to get in sync, but they’re making progress.
In the 4-3 win over Chicago, the two had some good and bad moments and combined for a minus-3 rating.
They were much better Wednesday in a 4-0 victory over New Jersey, and they played key roles in stopping a five-on-three power play that lasted for two minutes and turned the game in the Flyers’ favor.
After the Flyers’ final preseason game, “we started practicing together and we’re still trying to get to know each other a bit,” said Braun, 32, a veteran acquired from San Jose in the offseason. “It’s always a process with new D partners, but I think overall it’s been pretty good.”
For most of the preseason, Braun was paired with Shayne Gostisbehere, who played the first two regular-season games alongside Robert Hagg.
“It’s pretty similar,” Braun said when asked about playing next to Prororov and Gostisbehere. “Provy’s got a lot of skill. Ghost may be a little quicker, jumping around and more darty, but I think Provy’s stick and defensive position is similar to how Ghost plays. It’s not usually the style that’s a big issue; it’s usually the breakout and getting used to where the guy is going to go.”
Provorov, 22, has more freedom to join the attack, knowing Braun, a stay-at-home type, has his back. He downplayed the learning-on-the-fly aspect of playing alongside Braun.
“We’re all NHL players for a reason,” said Provorov, who is second on the team with three points. “I think everybody can play with everybody” on defense.
The Flyers, off to their first 2-0 start in eight years, will begin a three-game Western Canada trip Saturday night in Vancouver, which is 1-2 but has received solid goaltending from 6-foot-6 Jacob Markstrom (2.37 goals-against average, .922 save percentage).
Braun is familiar with Western Conference teams, having spent the first nine years of his career in San Jose.
He seems to be acclimated to living on the East Coast.
“Other than the weather, it’s pretty much the same,” he said. “So far, so good in getting adjusted to being here.”
He has observed one noticeable difference.
“They push a little bit more wine out there on the West Coast,” he said, smiling.