After going minus-9 across his first six games in the NHL, Ronnie Attard continued to show up with a smile and managed to rebound to be plus-7 over his next seven games.

Plus/minus stats only tell part of the story, but interim coach Mike Yeo’s evaluation also has Attard taking a big step in his performance recently. Yeo said it can be harder for defensemen to adjust to the NHL level than forwards, which may explain why it seems like rookies Noah Cates and Bobby Brink, also making their NHL debuts of late, made a bigger impact faster.

When Attard joined the Flyers, he was doing well with details like his stick work, but he wasn’t being physical enough. Stick checking is important, Yeo said, but at the NHL level, it has to be paired with something more.

“If you’re just stick checking around the ice, then there’s time where you’re going to miss the puck and you’ll also miss the man at that point if that’s all you’re relying on,” Yeo said.

Since the 6-foot-3, 208-pound Attard has figured out how to step up his physicality to the NHL level, where players are as big or bigger than him, he’s started to kill plays quicker and get the team out of the defensive zone. With less time spent in the defensive zone, Attard has had more opportunities to show off what he brings on offense, and Yeo has liked how well he’s kept things in front of him without forcing the issue with his shot.

Attard was rewarded for his work when the Flyers teamed him with Ivan Provorov on the top pairing.

“He’s a very special player, so it’s a great opportunity for me and just trying to learn what I can from him and build off of that,” Attard said.

Provorov has been helpful, and Attard has tried to emulate the veteran’s approach and the way he works. When they took the ice together against the Canadiens in Montréal, Attard finished plus-four. He earned another chance to play with Provorov on Sunday.

“He plays hard, sees the ice well, and he’s got a great shot,” Provorov said. “So, so far, he’s been doing pretty good learning and getting better with every game.”

The Flyers have three games left in the season after facing Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon, which means Attard has four more games before he has to prepare to fight for a spot in training camp heading into next season. Attard said he recognizes just how great an opportunity it is for him to be able to play these minutes before he starts his offseason training, and he’s trying to make the most of it.

Sunday’s game provided an especially “tough test” for the defenseman as he played against elite players like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

“There’s really only one way to handle it is you have to go out and play confident, play aggressive,” Yeo said. “If you go out there scared of making a mistake and scared of playing, that’s where they’re going to burn you.”

Yeo wants to see Attard and the other young players go out and play smart with a focus on the little details; either way, he thinks they’ll come out better by taking on the challenge.

Battle of Pennsylvania

Ahead of the final Flyers-Penguins game of 2021-22, the Pens’ Brian Boyle and Flyer Kevin Hayes teamed up and held a raffle to raise money for the 11Fund. The foundation is named after Hayes’ late brother and former Wilkes-Barre Penguin, Jimmy Hayes, with whom Boyle was friends.

The two players put up two tickets to the game that were raffled off. The winner also received signed jerseys from each player and will get to participate in a meet-and-greet after the game.

The money from the raffle helps the 11Fund raise funds for scholarships for underprivileged children at Saint John Paul School in Dorchester, Mass., where Jimmy, Kevin, and their three sisters were students.

Breakaways

Martin Jones started in net against Pittsburgh’s Louis Domingue. ... Yeo emphasized that the Penguins are “rolling” right now as theyre playing for a good playoff seed. ... Linus Högberg made his NHL debut in Montréal on Thursday. His parents were in attendance on Sunday at the Wells Fargo Center for his home debut.