Call him Ivan the Iron Man.
In Thursday’s matchup against New Jersey, Flyers standout Ivan Provorov became the second defenseman in NHL history to start his career by playing 300 consecutive games with the same team, according to the league.
Dan Girardi holds the record, playing in his first 330 regular-season games for the New York Rangers from 2007 to 2011. Provorov would be at 328 straight games at the end of the 2019-20 regular season, assuming he plays in all the games.
“It means a lot. I take pride in being out there every game and trying to help the team any way possible,” Provorov said.
Center Kevin Hayes, who is in his first season with the Flyers, has become an admirer of Provorov’s off-the-charts work ethic.
“You appreciate his game a lot more when you’re here,” Hayes said. "He puts the work in to make sure he’s doing everything the right way in the summers. He has a coach for pretty much everything you can think of — a running coach, a biking coach, a swimming coach, a skating coach.”
All true, Provorov said about the coaches who help him in Russia in the summer. He also has a fitness coach, he added.
“Some of the coaches I’ve been working with since I was 8 or 9 years old,” he said. “We all get together in the summer, talk it over, and figure out a full program for the amount of weeks I’m training and go from there. And they all talk on the phone or get together and see how I’m doing throughout the summer. They’ve helped me to become a pro and get ready for every season and not have any downs in my conditioning or how I’m feeling."
Provorov, 23, is averaging 24 minutes, 57 seconds of ice time per game, seventh in the NHL. He is also the second-youngest among the top seven.
“He puts time into his craft and it shows," Hayes said.
Robert Hagg, the rugged defenseman who has been playing arguably his best hockey of the season, came out of the lineup Thursday and was replaced by Shayne Gostisbehere.
Gostisbehere missed 10 games after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. The Flyers went 7-2-1 in that span.
Coach Alain Vigneault said it was a difficult decision to remove Hagg from the lineup.
“Haggs has been playing well. I talked to him this morning,” Vigneault said before the game. “He’s not happy with not playing. I expect him to not be happy about it. But Shayne is ready to go, and I want to get him in. ... Sometimes you have to look at the big picture.”
Gostisbehere was on the third pairing with veteran Justin Braun, and he quarterbacked the second power-play unit.
The surgery, he hopes, will help his game, which relies on quick lateral movement.
“Mentally, there are certain movements where I don’t have to worry about it hurting,” he said after the morning skate Thursday at the Wells Fargo Center. “I can go out there and play freely and be myself. I think that’s a big thing for me. [When] you’re not thinking of anything else but the game, it helps a lot.”
Hagg had five points and a plus-5 rating in his last 10 games. Overall, he has a goal, nine points, and a plus-7 rating in 34 games. Despite not playing in 19 games, he leads the Flyers with 97 hits.