Flyers general manager Ron Hextall gave Ivan Provorov a vote of confidence Tuesday.

The 19-year-old defenseman has gone through the expected growing pains in the season's first three weeks; he has five assists and a minus-8 rating in 10 games.

"Ivan's 19 years old, and I think sometimes it's easy to forget with young players," Hextall said after Tuesday's practice in Voorhees. "We've talked about it with Coots (Sean Couturier) for the last three or four years, right? Coots was still a young player two years ago and everybody wanted him to kind of step up and drive the bus here."

Patience is required, Hextall said.

"Ivan is 19 years old and he's playing, if not the most difficult position, certainly the second-most difficult position to play as a young player," he said. "He's done a really good job. Has he had his (bad) moments? Of course, just like everyone else on our team. But I really like the way he's bounced back and has been a factor for our team."

Provorov is second on the team with 15 blocks and sixth with 14 hits.

The Flyers have allowed 3.8 goals per game, which is 29th in the 30-team NHL.

Hextall called the team's 4-5-1 start "mediocre."

"I think we can be better. We've let some points slide away," said Hextall, whose defense should get a lift when Michael Del Zotto returns to the lineup from a knee injury; he is expected to return Saturday. "Our defensive blunders have hurt us, but we've had a tough schedule, too. That certainly plays a part in it."

The Flyers are in a stretch in which they start the season with 13 games in 23 nights, including four sets of back-to-back games.

"There are soft points of the schedule and hard points -- and everybody goes through them," Hextall said. "We need to get through it and deal with it."