Ivan Provorov's uneven play in the first three weeks does not bother Flyers management or his teammates.
It's all part of the learning process, they say, aware that the 19-year-old defenseman is making the gargantuan jump from juniors, where he was plus-64 last season, to the NHL.
Provorov was minus-8 Wednesday heading into the game against visiting Detroit. On the plus side: He had five assists and was second on the team with 15 blocked shots.
"With the speed of the game the way it is now, coming in as a young D is completely different than junior - and the way he's handled it has been unbelievable," right winger Wayne Simmonds said before Wednesday's game. "Obviously, you have ups and downs, but I think with Provy, he's wise beyond his years. He has a composure level I haven't seen from a 19-year-old defenseman since I played with Drew Doughty when I was back in L.A. To have that calmness to your game is pretty impressive for a 19-year-old."
Yes, the Flyers would take it if Provorov turned into a Doughty, the Norris Trophy winner as the NHL's top defenseman last season. Doughty turned 19 in his first season in 2008-09 and was minus-17 that year.
"He's going to be a heck of a player," Simmonds said of Provorov. "He is a heck of a player."
Provorov was given a vote of confidence Tuesday by general manager Ron Hextall, who said people need to remember that Provorov is just 19 and probably playing the most difficult position for a young player.
"I really like the way he's bounced back and has been a factor for our team," he said.
Provorov, a quiet sort, appreciated the comments. "It's great to hear," he said. "I'm trying to get better as all the games move on. There's no limit. You can get better and better no matter how old you are."
After being with his wife at the hospital for most of Tuesday as she delivered their second child, a girl, Larkin, Chris VandeVelde was a tired but excited player as he took part in Wednesday's morning skate. He was in the lineup against Detroit.
"I guess I looked at the Red Wings' roster," he kidded about his daughter's name, referring to Dylan Larkin.
Michael Raffl might return to the lineup Thursday in Brooklyn, where the Flyers face the Islanders and play their fourth set of back-to-back games in the season's first 20 days. . . . Michael Del Zotto is expected to return Saturday in Montreal. . . . The players wore HFC decals on their helmets Wednesday on Hockey Fights Cancer Night; they will wear them all month.