Quick observations following the Flyers' 2-0 victory over the Blues Thursday night:
He’s great, but can he possibly stay healthy?
Whether it's the Eagles, the Sixers or now, the Flyers, this question applies to what is, arguably, each team's best player. The loss of Jason Peters and the elevated risk that implies to Carson Wentz , the careful management of minutes where Joel Embiid is concerned, and now what can only be described as risk overexposure when it comes to Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov.
With a slew of injuries turning the Flyers defense into a combo platter of rookies and career minor leaguers, Provorov was forced to play ancillary goaltender against St. Louis Thursday, just one day after he was on the ice for 29:51 of the Flyers 3-0 loss in Chicago. In a first period in which the Blues at one point were outshooting the Flyers 13-5, Provorov was credited with four blocked shots.
In the second period, Provorov remained on the ice for an entire Blues power play, blocking another four shots. He finished with 10 blocked shots, which has to be an all-time record for Russians playing in the NHL. He was on the ice Thursday for 27:08, making his 24-hour total one second short of 57 minutes. I'm no kinesiology major, but it seems obvious that with more blocks comes more risk. Indeed, his partner Andrew MacDonald hit the injured list after blocking a shot about his knee.
Shoot the puck, Jake
Jake Voracek isn't the first player to be unselfish to a fault due to a lack of confidence in his shot. But the examples are becoming more painful to watch. Last night, with just under nine minutes remaining in the first period, Voracek took a feed down the right side of the ice, got St. Louis D-mam Colton Poroyko off his feet with a fake, then inexplicably opted not to shoot but try a pass through traffic to the other side of the ice. It was intercepted.
Voracek was of course integral in the Flyers taking a 1-0 lead with a by creating a screen of Jake Allen's vision for Brandon Manning's second period goal. But Voracek's reluctance to shoot is becoming an issue. He had no shots on goal in last night's game after registering two shots (and a minus-2) in Wednesday's 3-0 loss to Chicago. Jake even missed an empty net in the final minutes.
Hakstol gets one!
Nice to see the coach reverse a no-goal call with a challenge gain after the disaster in Nashville and the screwed-up ending in Ottawa. This one seemed obvious, but then, again, so did Couturier's would-be tying goal in Ottawa.
Schenn hit was a penalty…
But c'mon, no more than that. Brayden Schenn's side-swipe that came a moment or two after Sean Couturier lost control of the puck. It was not an intentional hit to the head or an attempt to blind-side him. In fact, had he not lost the puck, it's likely Couturier's head would have been a few inches higher and not looking back to the path of the puck. Yes, it would have been an awful loss if Couturier is out for awhile, especially given the epidemic of injuries that have hit this team. But it's hockey.
Neuvirth’s margin of error… or lack of one
The Flyers have now played five games with Michal Neuvirth in the net and over four of them he has allowed a total of four goals. Incredibly, he is 2-2 in those games. He was excellent against Los Angeles and Nashville and Florida. He was out of his mind last night. He and Provorov are THE reason they got two points Thursday night.