Ivan Provorov was left to fend for himself without a steady defensive partner on the top pair for the Flyers this season and it showed. He had the lowest Corsi For Percentage (50.14%) of the Flyers’ regular defenseman and was barely above Robert Hagg (50.06% xGF) and Justin Braun (50.01% xGF) in Expected Goals For Percentage at 50.32%.
This season tested whether or not Provorov could carry a top pair by himself. The retirement of Matt Niskanen thrust Provorov into the spotlight and he didn’t exactly pass the test. Sure, he played 25 minutes a night and in all situations, but defense was the Flyers’ main issue this season; that starts with the top pair and Provorov.
Provorov talked about his season, the defensive struggles, the play of Cam York, and what might need to happen this offseason to improve the team for next year.
Ivan Provorov Exit Interview
On improving the defense for next season
I think [we need to play] overall better as a team. Now it’s not just the defense plays defense or forwards play forward. It’s a unit of five all over the ice. You’re in your zone, neutral zone, or offensive zone. And if you’re not good in any one of those three areas, you’re gonna have trouble. So I think we have to figure out how to play better as a unit of five. And when we do, the results are going to be a lot different. We’re going to spend less time defending, we’re gonna have the puck more, we’re gonna have more time in the o-zone overall, more chances off the rush and stuff like that. So a result of that we’re gonna be able to win more games.
What would you say was your biggest disappointment team-wise this season?
Just not making the playoffs. I mean, just coming off of last year, even though last year was disappointing, too, losing game seven in the second round. But we knew that overall, we took a step forward from a previous year. And I thought we were gonna take another step forward this year, and that didn’t happen. So I think that was the biggest disappointment this year.
How would you personally evaluate your season?
I think I had a solid season. I think overall when the team game is not there, and we’re not clicking, like I said, as a five-man unit, it’s hard for anyone to play to the best of their abilities. So I think I had a solid year, but of course, everyone wishes we did better.
Just wondering what you thought of Cam York’s game?
He’s a smart player. He skates extremely well, has the vision moves the puck well. This is where the game is going, you have to be able to skate, you have to be able to move the puck. And he’s got all the tools. For him, hopefully, he gets bigger and stronger in the summer. And, yeah, I think he’ll have a chance of sticking around for the whole year, next year.
It’s obviously not your job to comment on player acquisition, but do you think this defense needs an addition or two to this defense corps to become a high-end corps relative to the rest of the league?
I mean, you said yourself, it’s not really my job to decide if we need someone or not, I think, overall, I think this D group’s got a lot of tools and a lot of potential. We just have to figure out how to play better overall as a team defensively because like I said, I’m not saying it’s all on defense. You play as a five-man unit and if one guy’s struggling it’s going to affect everybody else. So I think overall, we have to be better consistently, consistency wise as a team, and I think that will help us improve defensively a lot.
On rebounding from the loss of Matt Niskanen
I mean, Nisky was a great player, very solid, super steady, never really made too many mistakes out there. And he played big minutes last year. So, yeah, I think there’s some opportunities for someone to step up and fill his spot and just find a way as a D-corps to play good. And, like I said, I think overall as a team we didn’t perform to the best of our abilities, and I think it affected all areas of our game, offense, defense, goaltending and everything like that.
With the chaotic schedule this year, will your offseason change at all, like when you start working out?
I’m gonna take some time off to rest, recover, recharge, and then probably at some point, and I haven’t exactly sat down and figured it out yet, but at some point in June, I’ll get it going again, and start training and preparing for the season.
Transcript via Philadelphia Flyers