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Unlike Alex Ovechkin, Flyers’ Ivan Provorov mum on Russia/Ukraine situation



Ivan Provorov, Philadelphia Flyers
Defenseman Ivan Provorov, 25, and the Philadelphia Flyers will face the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center.

Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin, a Russian, made lots of comments last week about his homeland’s invasion of Ukraine.

Perhaps Ovechkin felt obligated to make a statement because he has been a strong supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the past.

“Please, no more war. It doesn’t matter who is in the war — Russia, Ukraine, different countries — we have to live in peace,” Ovechkin said.

He said the war was “not something I can control. It’s not in my hands. I hope it’s going to end soon and there’s peace in both countries.”

Ovechkin said it was a “hard situation” and that he had “lots of friends in Russia and Ukraine.”

Unlike Ovechkin, fellow Russian Ivan Provorov of the Philadelphia Flyers declined commenting on the situation after practice Friday in Voorhees.

No politics

“I’m not here to talk about politics. I’m here to talk about hockey,” Provorov said when asked how difficult it was to keep his mind on the game with all that’s going on between Russia, where his parents are believed to still live, and Ukraine.

Another reporter, started to ask Provorov about Ovechkin’s comments. Provorov interrupted him.

“If you guys have any hockey questions, you can ask me that,” he said. “l’m not here to discuss politics with you. My opinion is none of your guys’ business.”

There are 41 Russians playing in the NHL.

“Most of them are in a tough spot because they can’t publicly speak,” agent Daniel Milstein, who represents more than two dozen Russian players, told the Washington Post. “Some of them are concerned for the well-being of their family members who are still at home.”

He said some of his clients have been receiving death threats and being called Nazis. Milstein is not listed as Provorov’s agent.

On the ice, Provorov is at a low point.

The Philadelphia Flyers’ 25-year-old year-old defenseman has one goal over his last 19 games, and his turnovers lately have been glaring and costly — not something you’d expect from someone in his sixth full season in the NHL. He had a critical turnover that led to the tying goal late in Thursday’s 5-4 loss to Minnesota.

After the game, interim coach Mike Yeo said Provorov “is a better player than he showed tonight, no question.”

“I think, the last few games, we really haven’t been on the same page,” Provorov said of the players  on the ice and their problems in the neutral zone and getting out of their defensive end. “I think right now the picture of the game maybe at times looks different for everyone in their own head. So I think it’s more of not being on the same page and not seeing things the same way than guys playing bad or making mistakes. I think it’s more of miscommunication and misunderstanding.”

Provorov has a minus-11 rating — he was plus-11 when he played with Matt Niskanen in 2019-20 — and he has a team-worst minus-47 differential between giveaways (59) and takeaways (12).

So what can he and his teammates try to accomplish in the season’s final 28 games?

“Obviously, we’ve got to do better. We have find a way to get on the same page,” said Provorov, whose team, which sits at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division,  has lost 21 of its last 24 games. “At times it means simplify the game. We just have to find a way to accept it.”

Provorov is excited to get center Kevin Hayes back in the lineup Saturday afternoon against visiting Chicago.

Getting another center back, “makes a difference,” Provorov said. “He controls the puck really well, creates a lot offensively. He means a lot to our team.”

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