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Flyers’ postscript: Provy turns sour, Coots and Ellis are upbeat, Hart says he needs to be better

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Ivan Provorov, Philadelphia Flyers
Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov (r) was testy during a question-and-answer session with the media Saturday. Photo: Zack Hill.

Ivan Provorov was aggravated with the questions, Sean Couturier was upbeat about returning from a back injury, Ryan Ellis said his medical problems have been figured out, and Carter Hart was critical of himself.

Welcome to the Philadelphia Flyers’ closeout day Saturday at their Voorhees practice facility.

Oh, and it’s official: Keith Yandle is retiring after a memorable 16-year career that included an NHL record: 989 straight games. Defenseman Nick Seller confirmed that Yandle was hanging up his skates. Yandle declined meeting with the media.

The Flyers (25-46-11) finished last in the Metropolitan Division. They have the NHL’s fourth-worst record, and it will become the third-worst if Seattle gets a point in its season-finale Sunday afternoon in Winnipeg. Yes, the Flyers should be rooting hard for Dave Hakstol’s Kraken.

Here are some snippets from the players’ interviews Saturday:

  • Ellis, 31, the centerpiece of the Flyers’ biggest offseason move last year, played in just four games because of a pelvic injury. He said his doctors have finally figured out the “multi-layered” problem, and that he won’t need surgery. Ellis will undergo treatments and be in the gym in about a month, and he hopes to be on the ice in six weeks or so.                      The veteran defenseman said the mental strain has been tough this season. “It’s been the toughest year of my life,” he said, adding he wants to play more than anything. Now that a medical plan is finally in place, he said, he was excited for the first time in months.
  • Hart, 23, who missed the last nine games because of an undisclosed lower-body injury, said he needs to be better. He finished with a 3.16 GAA and a .905 save percentage. “I definitely felt better this year, mentally, from last year,” he said. “But at the end of the day, I still need to be a lot better. Lot of ups and downs in my season in my consistency – for myself and for our team.” He said if the Flyers were in the playoffs, he would have been healthy enough to play.
  • Provorov got testy when asked if he was returning to Russia to train, and when asked how he would evaluate his season. “No matter what I say, you guys are going to give me your own grade,” he said. “It doesn’t matter. You’re all experts in hockey, so you’re going to give me all your super-experienced grades.” The sarcasm was dripping. “I don’t think my opinion really matters to you guys.”

From here, Provorov deserves a C or C-plus for a very uneven season in which he had 31 points and a minus-20 rating.

  •  Cam Atkinson, who was named the team’s MVP, said the season was “crappy.” He said it at least six times, and added he hoped GM Chuck Fletcher made some moves this summer to improve the team. “I want to be here. I want to win here. We will turn this thing around,” he said.

 

  • Fourth-line center Nate Thomson, a potential UFA, said he wants to continue playing and that he was “still chasing that shiny mug.”
  • Couturier said he wasn’t 100 percent healthy, “but I’m getting there” after back surgery. He expects to be at full strength when the 2022-23 season rolls around. There’s a good chance that when it does, he will be named the new captain.
  • Scott Laughton said Claude Giroux is doing fine in South Florida. “He sent me a picture of him in the pool yesterday,” Laughton said, smiling. He added that Giroux was “greatly underappreciated in this city.
  • Laughton also said the Philadelphia Flyers “have to be harder to play against” next season. He said when he returned from a concussion late in the season, the “pace of play was a little quick for me.”
  • Kevin Hayes got emotional when he talked about his close friend, Yandle, retiring. Here’s the video:

  • Hayes said it will be nice going to training camp in September knowing he’s healthy, unlike this season.
  • Oskar Lindblom, cancer survivor, said he is much stronger than at this time last season, “but I feel like I have a lot more to give.”

  • Joel Farabee said it was an “honor” to play a season with the the retiring Yandle.
  • Farabee said he gets the sense he will play wing next season – he seemed happy about that – but said he was glad he could show his versatility by playing some late-season games at center.
  • Travis Konecny said he doesn’t read social media and was unaware his name has been mentioned in trade rumors. He was not happy with his season (16 goals, team-high 52 points): “For me, my season was unacceptable, and I want to come back and do more next year,” he said. He said he turned down a chance to play for Canada at the Worlds to spend time with his young son.
  • Fesity RW Zack MacEwen said he felt “the love and support from the fans all season and that he fed off the crowd’s energy during his fights. “If I get people fired up, I get fired up,” said the potential RFA, who won the fan club’s Gene Hart award for showing the most heart on the team.
  • Seeler, a UFA, said he got positive feedback from management. He hopes to remain with the Flyers.
  • Patrick Brown said “fighting a bunch of fluky injuries” was difficult and he is “blessed to have another year on my contract” and come back better.
  • Center Morgan Frost said he now feels he belongs in the NHL. He gained lots of confidence late in the season, and had four points over the last five games. Frost and right winger Owen Tippett are close friends and had good chemistry together.
  • Defenseman Cam York revealed he had a hairline fracture in his foot from blocking an Alex Ovechkin shot. He should be fine for next season.
  • Even though the season is over, defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen still wouldn’t reveal the nature of his upper-body injury. “I thought I was bulletproof.,” he said. “I guess not.” He said he was close to 100 percent.
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