Sophomore Slump, One Year Deferred?

 

Ivan Provorov has proven to be the Flyers’ saving grace on the blueline for the last two seasons. His strong work ethic, great positioning, smart play with the puck, and impressive stamina has all contributed to his emergence as the number one defenseman in Philadelphia.  So far in 2018, fans have been subjected to what seems like lackluster play from the promising young defenseman.

The Flyers are at the 24-game mark, and Provorov has 9 points (2G 7A) in that span. He has an average of 25:16 time on ice this season, enough to be ranked ninth among all skaters. It has been obvious the young blueliner has been given a heavier workload this season and it shows, at least by the eye test. Provorov seems slower and less sure of himself. From an outsider’s perspective, his slowness does not seem to be a physical problem, but a mental one. Questionable passes, fumbled pucks at the blue line, and an uncharacteristic issue with breaking the puck out of the defensive zone. Of course this is all speculation, but the confident play making Provy we are used to seeing show up every night now only shows up in flashes, one or two games at a time.

Over the first 24 games of Provorov’s rookie season, he was sitting at 9 points. He would end the season with 30 points. Even last season, where he had 41 points and tied for the defenseman goal scoring lead with 17 goals, Provorov had just 13 points through 24 games. Of course Flyer fans and Provorov himself would like to see a little more in terms of offensive production, but that could be said of the rest of the team as well. Truth be told, aside from the top line and Robert Hagg (who leads the Flyers in hits, haven’t you heard?), the entire team has underwhelmed. I believe it is very likely that Provy is both a cause and a victim of the recent failures of the team.

While it hurts to have your stud defenseman struggling, it is important to remember that Provorov is not a robot. He is a 21-year-old who will inevitably experience growing pains as he receives greater responsibilities and a heavier workload. His production, while underwhelming, isn’t far off from past seasons. His meager start this season looks to be more of a result of an unconfident team, and he is just one of the many unconfident pieces of that team.  Bad play or bad luck, Provorov has proven he has what it takes to be a number one defenseman. Having a less than ideal start to the season does not negate what he has done and what we know he is capable of.

 

By: Garrett Parker @Garrett_BP

Photo credit: fastphillysports.com

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