Pittsburgh Penguins

Ivan Provorov played Game 6 with a Grade 3 AC separation

Ivan Provorov played Game 6 with a Grade 3 AC separation

VOORHEES, N.J. — Ivan Provorov revealed Wednesday he played his final postseason game with a Grade 3 AC separation — an injury in which the collarbone separates from the shoulder blade.

Provorov will not require surgery but will need eight weeks to properly heal. The Flyers’ No. 1 defenseman was given medical clearance to play and was injected with a number of pain-numbing shots prior to Game 6, but ultimately the severity of the injury was too much to overcome.

“It was really frustrating going down in the third period, where I was starting to lose the feeling in my arm,” Provorov said. “I lost the puck a bunch of times and turned it over. As a competitor, it’s hard not to be out there and not try to do everything to help the team win.”

Provorov’s injury is the same Grade 3 separation that Redskins tight end Jordan Reed suffered in 2016. Reed sat out two weeks of the regular season before returning to action against the Eagles. Provorov was back on the ice two days after his injury.

As physically impaired as he was, Provorov was just as visibly emotional on the bench when it was inevitable the Flyers would be eliminated.

“Yeah, it definitely still hurts,” Provorov said. “I hate losing, what can I say.

“I think we can come back strong next year and keep growing as a team, and try and become a better team than we were this year and do better in the playoffs.”

Provorov increased his point total from 30 in his rookie season to 41 during his sophomore campaign, while nearly tripling his goal production from six goals to 17, as well as drastically improving his plus/minus rating from a minus-6 to a plus-17.

“I think I had a pretty good year," Provorov said. "Three, four or five games this year where I didn’t play like myself. It wasn’t because I wasn’t mentally prepared or did anything like that. Sometimes it happens. I think I’ve improved since last year and I’m a better player than I was a year ago and a better player now than I was at the start of the year.”

Provorov’s durability and resiliency have already set him apart. He has yet to miss a game in his two-year Flyers career and is the current franchise record holder with 164 consecutive games to start a career.

Provorov’s injury will not derail his rigorous offseason conditioning program that he’ll start in July. 

He’ll also be entering the final season of his three-year entry-level contract. The Flyers will have the option of extending Provorov’s contract starting this summer.

Playing through pain, Provorov and Couturier give Flyers all they've got

Playing through pain, Provorov and Couturier give Flyers all they've got

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You could see the tears that had formed in Ivan Provorov’s eyes.

Whether it was the product of elimination, a turnover that led to the Penguins' go-ahead goal, the sheer emotion of playing on a shoulder that may need offseason surgery or the tribulations of a six-month journey, no 21-year-old kid can be expected to overcome these levels of distress and anguish.

“I did everything I could. The third period didn’t go as well as I wanted to. I turned the puck over a couple of times and it turned to goals and it cost us the game,” Provorov said while holding back emotions. “As long as my arm was attached, I was playing.”

How Provorov mustered up the strength to play 20 and a half minutes Sunday in his final game of the season, an 8-5 loss to the Penguins, probably defied medical logic. His left shoulder was so battered from crashing into the boards in the final few minutes of Game 5 that his upper body was often contorted to a 45-degree angle where his only option was to pass just about every time the puck was on his stick, even with a wide-open net to shoot at. 

“He is a warrior,” defenseman Andrew MacDonald said. “Everyone here knows it and respects the hell out of him.”

Had this been the regular season, Provorov and teammate Sean Couturier would have missed weeks of action (see story). Couturier revealed he suffered a torn medial collateral ligament when he collided with Radko Gudas leading up to Game 4. Last Wednesday, the Flyers' center could barely walk and yet he was already skating again.

“The decision was on me,” Couturier said. “Obviously, I had the support of the staff, the organization and the medical team. They helped me a lot. I had a lot of treatments. It definitely got better over the days, but it wasn’t the ideal situation. I didn’t really feel a whole lot today to be honest. I was just giving everything I got.”

Courageous and so incredibly determined, Couturier gave a performance for the ages (see story). Skating on one good leg and another that needs at least four weeks of rest and treatment, the Flyers' Selke Trophy finalist scored a hat trick to go along with five points, and was on the ice for every goal the Flyers scored.

"Credit to Coots, what he played through during the playoffs and the way he played,” Scott Laughton said. “I don’t know much more to say about that guy. The way he battled and the way he played through what he was dealing with.”

The Penguins had their share of injuries as well. Evgeni Malkin missed Game 6 with a leg injury and Patric Hornqvist returned after missing the previous two contests. Even without Malkin, the Penguins had four goals from Jake Guentzel, plus they created havoc and stifled the Flyers with a suffocating forecheck that exposed areas the Flyers need to address in the offseason.

“You have to do it all the time and you have to be consistent in executing under pressure,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “We didn’t do that consistently in this series, not just tonight. That’s the time of year that it is.”    

Overall, the Flyers weren’t eliminated in six games because they didn’t have a healthy Couturier and Provorov. 

Rather, the dogged determination and incredible resolve of those two players is precisely why the Flyers can take pride in pushing the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions to six games, especially after the Flyers were manhandled, 7-0, in Game 1.

In the end, the guys in orange and black simply weren’t good enough or deep enough (see story).

But draft and develop a few more Couturiers and Provorovs on your roster and the thought of winning championships year after year won’t just be a Pittsburgh thing.   

Penguins storm back to bounce Flyers from playoffs

Penguins storm back to bounce Flyers from playoffs

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The Penguins closed out the Flyers in six games after winning, 8-5, Sunday at the Wells Fargo Center.

Penguins forward Jake Guentzel recorded a natural hat trick in the third period and finished with four goals.  

Sean Couturier recorded his second career playoff hat trick with the other coming against Pittsburgh in Game 2 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. After the game, Couturier revealed that he was playing on a torn right MCL. 

Pittsburgh’s quick-strike attack included two first-period goals in 47 seconds and two third-period goals in 10 seconds.

The Flyers' power play was 0 for 13 in the three playoff games on home ice.

Penguins leading scorer Evgeni Malkin was scratched with a leg injury he suffered in the Flyers' Game 5 win in Pittsburgh.

• Like Game 3, the Flyers came out playing desperation hockey and brought the attack to Pittsburgh. They were quicker, stronger on pucks and more importantly with strong puck support. As a result, the Flyers outshot Pittsburgh, 7-1, in the opening five minutes of the game but they couldn’t take a lead into the first intermission and were instead tied at 2-2.

• Scott Laughton gave the Flyers a 4-2 lead with a little under eight minutes to play in the second period and the momentum was short-lived as Radko Gudas played one of his worst periods of the season. His failure to clear the puck in his own end led to Patric Hornqvist scoring an easy tap-in goal. In the final minute of the second period, Gudas simply couldn’t handle Pittsburgh's tenacious forecheck, which led to Guentzel’s goal and a 4-4 score after two periods. Gudas was solid in Game 5, so it’s somewhat surprising there was no carryover into this game. 

• As courageous as Ivan Provorov was to suit up and gut out an ailing shoulder, the Flyers' lockdown defenseman was clearly suffering and his play dipped in the third period. He had a string of turnovers — the first led to Guentzel’s go-ahead goal. After logging 30 minutes in Game 5, Provorov was limited in his ice time that Dave Hakstol was clearly monitoring. In retrospect, Hakstol should have considered dressing seven defensemen, especially given how little he used Dale Weise and how much Provorov was hurting.  

• The newly-assembled line of Laughton-Couturier-Wayne Simmonds created havoc throughout the game, as Couturier and Laughton were on the ice for the first four Flyers goals. All three players contributed on a tenacious forecheck against Sidney Crosby and the top line that led to Andrew MacDonald’s slap-shot goal to tie the game at 2-2. Simmonds was ferocious with a physical element to his game while also leading the Flyers with four shots on goal through the first two periods. 

• A consistent theme throughout this game was the Penguins' aggressive forecheck and constant hounding of the Flyers' defense that gave the Flyers fits. Even playing without Malkin, Pittsburgh’s goals came at even strength with the Pens' forwards turning defense into offense. It’s hard to understand why the Flyers had such trouble handling the Penguins' attack considering all the smart decisions they made in Game 5.