Flyers

End to End: Should we be concerned with Flyers' Nolan Patrick?

End to End: Should we be concerned with Flyers' Nolan Patrick?

Updated: 4:45 p.m.

Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's Tom Dougherty and Jordan Hall.

The question: Should there be concern over Nolan Patrick?

Dougherty
With the Flyers off today, we didn't expect an update on Patrick's status, but here we are. The Flyers revealed that Patrick will miss seven to 10 days with an "upper-body injury."

But it’s safe to speculate that Patrick could have a concussion. He left Wednesday’s game in Ottawa after this innocent collision where his head made contact with the boards.

Patrick suffered a concussion last season. It doesn’t take much to get one. But Patrick will be out seven to 10 days, which is a very specific timeline. That could mean it's another "upper-body injury" for Patrick, who was also whacked with a high stick in the first period Wednesday. Still, we won't know exactly what his “upper-body injury” is because being transparent about injuries isn’t in the Flyers’ nature. Losing Patrick for any significant time period would be devastating.

Already without James van Riemsdyk, the Flyers’ forward group is basically the same as last season except for Mikhail Vorobyev replacing Valtteri Filppula as the third-line center. Take Patrick out of the equation and the Flyers are in deep trouble.

The 20-year-old hasn’t found the scoresheet yet this season, but he’s shown flashes. I haven’t been discouraged by his play. Slow start, sure, but that’s it. But without him, the Flyers’ center group is depleted. If Patrick is out for a lengthy period, moving Claude Giroux back to the middle would likely be the team’s best card to play.

And that’s not ideal, either, because the top line finally clicked Wednesday.

Hall
We had to wait and see about the severity of Patrick's upper-body injury suffered in the first period of Wednesday night's 7-4 win over the Senators.

It could have been a possible concussion as head trainer Jim McCrossin was examining the area of Patrick's head on the bench. Patrick missed nine games last season because of a concussion, so there's a recent history there.

As for Patrick's somewhat slow start, don't be too concerned. In our Fearless Forecast predictions piece, I wrote how Patrick has more of a steady growth to his game than one crazy jump. Patrick just turned 20 years old last month and he's going to get more comfortable in the NHL, but that could still be developing.

Here's what his uncle James Patrick said to NBC Sports Philadelphia in June 2017.

He almost always wants to be comfortable and then he really starts to exert himself. I felt like every playoff round in three years that he played with Brandon, the first game it was always like, 'Come on, let's get going.' He had to feel out who's good on their team, who he might be intimidated by, whatever, and then by Game 4, he was the best player on the ice. 

It's almost like, 'OK, I have to feel it out first,' but then, 'OK, now I know what this guy is about, now I'm going to run him, I'm going to play hard, I'm going to be hard on him.' He will play that way.

He's just always been when he feels comfortable, then he starts to really excel.

So, Patrick might be a natural slow starter.

Is his production worth watching? Absolutely, but I wouldn't be overly concerned with zero points through three games and 3:30 of a period thus far. 

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Don't worry about Ivan Provorov, he can go from 'good to great'

Don't worry about Ivan Provorov, he can go from 'good to great'

Ivan Provorov always stays at one level.

When he speaks after a game, it's hard to tell if the Flyers won or lost.

The 21-year-old is that calm and together.

His game is very much the same. Everyone has become so accustomed to Provorov's robotic consistency that when his play wavers ever so faintly, a panic almost sets in.

Wait, was that Provy? He messes up?

"It's part of hockey, you can't be perfect," Provorov said Saturday. "Nobody is perfect."

The funny thing is Provorov was saying this after evaluating what was arguably his best game of the season. There were some areas he didn't like. He came in with one point and a minus-5 rating through seven games. 

In Saturday's 5-2 victory over the Devils (see observations), Provorov notched two assists, blocked four shots, played a team-high 23:24 and was a plus-2. 

He collected the primary assist on the game-winning goal, a play in which he sent a pass along the wall from the back boards in the defensive zone, springing Jakub Voracek for a breakaway attempt to give the Flyers a 3-2 lead with 3:10 left in the third period.

Provorov's recollection of the play was impressive. He wasn't just trying to fling the puck out of the D-zone to briefly relieve pressure.

"I think it was a D-to-D pass from Travis [Sanheim], I looked one way and I thought I was going to rim it the other way," he said. "But I saw I had two guys beat if I go on my backhand up the wall and that's what I did, and luckily it went by the D and Jakey went on the breakaway and scored."

Following a better output, there was no switch to Provorov's postgame demeanor — that's not who he is or what he's about.

But while the tone of his voice didn't change, his message spoke volumes.

"I don't think I've played bad this year," Provorov said. "I think it's a few bad bounces, a little bad luck. But overall, I think I started good and I'm going to continue to get better and go from good to great."

If Provorov's performance didn't ease concerns, the "good to great" statement should. The 2015 No. 7 overall pick is not the player to worry about on this Flyers team. When he's human, he's still effective. He's also coming off a Grade 3 AC separation suffered in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. It wasn't expected to impact his offseason or the start of this season, but who knows.

Nonetheless, Provorov's rookie year should be a good reminder of how fast he's able to adjust after a mistake or rough night. Many remember his embarrassing stumble and turnover during a 7-4 loss to the Blackhawks, his third NHL game. He finished the defeat as a minus-5 and was a minus-9 through his first 11 contests.

A 19-year-old could have crumbled.

Instead, Provorov ended up setting a franchise rookie record with his 21:58 ice time per game and earned the Barry Ashbee Award as the Flyers' top defenseman.

He hasn't been a question mark since and shouldn't be now.

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Jakub Voracek comes in loud and clear for Flyers

Jakub Voracek comes in loud and clear for Flyers

BOX SCORE

Somehow, Jakub Voracek rolled into 2018-19 like a forgotten man.

Think about it.

Claude Giroux was coming off the 102-point season. Sean Couturier had his anticipated breakout. James van Riemsdyk jumped back on board. Wayne Simmonds brought the unpreventable contract buzz. Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov provided the excitement on the blue line. Travis Konecny and Nolan Patrick oozed with expectations. The goalies … yeah, it's Philadelphia.

Voracek, on the other hand, didn't seem to generate much of the discussion as the Flyers entered this season built to be more than just a small stepping-stone.

And maybe it was a good thing. Maybe it meant Voracek's career-high 85 points last year represented his capability at this stage of his career.

Regardless, silly us for letting his meaning become a subplot of sorts.

Voracek's play did all the talking Saturday, his game-breaking ability that dominates the conversation on full display. His importance to the Flyers was succinctly evident in a 5-2 victory over the Devils at the Wells Fargo Center (see observations).

With the Flyers twice in need of a play, a motivated Voracek made it happen. He found Nolan Patrick for a go-ahead goal with 1:04 left in the second period. After the Devils tied it, 2-2, early in the third, Voracek regained the advantage with under four minutes to go on a nifty move in open ice, where he's as good as anybody (see highlights).

Without Voracek Saturday, the Flyers are 3-5-0 instead of climbing back to .500.

Don't tell him that, though.

"The first 39 minutes, I played like horses--t," Voracek said. "You guys have got to watch the game a little bit more, you know what I mean? It's not only about points. The last three games, I think I played good hockey, it just didn't go in. Just because I'm not on the scoresheet doesn't mean I didn't play well. So many times it happens."

Voracek went scoreless over the Flyers' previous three games. Despite that, he has 11 points (three goals, eight assists) through eight contests.

It's also not all about what shows up in the box score, like Voracek said.

But if he remains that hard on himself when he could have easily accepted the praise, the Flyers will be better off moving forward.

"With his dynamics, he can change the look of a hockey game," Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. "He made a heck of a play on our second goal with his speed coming down the wing and the third goal, a lot of that was him. If he wants more, that's good. I love to hear that. If he thinks he can be better, and wants to be better — hey, we're .500, so everybody has to be a little bit better."

Voracek was near his best.

The Flyers will take that horses--t.

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