LAS VEGAS — Mikhail Vorobyev and Ivan Provorov decided to forgo the bus and walk the short distance together from the team hotel to T-Mobile Arena prior to Thursday’s season opener.
Not even remotely observed on the streets of Las Vegas, Vorobyev had to wonder how he could get noticed once he stepped on the ice of the arena.
If anything, that stroll between teammates was a chance for Provorov, who happens to be one week younger than Vorobyev, to impart a little wisdom on his fellow Russian teammate about what he could expect in his NHL debut inside one of the most energy-filled arenas in hockey.
“Just enjoy it,” Provorov said of his advice. “I told him it was going to amp up compared to the preseason, and then I just let him be with his own thoughts and stuff. It’s not an easy thing coming into your first game, especially in this building with the crowd like that.”
A few days earlier, Vorobyev called just making the team “a dream come true” and was tasked with centering a pair of 30-goal scorers flanked to each side in James van Riemsdyk and Wayne Simmonds. That’s a luxury most third-line centers in the league don’t have.
“I am so happy,” Vorobyev said. “I was pretty nervous before the game, but after the first shift I felt good and my partners helped me a lot.”
There were parts of Vorobyev’s night that stood out on the scoresheet. His first NHL point — an assist — a plus-2 rating and just over 14 minutes of ice time in the Flyers’ 5-2 win over the Golden Knights (see observations). As you scroll across the page, you notice one of the areas that he still needs to improve as Vorobyev won just 14 percent of his faceoffs.
“That’s a lot coming at a young player in this atmosphere,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “He handled himself well. We’ll see on tape some things he can do a little bit quicker in terms of coverages, but he’s seeing the coverages. For a young player, that’s a real good place to start.”
But the one play that endeared Vorobyev to his teammates and even the coaching staff took place in the third period when he stepped in between a pair of Vegas players in an attempt to protect Nolan Patrick.
“Yeah, that’s huge,” linemate Simmonds said. “We’re trying to talk about team tough and someone gets hit, and Misha is the first guy on this team that steps up for his teammates. It’s all for one and one for all.”
And one game that this Flyers rookie will certainly never forget.