Flyers

Flyers

Throughout the season, we'll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.
 
With the Flyers on the holiday break, let’s discuss a few topics.
 
Going End to End this week are CSNPhilly.com producers/reporters Tom Dougherty and Jordan Hall.
 
Today’s question: Which Flyer has been the most impressive? 
 
Dougherty

He was the main attraction at development camp and training camp. And now, he’s the Flyers’ best defenseman at 19 years old and only getting better with each game.
 
Ivan Provorov has been the most impressive Flyer in the first 36 games of the season. He’s second among rookie defensemen with 15 points, trailing only Columbus’ Zach Werenski.
 
But what has been notable is not the offense he’s bringing to the Flyers, but the overall calmness to their blue line and steady play in all three zones. He may not have the flashiness Shayne Gostisbehere had as a rookie — the plays that drew fans out of their seats in awe — but Provorov makes a subtle great play each game, a small poke check here or chipping a puck out of a potential danger zone there that often goes unnoticed.
 
Provorov leads the Flyers in ice time, averaging 21:02 minutes and that number seems to only get higher and higher as Dave Hakstol puts even more trust in him. For almost every rookie — especially teenagers — there are generally rough stretches filled with mistakes and learning moments. But for Provorov, that came in game No. 3 and that’s it.
 
It didn’t take long for Provorov to establish himself as the Flyers’ top defenseman. Wayne Simmonds said earlier in the season he hasn’t seen a 19-year-old as calm as Provorov since he was in Los Angeles with Drew Doughty, who was 18 in his rookie campaign.

 

Yeah, the Flyers have something in Provorov and he’s just scratching the surface.
 
Hall
Staying away from the obvious names, Michael Raffl has been a pleasant surprise, even while battling injuries.
 
The 28-year-old Austrian is fifth on the Flyers with seven goals despite playing nine fewer games than most and 13:43 minutes a night. Sixteen Flyers are averaging more ice time.
 
But Raffl has unexpectedly provided the perfect complementary element to the Flyers’ top line. He fully understands his role of playing alongside the big boys.
 
Raffl makes them better.
 
"He does every little thing right," Jakub Voracek said on Dec. 8. "He wins the battles. He wins so many puck battles in the corners and on the boards and gives me and [Claude Giroux] a lot of space to work with. He knows what to do to have success with us and he's been doing that."
 
And he’s more skilled than some think. When Raffl is making plays with Voracek and Giroux, the Flyers are tough to beat. Raffl played all 82 regular-season games in 2015-16 and is a plus-3 this season, while the Flyers are 5-0-2 when he scores a goal.
 
Raffl is now out one to two weeks with a knee sprain, but if he can return, finish with 15-18 goals and, most importantly, bring his workmanlike approach each and every game, the Flyers will see more wins.