Philadelphia Flyers Need to be Patient with Youngsters

After a very rough outing against Chicago, the Philadelphia Flyers and fans must remain patient through the growing pains

Philadelphia Flyers fans insisted that Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny were ready for the NHL. This is despite the fact that both players are only 19-years old and hadn’t spent any time in the American Hockey League. “They’re ready now”, “Sending them back down to Juniors will only  hurt their development”.  Well, Flyers fans got their wish. Both players are here now.

Both players played well in the team’s first three games justifying the promotion to the NHL. But, when you are dealing with 19-year old rookies, especially 19-year old defensemen, nights like last night’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks are to be expected.

Ivan Provorov had a tough night to say  the least. He finished the night a -5. He had a bad turnover where he tried to wheel and outlet the puck out of the Flyers zone but as he was turning he fell to the ice, leaving the puck for Chicago forward Dennis Rassmusen to sweep in and score on a clean break away.

On the game winning goal for Chicago, he made a nice play to chip the puck away from the Chicago forward following a Claude Giroux turnover in the neutral zone but, then allowed him to skate right around him and make the pass out front for an easy goal. Then on the goal that made it 6-4 Chicago, he tried a cross ice pass to Sean Couturier that was in his skates. The result was a turnover and a two on one rush the other way that led to the goal that iced the game.

The is no denying the fact that Ivan Provorov had a really tough game. These are the kinds of games that 19 year old kids who are trying to make the jump right from Juniors to the NHL are going to have. The speed of the game from junior to the NHL increases exponentially and takes time to get used to.

Already I am hearing the whispers from several Flyers fans that maybe the kids weren’t ready. Maybe they should be sent back down. This was the exact mentality I warned against when they were insisting that both players absolutely belonged in the NHL even though most of them had never seen either one of them play. Nothing will destroy a kid’s confidence more if he  thinks that one bad mistake, or a few bad shifts or a few bad games is going to land him on a bus back to Brandon or Sarnia.

He will play tight, afraid to make a mistake instead of just playing his game. This will just lead to even more mistakes and will cause his confidence to drop with each passing shift. Conversely, if a kid knows he is here for the whole year, and knows that if he makes a mistake he won’t be sent back down to Junior, it will allow him to relax and just play his game. Even if he does make a mistake, he knows he will be allowed to fix it without any worry of getting sent down.

Now that both players are here, you are going to have to live with both the good and the bad. The kids are here, they need to be here to stay. This means that if their mistakes are going to cause the Flyers to lose games and possibly miss the playoffs, then so be it. Like I have said many times before, the most important thing is that these kids are developed properly.

If the Flyers wind up missing the playoffs this year because of their young players making mistakes early in the year and costing them points in the standings but, as a result of being kept in the NHL and being allowed to learn from their mistakes they are better players and are playing well at the end of the year, I can definitely live with that. I would rather that happen then the kids being sent back down and having that hurt their confidence and the veterans being inserted back in to the line up and the Flyers squeak in to the playoffs. That does absolutely nothing for this team’s long term development.

There is no need to push the panic button, Flyers fans. Just because a kid has a tough game doesn’t mean he isn’t ready for the NHL. If you’re going to have 19 year old kids make the jump from junior directly to the NHL, nights like last night are going to happen. The important thing is how they respond to this. Let’s see what happens tonight.

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