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Ivan Provorov could be turning the corner
18 2019 . broadstreethockey.com

The Flyers prized defenseman has picked up his play in the month of January.

Early on this season, it was fair to say Ivan Provorov was having a rough go around, and was not the Flyers best defenseman. His underlying numbers were mediocre to below-average, and he wasnt producing at his scoring pace from last season. Since the new year, however, his underlying numbers are improving, and the points are slowly but surely coming for the 22 year old blueliner.

The Turnaround
Since their New Years Day meeting with the Nashville Predators, Provorov has posted a 51.48 Corsi percentage, in a season in which his Corsi is at a meager 48.83 - which would be a career low. Provorov has never been a metrics dynamo, with his Corsi in his rookie season and sophomore season coming in at 49.23 and 49.37. Although its not as if Ivan Provorov has been a play driving master in his first two seasons, there has been a bit of a drop off this season. And although there seems to be a viable reason for that which will be mentioned later on seeing Provorov consistently drive play is something expected of him with his skillset.

Much of the concern with Provorov stems from his large number of turnovers this season. Giveaways may not be a perfect or even valuable stat by any means, but in this case it appears to signify the turnaround for the Russian defenseman. Over his past 13 games, Provorov has only committed four giveaways. This is an unbelievably stark contrast from the 26 giveaways in his first 34 games. In his first two seasons, Provorov had 64 and 71 giveaways respectively, so if this pace continues (30 giveaways in 47 games), hed post by far the lowest giveaway number of his career at around 52. So while we can debate the importance of giveaways, or how theyre tracked, its clear that Provorov is playing a more sound game of late.

Ivan Provorov is playing better hockey by the eye test as well. In the beginning of the season, he appeared to be overthinking the game instead of letting his natural talent and abilities shine through. Lately, hes amended those issues and looked like the number one defenseman that we all expected heading into this season. To go along with his solid metrics, Provorov has five points in his past nine games, including a three game point streak that hell look to continue tomorrow vs. Montreal. It may be ironic, but the bye week could be coming at the worst time for Provorov, who seems to be finding his rhythm.

Usage a Major Factor
Not to be overlooked, Provorovs usage has seen a relatively major increase this season. Our very own Jake Fahringer covered this in a feature earlier in the season, but its worth mentioning again. Provorovs offensive zone start percentage in his rookie and sophomore seasons were 45.35 and 48.35 percent respectively. This season, Provorov has seen his OZS percentage decrease to 41.70 percent, Considering this, the fact his Corsi percentage has only dipped around one percent is pretty remarkable.

To go along with a heavy dosage of defensive zone starts, Provorov is also averaging the most minutes of his NHL career so far. Hes averaging just about 25 minutes a game at 24:56, which puts him 12th in the league in average time on ice. Some of the big names hes ahead of? Dustin Byfuglien, Mark Giordano, Ryan Ellis, and Alex Pietrangelo. Provorov is being used like one of the best defenseman in the league, and hes only 22 years old. So the fact hes still experiencing some growing pains is of course frustrating, but maybe not surprising.

In regards to his point totals, its also extremely important to understand that Provorovs PDO is currently the lowest of his career so far. His .970 PDO, compared to his .983 and 1.012 in his first two seasons could very well signify that hes had a good amount of bad luck as well. While I dont believe it can all be chalked up to poor luck as he was clearly struggling for the majority of the early portions of the season its certainly a factor that cant be overlooked.

Quality Chances are Coming
Something that Provorov has improved upon this season, however, is the number of quality chances hes generating. In his first two seasons, Provorov had a 47.42 and 47.96 scoring chances-for percentage, this season, hes all the way up at an even 50 percent. An even more drastic change comes with his high danger chances-for percentage, coming from 47.80 and 48.66 percent the last two years, to this year with a 50.65 percent. The fact hes been able to do this even with his increase in defensive zone starts, makes it all the more impressive.

Also, Provorovs threat percentage from Micah Blake McCurdys hockeyviz model has seen an increase over the past two seasons offensively. In his rookie year, his threat percentage offensively was a weak minus 16 percent, and in his sophomore year it only increased to a minus 10 percent. Both years, the Flyers were getting higher quality chances with Provorov off the ice, rather than on it. This season however, the Flyers are an average threat level team with Provorov on the ice, and a minus three percent with him off the ice. So while there have been some visible flaws to Provorovs game this season, the amount of high percentage plays hes generating is definitely not one of them.

Ivan Provorov has had a frustrating season to say the very least. Hes shown flashes of being that number one defenseman that we know he can be, but hes also gone through some growing pains that come with playing this much at such a young age. While his start to the season certainly wasnt living up to expectations, in the past nine games hes appeared to have turned the corner. Now, he just needs to continue to put these kind of performances together consistently, and build upon them. With the chemistry weve seen between him and Travis Sanheim - who I believe also deserves credit for Provorovs turnaround - I do not see any reason why Provy does not have a stellar end to his season. 

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