Philadelphia Flyers: Top 5 most clutch players of the 2019-20 season

Kevin Hayes, Philadelphia Flyers. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Kevin Hayes, Philadelphia Flyers. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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The Philadelphia Flyers became one of the surprises of the NHL this season, as they forced their way into contention for the Metropolitan Division title prior to the pause. Along the way, the Flyers have been lifted by clutch plays from key players that have resulted in some signature moments.

The Philadelphia Flyers established themselves as one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference over the last few months of the season in large part due to their stifling defense and relentless forecheck. The Flyers “team game” was as good as it’s been in quite some time, with five players on pace to score at least 20 goals.

But in a high-variance sport like hockey, sometimes the gameplan goes out the window. When this happens, teams rely on certain players to come up with timely plays to swing momentum or bust the game wide open. Like most other titans of the league, the Flyers are equipped with a cadre of players born with the “mamba mentality.”

“Clutchness” is a subjective term (and also a made up one), so fans and observers will all have a differing rubric. For the sake of this piece, we’ll say that a clutch player is someone who makes momentum changing plays during moments when the pressure is intensified, or plays that strengthen their team’s control of the game.

This means that players like Sean Couturier, Travis Konecny and Carter Hart who consistently offer play that is well-above average, don’t automatically fit the bill – although they may still meet the criteria in other ways

Ivan Provorov, Philadelphia Flyers. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Ivan Provorov, Philadelphia Flyers. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

5. Ivan Provorov

Ivan Provorov is a gamer. In just four seasons, the young Russian defenseman has proven himself to be the Flyers most consistent and talented blueliner. Following an up-and-down 2018-19 season, Provorov returned to form this year, posting 13 goals and averaging just under 25 minutes of ice time per game before the season was cut short.

Though Provorov definitely falls into the “consistently good” category for the Flyers, the 23-year-old nabs the opening spot on this list because when the chips are down and you’re in the dying minutes of a game, there’s no other Flyers defenseman you’d rather see on the ice.

Whether it’s coming up with a key stick lift, a blocked shot or sweeping a puck off the goal line, Provorov’s defensive awareness reaches new heights in the latter stages of the game.

The young defender also thrives in sudden-death overtime, despite the massive amounts of minutes he plays.

Provorov has directly factored into three overtime goals this season for the Flyers, assisting on both Couturier’s winner against the Canadiens and Jakub Voracek‘s toe-drag vs the Blues, while also pulling off arguably the goal of the year for the Flyers in Montreal versus the Canadiens.

The goal showcases Provorov’s excellent offensive instincts and his willingness to jump the play when he smells blood in the water. A shark on skates, Provorov recognized that he had Max Domi – a forward not known for his defensive abilities – covering him, side skates up the ice, busts down the seem and pots the overtime winner from a sharp angle.

Provorov showed a similar killer instinct later in the year in Washington when he okie-doked Alex Ovechkin up the ice and fired a seed past Braden Holtby, ending a Capitals prospective comeback.

When Provorov is on the ice late in the game, good things tend to happen.