Ghost, Provorov Reminiscent of Another Top Pairing in Flyers History

Join Our Telegram channel to stay up to date on breaking news coverage

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

The Flyers top defensive pair of Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere are sharp defensemen but this isn't the first time that the Philadelphia Flyers have seen this type of dynamic duo on defense.

The way that those two play could remind the Philadelphia faithful of two other defensemen that were well known during their time with the Orange and Black. Brad McCrimmon and Mark Howe not only were two of the top defensemen in Flyers history, but were one of the most lethal defensive pairings in the history of the organization.

The roles that the Flyers young stars’ play are very similar to the two legends. Gostisbehere’s play is remarkably similar to the great Howe as he is a swift skater, skilled, and a high scorer. His defensive partner in Provorov is compared to McCrimmon due to the indefatigable rock who plays huge minutes and is the great shut down defenseman.

As a pair they were dominating, always up against the best lines of the other team but also dangerous in their own right. McCrimmon was the perfect partner Howe could have had.

"As he said to me on the bench once after I tripped playing a two-on-one and they went in and scored: 'I had your back,'" Howe said in 2011, shortly after McCrimmon's untimely passing. "He always had my back. He and I were different [in playing style] but Brad was the best partner I ever had. We roomed together, hung out together on the road and after home games. We would have a few beers and talk hockey, whatever we thought needed to be talked about. You don’t do that unless this is a guy who is with you through thick and thin."

During the 1985-86 season, McCrimmon was a plus-83 while Howe was a plus-85. Gostisbehere is a plus-8 in 52 games while Provorov is a plus-10 in 56 games. Both Howe and Ghost were the power-play specialists defensively, who would get many assists and points via the man advantage. McCrimmon and Provorov were the stay-at-home defensemen. 

Nick Lidstrom who played with McCrimmon during the 1991-92 season with the Detroit Red Wings mentioned that while playing with him, McCrimmon "was more of a stay-at-home defenseman, letting me get involved with the offense. He also protected me at certain times when things got heated," Lidstrom said following McCrimmon's passing.

In all four players, they showed steadiness, reliability, always positionally sound, gave the forwards time and space to be more effective and could cover up their mistakes.

McCrimmon compiled 81 goals, 322 assists and 1,416 penalty minutes in 1,222 NHL games. His plus-minus of plus-444 ranks 10th all-time and the nine players ranked ahead of him are all in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Howe’s career consisted of 197 goals, 545 assists, for a total of 742 points in 929 NHL games.

If Provorov and Gostisbehere continue to play like they have early in their careers, then the Flyers will be in great shape for years to come with the dynamic pairing on the blue line.

Join Our Telegram channel to stay up to date on breaking news coverage