NHL Philadelphia Flyers

Sean Couturier’s Absence Affects Philadelphia Flyers’ Defensive Health

Philadelphia Flyers Sean Couturier

Eric Hartline – US Presswire

Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier has the flu. He’s been sent home because his illness is rather severe and the team doesn’t want him to infect his teammates.

Even though “Coots” isn’t expected to miss much time, his loss for even a few games is significant. As one of the Flyers’ best defensive forwards, he helps to keep opponents top lines at bay.

I consider general manager Paul Holmgren’s acquisition of the Columbus Blue Jackets‘ first round draft pick in June 2011, as part of the Jeff Carter deal, to be one of his better transactions. “Homer’s” scouting staff smartly advised that Couturier be taken with that eighth overall selection.

Few predicted the then-teenager would make the team out of camp as he was standing on the stage with his new orange jersey on. By the time that fall’s training camp had arrived, it was hard to deny that Couturier’s on-ice skills and steady demeanor resembled that of many National Hockey League veterans.

After making the team, Couturier also played well enough for the Flyers to keep him on their NHL roster for the entire season. The clear ice vision that he exhibited during the 2011-12 season telegraphed a Selke Trophy award at some point in his burgeoning career.

Last night’s 5-2 drubbing at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs can’t be pinned solely on Couturier’s absence, but the fact that he wasn’t there surely didn’t help.

If the Flyers drop the next two road games against the Winnipeg Jets and New Jersey Devils, Laviolette’s squad will have surrendered its recent modest momentum. This is hardly a reactionary guess because inconsistency has been the overall theme of this shortened season’s group.

Time isn’t a luxury as Philadelphia attempts to blend its returning players and new additions during this 48-game hockey year. Hopefully, Couturier’s illness isn’t lengthy and he’s able to rejoin his teammates by this weekend at the latest.

Follow Sean on Twitter @SeanyOB, Facebook, Google+ and read his blog Insight.