Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier did not let the team’s injuries affect his performance in the Flyers’ win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night. In fact, it may have actually compelled him to be so aggressive on the ice.
In his second year with the Flyers Couturier has been having a sophomore slump, but in Thursday’s game it looked like we saw the return of the hot rookie from last season.
It wasn’t that Couturier scored any goals in the game—the only one he scored was later credited to linesmate Jay Rosehill, and he didn’t get many shots on goal either. Yet he remained active in the game by having the ability to be all over the ice, much to the chagrin of the Leafs defensemen.
Couturier was also a solid set-up man to Jakub Voracek and Rosehill, as he assisted both of their goals. We also saw him start to play like a defenseman as he was blocking shots and backing up the defense when they needed it. If he can play like a defensive forward for the rest of the month it will be a huge help to the Flyers weak blueline.
As much as Flyers fans have complained that Peter Laviolette doesn’t know what he’s doing or that he focuses too much on the offense, perhaps he knew what he was doing with Couturier. The Flyers wouldn’t give up Couturier to get goaltender Ben Bishop from the Ottawa Senators for a reason, and that’s because Laviolette was really confident that Couturier would find strength in his game again.
Considering Couturier’s performance tonight, the head coach was right to hold off and remain faithful in the young center’s talents. The shifting of the lines was also a key to Couturier’s success. Putting him with Voracek and Matt Read, then with the new guys Adam Hall and Rosehill proved to be very successful. While on both lines he logged an assist, which proved that Laviolette’s line shifts were working for him.
This is only Couturier’s second year with the team and although this season has been a bit rough for him, he has so much potential to be the next great Flyers player.