The Flyers are only four points out of a wild card spot, but making the post-season may be tougher without their second-line center. Sean Couturier will miss the next four weeks with a lower-body injury.
There hasn’t been much talk about the Flyers this season, so it may surprise some that Philadelphia is knocking on the door of a wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference and could realistically even make the post-season in a divisional spot. But if the Flyers are going to improve their chances of making the playoffs over the next month, they’re going to have to do so without Sean Couturier.
Flyers GM Ron Hextall announced Friday that Couturier, 23, will be out the next four weeks with a lower-body injury. As one would expect, Philadelphia didn’t announce the specifics of the injury, but it was apparent something was ailing the Flyers center when he wasn’t on the ice for the third period of Thursday’s 6-3 win over the Nashville Predators.
Couturier had been nursing a lower-body injury heading into the all-star break, but he tweaked the injury Thursday and finds himself on the shelf. Flyers coach Dave Hakstol called Couturier’s absence “a big loss,” but said he has faith in the rest of his club to step up.
“Everybody’s gonna have to chip in and take a little bit of that slack,” Hakstol told the Courier-Post’s Dave Isaac. “One guy’s not gonna step into that role and do it all. Everybody’s got to step in. we’re gonna keep doing what we’ve been doing, keep fighting and scratching and clawing and playing well.”
And the Flyers are playing quite well. They’ve won each of their past three games by a combined score of 14-8 and are getting contributions throughout their lineup. The offensive outpouring of late has been nice, but on a team that has struggled to score over the course of the season — Philadelphia ranks 29th in goals for — losing a player like Couturier who can contribute at both ends of the ice hurts.
“Overall, yeah, he’s been an impact player for us as at both ends of the rink,” Hakstol told Isaac. “That’s why I say we have to have different players take pieces of what (Couturier) does for us. I don’t think we’re gonna have one player step in and completely take that role.”
While he’s not known for his offensive game, Couturier was on pace for the best production of his young career. Through 40 games he had managed nine goals and 24 points, and was on pace to break his previous career-high of 39 points set in 2013-14. Missing four weeks likely means he won’t surpass that mark this season.
With Couturier out, the Flyers have recalled Nick Cousins from the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms. In 38 games in the AHL, Cousins has 12 goals and 38 points. In the four games he has played in the NHL this season, he has zero points and has averaged less than eight minutes of ice time per game.