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Screen Shots: Injuries to the Flyers and Oettinger, and Bailey's 1000th Game

Adam Proteau digs into Sean Couturier's injury recovery status, Josh Bailey's 1000th NHL game and Jake Oettinger's injury.
Josh Bailey

Welcome back to Screen Shots, a regular THN.com feature in which we present a few different hockey topics, and break them down in smaller reading portions. Let’s get started right away:

– The Philadelphia Flyers surprised many people with their strong start to the regular season, but like most teams, they’ve been bitten by the injury bug, and this bite is likely to expose their lack of depth. Star center Sean Couturier, who hasn’t played at all this season, suffered a setback in his rehabilitation from a season-ending back injury this past February, and now is expected to miss the next three to four months with another back injury and surgery.

The 29-year-old Couturier had been green-lit for full participation at Philadelphia’s training camp, but he hadn’t participated in any practices and hurt his back again. He hasn’t played a single game since Dec. 18, 2021, and he’s in the first year of an eight-year, $62-million contract extension he signed in the summer of 2021.

Clearly, this is a devastating situation for him, and you have to wonder if his career is in jeopardy. Back injuries are no joke – ask Henrik Zetterberg or Alex Steen, both of who had to retire due to back injuries – and on top of Couturier’s latest injury, the Flyers are going to be without veteran winger James Van Riemsdyk, who will miss the next six weeks after breaking his index finger Sunday against San Jose.

With veteran winger Cam Atkinson still on the sidelines with an upper-body injury, and veteran defenseman Ryan Ellis expected to miss the entire season, the drop-off in NHL-quality players for Philly is extreme. Even if the Flyers were fully healthy this year, they weren’t going to be projected to be a playoff team; without all these veterans, it should be next-to-impossible for them to win enough games to make the post-season.

– Congratulations to New York Islanders winger Josh Bailey, who played in his 1,000th-career regular-season game Friday and scored the game-winner that night in the Isles’ 6-2 win over Carolina. The 33-year-old has never been a superstar, but he has been a solid competitor who contributed both in the regular season and in the playoffs, where he’s posted 34 assists and 50 points in 70 career post-season games.

Like Minnesota Wild defenseman Alex Goligoski, Bailey’s 1,000-game achievement this year is nothing to sneer at. You have to be dependable, durable and driven to last in hockey’s best league, and in 15 NHL seasons, Bailey has been all those things. You have to tip your hat to him.

– Finally, let’s turn our attention to the Dallas Stars and star goalie Jake Oettinger, who was injured Saturday against the New York Rangers. The 23-year-old got off to a phenomenal start this season, posting a 1.40 goals-against average and a .952 save percentage in seven games, and making a case that he’s the league’s most valuable player in many ways. Indeed, after Oettinger left the game in the second period Saturday, his understudy, Scott Wedgewood, surrendered four goals on only 16 shots and Dallas lost 6-3 to the Blueshirts.

The Stars had no specifics on Oettinger’s injury, but the idea that he may miss significant time should scare the heck out of Dallas fans. Wedgewood has been sub-par, to say the least, this year, putting up an .880 SP and 4.29 G.A.A. in three appearances. If the Stars have to lean on him for a long stretch of time, they could slide down the Central Division standings and have a difficult time earning a playoff berth. Oettinger is a gigantic component of Dallas’ blueprint for success, and as long as he’s out of the lineup, the Stars are likely to struggle. 

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