Flyers Look to Stay Afloat Till Couturier Returns

The Philadelphia Flyers (26-21-11) find themselves in quite the conundrum as the 2016 trade deadline rapidly approaches. With Saturday night’s 5-4 road win over the Toronto Maple Leafs they now sit five points out of the last wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. With Sean Couturier still set to be sidelined till the end of February, do the Flyers become buyers or sellers at this year’s deadline?

The Flyers are just a measly 4-9-4 without Couturier in the lineup. Known throughout the league for his ability to shut down opposing teams top forwards, it was Couturier’s offense that finally started coming around for the Flyers over the last few months. A big time scorer in junior hockey, Couturier, still only 23 years of age, was finally starting to breakout as the two-way threat he was pegged to be when he was selected 8th overall by Philadelphia in the 2011 NHL Draft.

Before his injury, Couturier had 16 points in his last 16 games and the Flyers as a team were beginning to hit their stride. With Couturier becoming a bonafide number 2 center the Flyers were finally capable of taking pressure off the team’s first line and superstar center Claude Giroux. His offensive emergence opened up the entire team, establishing a consistency throughout the forward corps that Philadelphia desperately needed.

If the Flyers can somehow keep their heads above water for their remaining games till Couturier returns, there’s no doubt they will be a dangerous team down the stretch. They just have to hope it’s not too little too late by the time he’s back in the lineup.

Jakub Voracek
(Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)


The Flyers entered this weekend five points back from the last wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference. Mustering up three of a possible four points they now find themselves still five points out of the playoffs with a Pittsburgh win earlier Sunday afternoon.

Friday night the Flyers let a point slip away when they fell to the Montreal Canadians in a shootout loss. Shootouts have always been a thorn in the side of the Philadelphia Flyers since its inception. However, Saturday night they had the chance to walk away with the bonus points via the shootout. Flyers rookie Nick Cousins gave the team a 1-0 lead to the start the shootout, which was followed by stellar save after save from goaltender Michal Neuvirth.

Yet, in typical Flyers fashion their next four shooters would come up empty handed and the Canadians eventually found a way to solve Neuvirth and walked away with the bonus point.

The Flyers would look to respond Saturday night in Toronto and they did just that. At times it was messy, sloppy, and wide open hockey but the bottom line is the Flyers skated away with the much needed two points, winning 5-4 in overtime. Rookie sensation Shayne Gostisbehere once again came up huge with his fourth overtime game winning goal of the season. The goal by Gostisbehere extended his points streak to 15 games, the second most by a defenseman over the last 20 years (Brian Leech, 17 games).


Already playing without 2nd line center Sean Couturier, the Flyers also lost their captain Claude Giroux, playing without him Saturday night due to an “upper-body” injury. It hasn’t been labeled as concussion just yet, but speculation is that the injury most likely stems from PK Subban’s contact to Giroux’s head late in the game Friday night.

Also goalie Steve Mason took himself out of the game Saturday night, and with Neuvirth just coming back from an injury last week, this is not what the Flyers need right now. They’re already without their top two centers and defacto number one defenseman Michael Del Zotto, who will be lost for the remainder of the season. If Mason or Neuvirth lose any time it would be a huge detriment to the already slim playoff hopes for the Philadelphia Flyers.


* Featured Image is by (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)