Sean Couturier turns 21-years-old this Saturday, but he’s already well into his third full season in the NHL, and really starting to come into his own as an all-around player. He may have made a name for himself in the Philadelphia Flyers’ nationally televised 6-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night.
Couturier reached new career highs with four points (2 G, 2 A) and a plus-three rating, as he helped the Flyers erase a two-goal deficit and ultimately run the Red Wings out of their own building with five unanswered scores. He also won 11-of-21 faceoffs taken, and led all forwards in shifts with 30.
From a pure statistical standpoint, it was the best regular season game of Couturier’s career. He also registered four points once in the postseason as a rookie, potting three goals and a helper in Game 2 of Philadelphia’s first-round series over the Penguins.
His brilliant power-play feed to free up Steve Downie in the slot got the Flyers on the scoreboard in the first period. In the second, it was an instinctive dish from below the goal line to Matt Read all alone in front of the net, a critical play that cut Detroit’s lead to one before the teams went into the dressing room.
Both passes required tremendous vision, precision and impeccable execution. Couturier obliged, and his linemates were there to finish. How great has his pairing with Downie and Read been of late?
Fittingly, Couturier would punch home the decisive marker. He had positioned himself aside of Red Wings netminder Jimmy Howard, which just happened to be where the puck was heading after Downie’s shot took a left turn off of a defender’s skate. Coots effortlessly redirected the biscuit into the basket to put the Flyers on top.
Good things happen when you crash the net.
Even the empty-netter was a heady play. Couturier patiently held on to the disc until he got the look he wanted, then fired it from the neutral zone to put the exclamation point on his night.
Claude Giroux also snapped a goal by Howard from outside the faceoff circle to tie the score on a nicely executed power play that pressured Detroit throughout. Giroux looked like he was setting up for it again on the next power play some minutes later, but once the captain attracted attention he passed to Scott Hartnell who had wheeled into the slot. Excellent play design.
Steve Mason stopped 32 of 35 shot attempts for Philadelphia.
It’s worth noting the Red Wings were without Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Todd Bertuzzi, all scratched due to various injuries.
Couturier’s goals give him four in the Flyers’ last four games, and 10 points over the last nine. He’s up to 14 points (5 G, 9 A) and is plus-10 through 28 games this season.
Of course, the great thing about the 2011 eighth-overall pick is you always get more than what you see on the stat sheet. He plays great defense, rarely makes mistakes with the puck, and isn’t afraid to go to the dirty areas when necessary.
The way he’s playing right now, and the fact that we’re talking this highly about a still-20-year-old kid should mean big things are in store for the Flyers in the future. Just imagine, Couturier could be wearing orange and black for another decade... or two.
>> Box Score [Yahoo!]