One of the exciting things about the Flyers' scoring depth is that two of their most talented players are just starting to find their NHL grooves. Rookies Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier are among the best young players in the world, yet neither is among the Flyers' top 10 scorers. Couturier, the team's 2011 8th overall draft pick, has played in most of the club's games, but mostly in a fourth-line role. Schenn has battled various injuries and spent some time with the AHL Phantoms.
But now, the two are stepping up. Schenn scored his first NHL goal in the Winter Classic, and his second on Tuesday night in Carolina. He has four points in his last five games. Couturier has been a positive factor all season, with a decent amount of scoring for the roles he's been asked to play. He's also scored in each of the past two games, including the winner against the Hurricanes, and those are the two we want to look a little closer at in this post.
Take a look and see if you spot any shared characteristics between these two… [videos and breakdown below]
Here's Tuesday night's goal against Cam Ward:
Obviously, Cooter has plenty of sniper in him and he's not afraid to shoot across a goalie's body at a pinpoint target just inside the far post or past a frozen glove near side. Why should he be? He has a hell of a shot, and the worst-case scenario is, the goalie makes a save and possibly leaves a rebound or it misses wide and his teammates joining the rush have a good battle along the boards to swing it out in front.
Credit his teammates too. Each play came on a quick rush, and Matt Read and Harry Zolnierczyk — both rookies, as is Couturier — played it smart and either stayed or peeled across the slot, pulling the opposing defenders away from the shooter. Hell, Harry Z took a stick to the face and still managed to draw the heat away. It should be noted that there was some suboptimal defending on each, but at that speed, assignments are often blown.
Still, the similarities in these two goals are pretty fun to compare. Freeze each video just before Cooter snaps off the shot; a pair of defenders bisect the two Flyers forwards, and he gets off a clean wrister from almost exactly the same spot inside the circle.I mean, feet apart. Both goalies are square and just outside the top of their creases, but they leave just enough daylight for #14 to peg it.
With the speed of the plays' development, the scrambling defenders, and the accuracy and speed of Couturier's shot, neither goalie had much of a chance. Not bad for a bunch of rookies...