On just his second shift of the second game of the season, the Philadelphia Flyers lost star center Sean Couturier. He suffered an injury on what seemed like a normal hockey hit.
“It was one of those hits I take every game, I’ve probably taken 1,000 of those in my career,” Sean Couturier said about how his injury happened. “I’ve probably gotten hit a lot harder before but nothing happened. Just not too sure about exactly how it happened.”
Couturier added “think it might have been not even from the hit. But, more from taking the hit into the glass or the boards and absorbing it.”
The injury occurred when Couturier absorbed a clean hit from Pittsburgh Penguins forward, James McCann, near the Flyers bench. Couturier’s right shoulder went into the boards. While McCann checked his left shoulder.
After taking the hit, Couturier would go off on a line-change & not return.
“It didn’t feel right coming back to the bench,” Sean Couturier said about how he felt after the hit. “Just wanted to get checked out and make sure everything was alright. It got pretty sore.”
The next day, an MRI would confirm an injury. Sean Couturier would be diagnosed with a costochondral separation. An injury occurs when the rib tears away from the cartilage that connects it to your breastbone, according to healthline.com.
Today, 10-days after the injury, Couturier returned to the ice to continue his rehab.
“Today was a step forward by skating,” Sean Couturier said about returning to the ice. “Haven’t really set a timetable yet (for his return). But, feeling better.”
Couturier added “it’s not fully 100% comfortable out there. But, at least I can skate, get good cardio in, & try to keep my legs for whenever I’m back.”
Since the injury, the Flyers have struggled to replace the void left by Couturier.
The Flyers are 1-2-1 without Couturier in the line-up. Their lone win coming in a 3-0 shutout that saw Brian Elliott make 40-saves. The three losses tell a different story.
In each of the three losses, the Flyers have given up four or more goals and have been a defensive nightmare. Which may be the biggest contribution the Flyers miss the most by the absence of Couturier.
“When your number one center goes down, it’s always tough to overcome,” Jake Voracek said postgame after the Flyers 5-2 win over the Penguins. “He kind of brings that poise to the game and to his line and is real smart with the puck and he holds the puck really well. That is one of the reasons why the game was so sloppy because we were missing Coots.”
With Sean Couturier not setting a timetable for his return, those reasons Jake Voracek provided will have to be solved quickly. Something that, in the first four games without Couturier, has not been the case.
“I’ve watched every game. It’s tough watching when you cant be out there & help your team,” Sean Couturier said when asked about how often he’s watched since being injured. “Obviously I think we are not playing that good. But, it’s early in the year and we are gonna make sure we fix those things & moving forward we are going to be a good team.”
The original diagnosis on Couturier was “at least two weeks”. However, as we head towards two weeks on Friday, Couturier looks like he will be out a little bit longer than first expected. Something the Flyers hope to overcome without their #1 center.