The Philadelphia Flyers are off to a very respectable 2-1-0 start to their regular season, and the return of former Selke Trophy winner Sean Couturier has played a big part in that.
Couturier has played with a variety of different linemates to start the year, including Cam Atkinson, Joel Farabee, rookies Bobby Brink and Tyson Foerster, and Owen Tippett. The common denominator between all of these players is that they’ve played their best hockey – analytically, that is – next to the veteran center.
In just his third NHL regular season game since Dec. 18, 2021, Couturier drew and converted a penalty shot against the Vancouver Canucks, and dominated a matchup with Hart Trophy candidate Elias Pettersson. The 30-year-old faced his Swedish counterpart for 2:49 at even strength and out-attempted him 8-5. In that same timeframe, the Flyers generated six scoring chances to to the Canucks’ three. Of those six scoring chances, five were high-danger.
A herculean effort from Vancouver goaltender Thatcher Demko kept the score from getting ugly, but Philadelphia can be proud of a staunch defensive effort that allowed them to dominate in front of Flyers faithful. But, can the team – and Couturier himself – take things one step even further?
Back in his prime, the 2019 Selke Trophy winner was one of the league’s very best two-way centers. Indeed, not one of the biggest stars nor a superstar. But, if the Flyers can keep up their defense-first charade throughout the entire season, a wildcard playoff spot isn’t out of the question. Neither is a second Selke Trophy for Couturier. Let’s discuss.