The Silver Lining to Sean Couturier's Scratchings

Boston Bruins v Philadelphia Flyers
Boston Bruins v Philadelphia Flyers / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

Before the game against Boston, the Flyers had played two tough teams and walked out with three points; a victory over the Maple Leafs and an overtime loss with the Hurricanes. However, the Flyers played those two games without their captain, Sean Couturier.

He's not hurt. The rumor was that it was a "pacing issue". As a whole, the team had seemingly sputtered out a bit. That's not surprising. The team has dealt with defensive injuries plus the loss of Sean Walker at the deadline. The team is trying to find itself while amid their toughest stretch of the season.

Fans will wonder why their coach is sitting the team's captain during this stretch. Some will see this as an example of Tortorella "pushing his weight around the locker room." After all, he had conflicts with Kevin Hayes and Tony DeAngelo last season and has had earlier issues with Morgan Frost this year. Is it possible that Couturier is now on his radar?

However, if we look deeper, there are two silver linings to this. There are two reasons that benching Couturier might be the best thing for him and this team.

Coots Can Get Jump Started

After missing 18 months on the ice, Couturier has returned and has been healthy all season. He has 11 goals with 25 assists. He is nine goals away from reaching 200. With four more points, he will become the 16th Flyer to reach 500 points while donning the Orange and Black. That's a very impressive mark.

However, he has slowed down a bit as of late. He has just one assist all month. In February, he recorded one goal with just three assists. That's down from one goal and seven assists in January. Likewise, his playing time had decreased from 24:01 minutes on Jan. 4 in a win against Calgary to playing under 15 minutes in seven of his last 10 games played. He hasn't played over 20 minutes in a game since Jan. 23.

Maybe he's still facing some effects from being out so long. Perhaps there are some small, lingering issues. But then again, he was upset at being deactivated at the end of last season when it was clear this team was going nowhere. He still wanted to play.

Having a few days off seemed to be good for him. It likely helped to reignite the fiery passions inside of him and will see him come off that bench with a vengeance. It will help give his team the spark it needs right now. If there are any lingering issues, having a few days off will help ease them up a bit. For these reasons, being sat down is good.

Couturier was back in the lineup against Boston and his line, alone with Olle Lycksell and Noah Cates, was arguably the team's best line. While they didn't score, they limited the Bruins chances when on the ice together. That shows in their 80.00 CF%. It's only one game, but doing that against Boston is not an easy feat.

No Favorites in the Locker Room

Sitting Couturier, there is an even more important consequence for this team. There is nobody on this team that is more important than any other. Everyone is to be held to the same standard. Everyone will be held accountable.

This is something we have seen that extends from last year as well. Hayes and DeAngelo were benched. So were Travis Sanheim, Travis Konecny, Rasmus Ristolainen, Cam Atkinson, and Ivan Provorov. Nobody can get away with not putting it all out there on the ice. If you have heart and guts, you will play.

This is one of the reasons that Nick Seeler was extended. It's efforts on the ice that have impressed Tortorella and the team management. For his abilities, he was rewarded.

For a team of young players trying to prove they belong in the NHL, this is an important lesson. There are no double standards. A star player can be benched just as easily as a rookie. A rookie showing effort will get more playing time over a veteran. Nobody is more important than any other.

By doing this, Tortorella isn't playing favorites. He is being fair to everyone. While hoping to light a fire in a veteran who hasn't been at his best lately, he can inspire a rookie to get a chance to shine in the sun. Perhaps that kid can show they deserve a bigger role on the team. We've seen players like Tyson Foerster and Ryan Poehling embracing the opportunities they've been given.

Either way, these recent scratches could have benefits for this team moving forward. If they can make the playoffs, they might just be better for it. If not, the kids on the team will have learned some valuable lessons they can carry with them moving on to next year.