VOORHEES, N.J. — After missing 16 games with an MCL sprain to his left knee, Sean Couturier is expected to be in the Flyers' lineup Wednesday night in St. Louis as the Flyers begin a three-game road trip.
Travel issues forced the Flyers' top checking center to miss practice Tuesday at Skate Zone, but he will join the club later today.
“Coots has a shot at playing soon,” general manager Ron Hextall said. “Hopefully he plays [Wednesday]. We will probably flip Reader (Matt Read) to LTIR.”
Coach Dave Hakstol would like to see Couturier play against the Blues, as well.
“I haven’t seen him or talked to him in a few days, but he’s a huge part of our team and we’ve seen that time after time, when he’s in the lineup versus out,” Hakstol said. “If he’s available, it would be nice to have him back.”
If Couturier plays, Hakstol said he doesn’t intend to touch Brayden Schenn’s line with Travis Konecny and Wayne Simmonds. He wants Schenn to remain at center.
That means Couturier drops into a true third-line role between Nick Cousins and Dale Weise.
“Brayden, for the most part, he’s done a pretty good job,” Hakstol said. “Everything can be adjusted but right now, that’s [a line] I want to stay with.”
Read, who has an oblique muscle pull, practiced with the team wearing the white “injured” jersey but left the practice early, although Hextall said he didn’t suffer a setback and it was planned that way.
“We knew it would be January,” Hextall said of Read’s full recovery, adding it would be a “long shot” for him to play in either game in San Jose or Anaheim by the weekend when this road trip finishes.
Goalie Michal Neuvirth (left knee), who practiced four times on his own in recent weeks, rejoined teammates Tuesday and will make the trip, but won’t play.
“He has some time,” Hextall said. “I’d be shocked if he played within the week.”
Anthony Stolarz will remain on the roster as the Flyers take three goalies on the road.
“Feeling good and will go day by day,” said Neuvirth, who’s missed 20 games. “For me, it’s just getting back to 100 percent and to feel good about myself again. Today was a real good practice — I was doing everything and it was the first good test for me.”
• Jakub Voracek had a maintenance day, a curious designation after four days off.
• Mark Streit (left shoulder) took full practice but remained uncertain as to whether he would play this week. “I’m not quite there yet,” Streit said. “Just going through some drills. It’s going to be a process but I felt pretty good out there.”
• Michael Raffl (right knee) did not practice. Taylor Leier replaced the injured Raffl on the top line with Claude Giroux and Voracek.
• Steve Mason, who left the game last week in New Jersey with back tightness, practiced and said he is fine.