Flyers

Is there an NHL forward that does more than Flyers' Sean Couturier?

Is there an NHL forward that does more than Flyers' Sean Couturier?

For the second straight season, Sean Couturier has put up 30-plus goals and 40-plus assists.

By the end of 2018-19, he should have new career highs across the board. Last season, Couturier eclipsed the 40-point mark for the first time by blowing past it with 31 goals and 45 assists, while finishing as the Selke Trophy (top defensive forward) runner-up.

Through 72 games this season, Couturier has 31 goals and 41 assists as eight contests remain, making him one of 20 players currently with 30 or more goals and 40 or more assists.

That's an eye-opening feat in itself. But how the 26-year-old is doing it compared to the rest is even more impressive.

First, let's list the 20 players:

• Nikita Kucherov (37 goals, 83 assists)
• Connor McDavid (37 goals, 70 assists)
• Patrick Kane (41 goals, 60 assists)
• Leon Draisaitl (43 goals, 51 assists)
• Sidney Crosby (33 goals, 60 assists)
• Johnny Gaudreau (35 goals, 57 assists)
• Nathan MacKinnon (37 goals, 54 assists)
• Brad Marchand (31 goals, 59 assists)
• Brayden Point (39 goals, 50 assists)
• Steven Stamkos (38 goals, 50 assists)
• Mikko Rantanen (31 goals, 56 assists)
• Aleksander Barkov (34 goals, 53 assists)
• John Tavares (41 goals, 40 assists)
• Mark Scheifele (35 goals, 45 assists)
• Sebastian Aho (30 goals, 49 assists)
• Sean Monahan (31 goals, 45 assists)
• Matthew Tkachuk (34 goals, 42 assists)
• Jonathan Toews (31 goals, 42 assists)
• Sean Couturier (31 goals, 41 assists)
• Patrice Bergeron (30 goals, 41 assists)

Among all NHL forwards, Couturier has played the 11th-most penalty-kill minutes at 167:48. Of the other 19 players with 30-plus goals and 40-plus assists, only one ranks in the top 50 for shorthanded ice time among forwards — Florida's Barkov at 21st with 151:50.

Meanwhile, 17 of those 19 players with 30-plus goals and 40-plus assists rank in the top 50 for power-play ice time among forwards. Tavares and Bergeron do not, while Couturier just cracks the top 50 at 44th with 223:17 man-advantage minutes.

On top of that, since the start of the 2017-18 season, only one forward has a better plus-minus mark than Couturier's plus-48 — Vegas' William Karlsson at plus-50.

Couturier has truly turned into one of the NHL's top do-it-all forwards. He consistently matches up against the opposition's best, does yeoman's work on the PK, takes (and wins) a ton of faceoffs and has played the fourth-most minutes per game among forwards since last season.

To be a 30-40 guy again is noteworthy. To record those numbers with a full plate of everything else is proof Couturier has become an elite Swiss Army knife in the league.

He's locked up with the Flyers through the 2021-22 season with a cap hit of just $4.3 million.

In late January, general manager Chuck Fletcher talked about untouchables. He mentioned Claude Giroux for obvious reasons, such as the captain's no-movement clause.

Alongside Giroux, Couturier should be right there because his fingerprints are everywhere.

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Sloppy play, surprising trends and Flyers take 2nd straight loss before running into Connor McDavid

Sloppy play, surprising trends and Flyers take 2nd straight loss before running into Connor McDavid

BOX SCORE

This time, the Flyers had the opposition take it to 'em.

Alain Vigneault's team never had the reins Tuesday night in a 3-1 loss to the Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome.

The defeat marked the first in regulation for the Flyers (2-1-1), who must shift their focus to salvaging a game on this Western Canada road trip.

The Flames (3-3-1) had their way, outshooting the Flyers, 38-22, and putting the pressure on Brian Elliott.

• The Flyers had difficulty getting the puck up ice, which gave them little chance to play Vigneault's preferred style. When you can't successfully transition the puck out of the defensive zone and through the neutral zone, there's no shot to play a possession-based game.

The issue wasn't effort. The Flyers just weren't sharp and the Flames were fast, dangerous and all over the puck.

• To make matters worse, the Flyers did not help Elliott, who was making his first start of the season. The first two goals allowed were self-inflicted products. The third was an empty-netter.

Elliott made some tough stops and finished with 35 saves. He gave the Flyers an honest chance on the road. They were problematic in front of him.

• The Flames scored what turned out to be the game-winner in the second period. Five seconds after a faceoff in the Flyers' end, Calgary made it 2-0 when Andrew Mangiapane's shot bounced off Travis Sanheim's stick and past Elliott.

• A bright spot among a not-so-bright performance from the Flyers was Matt Niskanen. He scored his first goal as a Flyer on a delayed penalty in the third period. But the 32-year-old has been even better defensively with his decisions, breaking up scoring chances and moving the puck. He has been as advertised and a major improvement on the blue line.

• Jakub Voracek opened the game on the third line with Scott Laughton and Tyler Pitlick after a third-period demotion in last Saturday's 3-2 shootout loss to the Cannucks. Clearly Vigneault wanted to see smarter decisions — and maybe smarter effort — from Voracek, while James van Riemsdyk played on the first line following a solid performance against Vancouver.

With the Flyers trailing, 2-0, the lines were shuffled in the third period and Voracek saw time with Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux but couldn't get much cooking.

Giroux (one assist), Voracek and van Riemsdyk have combined for one point during the first four games. The early drought is uncharted territory for Voracek and van Riemsdyk, who both had previously never gone scoreless through their opening four games of a season.

The good thing is the Flyers know the offense will come from those three and the team is still 2-1-1.

• The Flyers were outmatched in the opening five minutes, when the Flames were a step ahead in every phase and set the tone.

Michael Frolik beat Elliott just 1:35 into the action on an ugly sequence by the Flyers. After Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov misconnected on a pass up ice, Justin Braun failed to clear the puck and then inadvertently tripped Elliott as Frolik blasted his shot.

The Flyers were fortunate to be trailing by only one goal at first intermission. They could have done more than just weather the storm but went 0 for 3 on the power play and finished 0 for 4 overall. They were sluggish and then sloppy.

• The Flyers finish their three-game road trip with the second half of a back-to-back set when they take on Connor McDavid and the Oilers Wednesday (9:30 p.m. ET/NBCSP). Edmonton is 5-1-0 and McDavid has 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in six games.

The Flyers are then back at the Wells Fargo Center Saturday to play the Stars (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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Flyers at Flames: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers at Flames: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

The Flyers will once again try to match a mark set by the team in 2011-12, when the club last went to the playoffs.

The last time the Flyers opened the regular season with at least a point in four straight games was 2011-12 (3-0-1). The 2019-20 Flyers (2-0-1) have a chance to do that Tuesday night when they visit the Flames (2-3-1).

Let's get into the essentials:

When: 9 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Scotiabank Saddledome
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• The Flyers could not have asked for a better start from Travis Konecny, who signed a new six-year, $33 million contract last month.

The 22-year-old winger has three goals and three assists in three games. His six points are the most by any Flyer through the first three games of a season since 2009-10, when defenseman Matt Carle also had six on one goal and five assists.

Going back to last season, the Flyers are 17-4-2 when Konecny scores a goal.

• Keep an eye on Chris Stewart, who is playing his first NHL regular-season game since March 29, 2018. In that game, he was playing for the Flames and scored a goal. Interestingly, he has his most career points against Calgary — 22 on 12 goals and 10 assists.

Also keep an eye on Jakub Voracek, who saw a demotion in the third period of last Saturday's 3-2 shootout loss to the Canucks. Let's see how he responds with his normal minutes and role.

Voracek and James van Riemsdyk are scoreless through the Flyers' first three games.

• The Flames were 26-10-5 at home last season, while putting up 50 wins and 107 points overall, most in the Western Conference.

Johnny Gaudreau is as good as they get, while Sean Monahan has killed the Flyers with 10 goals in 12 career games against the orange and black.

Projected lineup

Forwards

Claude Giroux-Kevin Hayes-Jakub Voracek
Oskar Lindblom-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny
James van Riemsdyk-Scott Laughton-Carsen Twarynski
Tyler Pitlick-Michael Raffl-Chris Stewart

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Justin Braun
Travis Sanheim-Matt Niskanen
Robert Hagg-Shayne Gostisbehere

Goalies

Brian Elliott
Carter Hart

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