WASHINGTON — The Flyers will have to beat the NHL-best Capitals without Sean Couturier.
The Flyers announced Friday afternoon their best defensive forward is out two weeks with an upper-body injury.
A source confirmed to CSNPhilly.com’s Tim Panaccio late Thursday night that Couturier would miss the remainder of the series with an AC sprain in his left shoulder (see story).
Two weeks will have Couturier sidelined until April 28. Game 7 — if needed — is scheduled for April 27.
During the Flyers’ 2-0 Game 1 loss Thursday in their best-of-seven first-round playoff series with Washington, Couturier was checked into the boards near the center-ice line at 11:13 of the second period by Alex Ovechkin.
He left the game moments later and did not return.
The Flyers went 6-9-4 in games the 23-year-old missed this season. Couturier was a plus-8 during the regular season, tied with Shayne Gostisbehere for third on the team, and recorded 11 goals and 28 assists for 39 points in 63 games. In his final 18 games, he posted 14 points (12 assists, two goals), a stretch in which the Flyers went 11-4-3 to clinch a playoff berth on the second-to-last day of the regular season.
Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said Friday the Flyers had a rough adjustment to playing without Couturier in February, when he missed nine straight games with a lower-body injury.
“I think we learned a lot early on,” Hakstol said. “The first time that we were without him, I don’t think as a team we were ready to handle that. More recently I think we’ve handled it very well. I think our presence in handling different adversities over the last few months as a team has been excellent, and I don’t expect it to be any differently in any situation.”
The injury means Brayden Schenn will likely shift from the wing to center, his natural position. Schenn is adept at playing all three forward roles, something he’s done this season.
“Schenner has been able to do that throughout the year, so if we need to make that change, I know he’ll be comfortable doing it,” Hakstol said (see story). “He’s very comfortable in both of those spots, in fact all three spots up front.”
Before knowing Couturier’s diagnosis and status, Schenn understood all the two-way forward does for the Flyers.
“He’s huge for our team,” Schenn said. “He plays both ends of the ice for us, power play and PK. I’m not sure how long he’s out for but it’s a hole we’ve got to fill. It’s an opportunity for other guys to step up and try and succeed in his role.
Scott Laughton will likely take Couturier’s spot in the lineup. The 22-year-old Laughton has played just two games since March 24 but said he’s prepared.
“You’ve got to keep ready,” he said (see story). “I think that’s what I’ve been talking to the coaches about, too, just staying ready. Like I said, if my name is called, I’ll be ready. That’s what I’ve been working at the last two or three weeks is skating and working on my game.
“I think I can bring a little fire to this series, too.”
The Flyers held an optional skate Friday. Some players rode the stationary bike for light exercise ahead of Saturday night's Game 2.