DENVER — The last time Sean Couturier was on the ice with the Flyers was Nov. 22 in Florida, when he suffered an MCL sprain in his left knee against the Panthers after a collision with Vincent Trocheck.
Couturier returned to the ice on Wednesday morning at the team skate, wearing a brace he'll keep on his knee for the remainder of this season.
The Flyers are now 10-2 without him in the lineup after a 4-3 win over the Avalanche (see story).
General manager Ron Hextall doesn’t expect Couturier to rejoin the lineup until after the Christmas break.
Couturier skated several times on his own last week but this was his first time back with teammates.
“Feeling good,” he said, adding that he expects to play sometime during the Flyers' post-Christmas road trip out west.
He said his pain level now is “fine.”
“It’s different getting back on the ice,” he said. “It’s been a while. It’s getting better every day. The brace is supporting me pretty good.
“The biggest challenge right now is maybe getting used to the brace. It’s different skating with that.”
The Flyers want Couturier to wear the brace until season’s end as a precautionary measure. Couturier said he needs to get used to it.
“Tons of guys play with it and say they don’t even feel they’re wearing it anymore,” he said. “Lot of guys use it even if they don’t have the injury anymore. Once you get used to it, you get comfortable with it even if [the knee is] 100 percent healthy.”
Couturier was joined by teammate Matt Read (oblique pull) on the ice. Read won’t play until after the break, as well, but the timetable is less certain.
Read was hurt in Nashville on Dec. 4 when he was checked into the goal post by Filip Forsberg. Read skated longer on the ice than Couturier.
He was struggling with the thin air.
“It’s Colorado and my lungs aren’t there,” he said. “Besides that, I’m fine and feeling better. It’s tough to sit out but at the same time, the team’s playing good.
“I want to get back in as soon as possible, but as long as they’re winning, you don’t have to rush back like it was a nine-game losing streak.”