Sean Couturier

Plenty of leftovers as Flyers eat up vs. Red Wings on Black Friday

Plenty of leftovers as Flyers eat up vs. Red Wings on Black Friday

BOX SCORE

Playing an inferior opponent on Black Friday, the Flyers took care of business at home by beating the Red Wings, 6-1.

The Flyers (14-7-5) started slowly but Carter Hart did not and the team turned it on behind him.

Kevin Hayes, Sean Couturier, Oskar Lindblom, James van Riemsdyk, Shayne Gostisbehere and Scott Laughton all scored goals for the Flyers, who are 9-2-4 during November, earning at least a point in all but two games (see highlights).

Since Oct. 21, the Flyers are 12-4-4 with 28 points, second most in the NHL over that stretch. There are still games to play Friday across the NHL, but impressive nonetheless.

With the victory, the Flyers are 8-1-4 at home and will finish the first two months of the season with only one regulation loss at the Wells Fargo Center. The last time the Flyers pulled that off was the 2003-04 season, before the days of the shootout when games could end in a tie.

The NHL-worst Red Wings (7-18-3) have lost eight straight games.

 • Steady veteran defenseman Matt Niskanen, who has been integral to the Flyers’ improvements, had a Dylan Larkin shot deflect off his face 7:23 into the game, drawing a good bit of blood.

Fortunately for the Flyers, Niskanen returned at the start of the second period with some new gear.

Tough dude.

• Niskanen, with the cage, lifted a sharp pass to Couturier for an important goal in the second period, giving the Flyers a 3-1 lead right before intermission.

Jakub Voracek pointed at Niskanen as the Flyers celebrated.

The accomplished 32-year-old finished with two assists and has been a massive acquisition by general manager Chuck Fletcher (see story).

Niskanen and Ivan Provorov were a combined plus-7.

• Gostisbehere returned to the lineup following three healthy scratches and exhibited the offensive skill head coach Alain Vigneault has wanted to see from the 26-year-old defenseman.

On a first-period man advantage, Gostisbehere made a strong play to spin and fling the puck back toward the net, which found its way past Detroit goalie Calvin Pickard.

The marker was his second goal and seventh point on the season. He was solid and the Flyers suddenly have internal competition on the blue line.

“It’s refreshing to get back into the lineup with a nothing-to-lose mentality,” Gostisbehere said at first intermission, via Flyers public relations. “Just go out there and be the player that I know I can be and have fun again. I was putting a little too much pressure on myself and maybe not being the best teammate.”

• Hart was one of the Flyers’ best players Friday — and all of November, as well.

The 21-year-old made highlight-reel saves (32 stops in total) against the Red Wings and was reliable with the Flyers not at their best, especially early in the game.

During the month, Hart is 6-2-2 with a 1.95 goals-against average and has allowed two or fewer goals in eight of 10 starts.

Pickard, who played 11 games for the Flyers last season, converted 29 saves in his first game with the Red Wings.

• Laughton has been a stud since returning after a 13-game absence because of a broken finger.

The valuable depth piece scored the game’s opening goal and slung a nice pass to Hayes for a tally to begin the third period, when the Flyers took over.

• Travis Konecny appeared to be hampered by some sort of ailment as he labored throughout the game. He played from start to finish but didn’t have his usual speed.

He recorded a season-low 13:39 ice time. Something to watch moving forward.

• Jakub Voracek had three assists, while Couturier had another multi-point game with a goal and an assist. The do-it-all center has 15 points (six goals, nine assists) and a plus-10 rating in his last 16 games.

• The Flyers' penalty kill is 53 for 59 (89.8 percent) since Oct. 21, best in the NHL over that span.

• The Flyers wrap up November on Saturday when they visit the Canadiens (3 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

 

Hitting the road this week, or wasting away on the couch in a food coma? The perfect time to binge your favorite NBC Sports Philadelphia podcast! Click here for more.

More on the Flyers

What should Flyers fans be thankful for on Thanksgiving?

What should Flyers fans be thankful for on Thanksgiving?

Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's Katie Emmer and Jordan Hall.

The topic: What should Flyers fans be thankful for on Thanksgiving? 

Emmer

Sean Couturier. He’s been a reliable player that makes good plays with and without the puck and he’s someone the Flyers are thankful for, especially in the month of November. 

An upper-body injury limited Couturier in the faceoff dot early in the month, but he still produced in other ways. Coots’ 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in November lead the team.

Not only is his production something, but also his ability to complement his linemates. Take Jakub Voracek for example, who was placed on a line with Couturier simply to increase his production:

We're trying to get [Jakub Voracek] going, and everybody that's played with [Sean Couturier] has found a pretty good level of success. That might jump start [Voracek] a little bit. We obviously need him playing well.

- Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault on Nov. 21, via NHL.com

And since that move, Voracek has three points in four games, including the GWG over the Canucks on Monday, which helped him get “the swagger back.”

Couturier and his 200-foot abilities are something to be thankful for.

Hall

Carter Hart and Brian Elliott.

Yes, Elliott, as well. Don’t forget him.

Goaltending has not made headlines so far and that is only a positive in Philadelphia.

Here are the numbers during the Flyers’ 8-2-4 November:

Hart — 5-2-2, 2.05 goals-against average, .921 save percentage.

Elliott — 3-0-2, 2.28 goals-against average, .926 save percentage.

At Thanksgiving last year, the Flyers had already played four goalies en route to playing an NHL-record eight by season’s end.

Hart has been strong and the 34-year-old Elliott held down the fort when the 21-year-old went through a rough patch in October.

The Flyers have some stability in net and fans will surely be thankful for that.

Hitting the road this week, or wasting away on the couch in a food coma? The perfect time to binge your favorite NBC Sports Philadelphia podcast! Click here for more.

More on the Flyers

Jakub Voracek has 'that f--- you attitude' back thanks to quiet force Sean Couturier

Jakub Voracek has 'that f--- you attitude' back thanks to quiet force Sean Couturier

Sean Couturier was asked why it has worked so well in head coach Alain Vigneault’s strategy to use the 26-year-old center as a sparkplug for struggling teammates.

“I don’t know,” Couturier said with a modest laugh to start his answer.

Couturier is reserved and unassuming. His toothless smile seeks more attention than he does, when the do-it-all player has all the right to say look at me.

But that just isn’t him.

So allow Jakub Voracek to tell you what Couturier can do for a player.

“I feel like I have a swagger back,” Voracek said after the Flyers’ 2-1 win Monday night over the Canucks. “If I don’t play with a swagger, I think that’s what was missing. I’ve got the swagger back and kind of that f--- you attitude that I need to have to be successful.”

Not so quiet.

Last Thursday, Vigneault placed Voracek on Couturier’s line with Oskar Lindblom. Over the previous 11 games, Voracek had no goals, four assists and a minus-3 rating. In three games with Couturier, Voracek has two goals, an assist and a plus-3 mark.

Against the Canucks, Voracek notched an assist and scored the game-winner in the third period, while Couturier also registered a multi-point game. He has 13 points (five goals, eight assists) and a plus-8 rating in the Flyers’ last 14 games.

“He’s helping everyone,” Voracek said. “He’s always in the right position, same with Oskar. They are both really easy to read off of. For me to keep a little bit of speed kind of helped me, so I don’t have to stop and start all the time, which is really hard to do for an 82-game season.”

While Couturier is not the ostentatious type, his style of play possesses that f--- you attitude with the opposition. He’s a nightmare to draw in the faceoff circle, he’ll grind you defensively and wear you down offensively.

Canucks star Elias Pettersson was held without a point and shot by the Flyers for just the second time this season. The 21-year-old center came into the Wells Fargo Center with 29 points (10 goals, 19 assists) over 24 games.

“Coots is one of the best defensive forwards putting up huge offensive numbers," Voracek said. “He knows what to do to make the other top lines miserable.”

And make his teammates happy.

“I’ve got to say that everybody that I’ve played with Coots has played well,” Vigneault said. “I don’t know if that’s Coots or guys getting excited playing with him. Coots is a real solid 200-foot player. You can trust him as a coach in defensive situations. Offensively, again tonight, that line was real effective.”

Couturier doesn’t need to tell anyone. Voracek served as a proper reminder.

 

Hitting the road this week, or wasting away on the couch in a food coma? The perfect time to binge your favorite NBC Sports Philadelphia podcast! Click here for more.

More on the Flyers