Sean Couturier was never that kid standing 20 feet from a road hockey game, stick in hand, shooting rocks, hoping for an invite. Since Day 1 with the Philadelphia Flyers, he’s been part of the action and a valuable member of the team. But like a great character actor who never gets tapped for the starring role, the eighth-overall pick from 2011 always felt like he had more to give. And, boy, was he right. “I felt confident, if I had a better opportunity, I could produce a little more,” said Couturier. “[I’m] finally getting the chance to do that and showcase myself.” His performance this season between right-winger Jakub Voracek and C-turned-LW Claude Giroux on Philly’s reconstructed top line is certainly drawing rave reviews. Couturier has 11 goals and 10 assists for 21 points in 19 games. At his current pace, Couturier — who missed chunks of the past two seasons with injuries — will set a new career high with 40 points at around game No. 36. With 435 career contests already under his belt heading into Saturday afternoon’s tilt with the Calgary Flames, Couturier is one of those veteran youngsters. He won’t turn 25 until Dec. 7 and when he broke into the league at age 18, his mature game — in a weird way — almost worked against him. Because Couturier was more polished defensively than the average teenager, he was able to carve out a niche right from the get-go as a reliable pivot. Before you knew it, though, he was typecast and — whether playing for Peter Laviolette, Craig Berube or current coach Dave Hakstol at the start of Hakstol’s tenure — he was deployed more like a Selke Trophy candidate than an Art Ross threat. That changed this year when Hakstol swapped Giroux out to the flank and bumped Couturier’s average ice time by about two minutes per game. The former Drummondville Voltigeurs scoring star has certainly validated the decision. “That’s always been my thinking, score goals and produce,” said Couturier. “It’s just nice being in that situation this year where you’re counted on to outscore the opposing line every night.” Couturier said his previous existence playing lower in the lineup was simply a case of doing what was best for the club. Now, what’s ideal for Philly is turning this complete player loose.
Flyers’ Sean Couturier making most of offensive opportunity
Sportsnet | Nov 18