After spending years as a defensive stalwart, Sean Couturier has been an absolute revelation for the Philadelphia Flyers. But can he keep it up all season?
After suffering through a tough year last season, the entire team looks rejuvenated and is playing with an energy that hasn’t been seen in quite some time. Claude Giroux, the Flyers’ longtime top center, is now playing left winger as Wayne Simmonds has been moved to the second line, and the defense has received an influx of young talent. Making so many moves like this is very atypical for the Flyers, who’ve shown in the past an unwillingness to try new things.
And while all of these moves have already made a big impact on the team, none have helped more than the move to insert Couturier as the top center.
Known for his defensive-minded game, Couturier has established himself as a spark plug on offense so far this season. Leading the team with nine goals and a team-leading 18-points, Couturier has played with a hard-nosed style that fits perfectly alongside his linemates style of play. Both Giroux and Jake Voracek have a similar style of play in that they both focus on quickness and finesse. By working in front of the net and along the boards, Couturier has routinely set up both Giroux and Voracek for easier shots, a key reason why the Flyers top line has developed into one of the leagues highest scoring lines.
The decision to move Giroux to left wing in order to accommodate Couturier on the top line didn’t sit well with many, but now that the Flyers have had some success through their first 15 games those critics have quickly quieted. Already only six goals away from his career high of 15 in 2014-15, Couturier is doing everything right and giving the Flyers some much needed offensive firepower. By working with two of the leagues best scorers, Couturier is playing with a renewed energy and confidence. His newfound offensive game paired with his already outstanding defensive game is quickly making him one of the better two-way players in the entire NHL.
The top line has been one of the Flyers strongest areas so far this season thanks to Couturier. His ascent to the top line has come with a charisma and fire that has been missing from Broad Street for some time. He doesn’t need to shoulder the load on offense, but now that he’s shown more promise on that side of the ice, he could be on the way to establishing himself as a true star for Philadelphia, not just a defensive specialist.