Always known for his aggressive play, Sean Couturier has seemingly changed overnight. All of a sudden he is one of the Philadelphia Flyers top scorers.
Sean Couturier is beloved by Philadelphia Flyers fans for multiple reasons, but mostly because of his ability to play with a grittiness that is rarely seen in the NHL in this day and age. Never much of a goal scorer, this season he’s been able to transform his play style in order to keep up with a changing game.
Every year it’s been a good bet to see Couturier playing on the second or third line, with the role of finding his teammate’s open shots and defending the opponents best player, but this year his role is much different. Head Coach Dave Hakstol realized from the very beginning of the season that Couturier can be much more than a role player, sliding him onto the first line and transitioning captain Claude Giroux from center to left wing. It was a shocking change, but so far so good for all involved.
Playing more of a primary role on the team has done wonders, as Couturier has already blown past his career high in goals (25) and points (45). The sudden uptick in scoring can be attributed to a change of style for Couturier, while he still fights in front of the goalie in order to score dirty goals, he has shown more of a willingness to shoot the open wrist or slap shots that he may have passed upon in the past. His new style of play does much more than show up on the stat sheet, his new linemate Giroux is having a resurgent year because of the energy Couturier brings every game. After a severe slump all of last season, Giroux has already tied his goal mark from last year (14) in 39 fewer games.
Couturier has always been an effective player, but at this stage in his career an onslaught of goals like fans are seeing has been unexpected, yet very welcomed. With a move to the top line and more confidence given by management, Couturier has grown into the player that the team thought they were drafting eighth overall in the 2011 draft, which is a player that the team can build around.
The reason why fans love him so much is that Couturier emulates exactly what the city of Philadelphia is, hard-working and gritty to the fullest extent. It was only a matter of time before the hard-nosed center finally found the back of the net with regularity, and now that it is happening, it is paying dividends for the Flyers.