Did Flyers Forward Valtteri Filppula Unlock Sean Couturier’s Offensive Skills?

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The upcoming NHL season is right around the corner. In about a month or so, NHL training camps will finally open for business. Fans will once again hear the pounding of the sticks on the ice, as well as the bells and whistles of the game. For some it’s a day they have been looking forward to all year.

It’s no secret the Philadelphia Flyers have been offensively inconsistent the past few seasons. One reason for the inconsistent attack has been the ever great forward Sean Couturier. In his short career, Couturier has been widely known as a great shut down forward. However, the Flyers were hoping that Couturier would have developed more offensively this past season.

After being a 2nd line center for the majority of his NHL career. Couturier was moved to center the third line, after the Flyers acquired Valtteri Filppula from the Tampa Bay Lightning at the trading deadline. The move paid huge dividends for Couturier and the Flyers, as he finally became more offensive minded. With a full season of Filppula at the helm for the Flyers, could this finally be the year Couturier showcases his offensive skills?

At age 24, Couturier plays in all types of situations. He is a reliable penalty killer, and Couturier quarterbacks the 2nd power play unit. For his career, he has registered 69 goals, and 119 assists for 178 points in 411 games played.

“Coots” has been more of a defensive minded center in his young career, but he is gifted offensively. He registered 192 points in back to back seasons in junior hockey. Couturier finished the 2016-17 season with 14 goals, and 20 assists for a total of 34 points in 66 games played. But, he appeared to have stepped it up a notch offensively with the addition of Filppula. The Filppula trade allowed the Flyers to move Couturier to center the third line, while Filppula centered the second line.

This move paid huge dividends for the 24 year old Couturier. He produced 5 goals, and 12 assists for a total of 17 points in 20 games, post the Filppula trade. What’s even more impressive is that he finished the final 19 games of the season with a plus 18 rating. Couturier finished the season on a line centering Dale Weise, and Brayden Schenn. Was Filppula the catalyst to get Couturier’s offensive engine running?

Filppula became an instant hit in Philadelphia. He went on to register 5 goals, and 3 assists for a total of 8 points in 20 games played for the Flyers. Filppula brought size, speed, and energy as a second line center. These areas were missing on the second line before the Flyers acquired him.

The 32 year old rugged center, wanted to showcase his skills for the Flyers after they acquired him. During his short time with the Flyers, Filppula has shown he has the will and the skill set to continue to succeed at a high level in the NHL.

With his speed Filppula gives the Flyers options for this once struggling offense. He has good hands, and he sees the ice very well. For his career he has registered 157 goals, and 273 assists for a total of 430 points in 795 games played.

There is no denying that Filppula was behind Couturier’s new offensive success. Of course, “Coots” will not admit that. However, it is possible that Couturier was motivated to prove his doubters wrong, after being demoted to center the third line in favor of Filppula. This one move could be the signature move that unlocked Couturier’s offensive talent.

After the season concluded, Couturier commented on the Filppula acquisition,I think it just brought some depth to our lineup. I had the chance to play after that with Schenn and Weiser and we just found chemistry right away and things went really well.”

This American born player in Couturier hopefully has found his groove offensive wise. If his numbers increase this year close to 50-60 points, then he would find himself in the running for a Selke Trophy (Given to the best forward, who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive area of the game). Only time will tell if Couturier has a career year points wise. One thing is certain Flyers fans the future is bright in Flyer land.

 

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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