The Flyers are flying high right now. At the end of October, the Flyers were sitting at .500 with a record of 5-5-1. Since the start of November, they have yet to lose a game in regulation. Through six games, they are 5-0-1 and have earned 11 out of a possible 12 points. They carry a four game winning streak into Wednesday night’s game versus the Washington Capitals. Something fans aren’t used to seeing: they have outscored their opponents 6-0 in the first period in this streak and they’re 3-2 in shootouts on the season. That’s not too bad of a start now is it?
While it has all-in-all been a team effort, there have been a few individuals who have stepped up to push this team into the win column and keep them there. One of those guys is fan favorite and center of the Flyers’ current most effective line, Sean Couturier.
Through seventeen games with the Flyers this season, Couturier has registered 13 points (5G, 8A). While it was a bit of a slow start for the 26-year-old center, Couturier has been rolling as of late. He now has points in 6 of his last games tallying 8 points (3G, 5A) and has been a huge contribution to success in games overall.
Back on November 1st versus the New Jersey Devils, he attempted and executed what is commonly known as the “Forsberg move” to give the Flyers the lead in the shootout that later proved to be the winner after Carter Hart denied Devils forward Taylor Hall and sealed the deal.
Fast forward to this past Thursday’s game versus the Montreal Canadiens and Couturier was at it again. Not even a minute into overtime, Couturier snuck a shot past Carey Price using the defenseman as a screen to give the Flyers a 3-2 overtime win.
He wasn’t done there though. This past Saturday in Toronto, Couturier sealed another shootout victory for the Flyers when he juked out Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen for yet another beauty in the shootout. Overall, Couturier is 2 for 3 in the shootout this season.
So what has attributed to the Flyers recent surge of late? According to Couturier, it’s all about starting off the game the right way.
“I think we’re starting the game really well”, said Couturier following practice. “We’re playing the right way; we’re structured. At the end of the day, we’re finding ways to get two points even if we get a little let down at one point but I think it’s just sticking together and believing and sticking to the structure”.
The Flyers second line continues to do damage
The Flyers second line is firing on all cylinders. A line made up of Oskar Lindblom, Sean Couturier, and Travis Konecny is one Alain Vigneault has decided to leave alone for the most part and for good reason. Night in and night out, these three guys go out and produce whether it be at even-strength or on the power play. In all situations, the line has combined for 46 points (21G, 25A).
Oskar Lindblom (LW): 14 pts (8G, 6A)
Sean Couturier (C): 13 pts (5G, 8A)
Travis Konecny (RW): 19 pts (8G, 11A)
On the power play alone, they’ve combined for 14 points (6G, 8A) making the second power play unit just as dangerous as the first. Oskar Lindblom leads the way with three goals on the man advantage.
Couturier and Lindblom play in all situations. Whether it be at even strength, on the powerplay, or shorthanded, they’re out there. Konecny on the other hand rarely sees time when the Flyers are down a man. However, he’s a force to be reckoned with at 5-on-5 and on the powerplay.
At this point, it’s no longer fair to consider it the “second line,” when they produce at the rate that the top line should.
“I think each guy brings something to the line different”, said Couturier. “I mean I try to be a responsible two-hundred-foot player. Oskar is just a really smart player that wins a lot of board battles and sees the ice really well and TK (Travis Konecny), I mean he’s got a lot of speed. He brings speed to our line and some skill and I think it’s just, you know, just a little bit of everything coming together. But what I like about our line is I guess we’re playing the right way. We’re not cheating for offense. We’re playing responsible hockey. I mean, Oskar’s always kind of been that way. TK I feel he’s really matured in his game you know, making right decisions at the right time and I think you can you know, see the difference in his production and his overall game”.
Showdown with the Capitals
On Wednesday night, the Flyers will face off against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals at the Wells Fargo Center. This will be the first of four meetings between these two teams this season and the first of two that will take place in South Philadelphia.
The Capitals six game win streak was snapped Monday night as the Arizona Coyotes defeated Washington by a final score of 4-3 in a shootout . They now sit at 13-2-4 but still remain at the top of the Metropolitan Division. The Flyers will have their hands full when these two teams go to battle tomorrow night. Somehow, some way, the Flyers will have to match the intensity level of their division rival and a familiar face, Radko Gudas.
“I guess be ready from the start” said Couturier. ” They’re going to come at us. They’re big, they’re fast, they’re skilled. We’ll have to be ready to win a lot of battles and be ready to skate and try to limit their time and space to those skilled players”.
Slowing down one of the greats in Alex Ovechkin is a whole other story. In 53 career games played versus the Flyers, Ovechkin has registered 59 points (34G, 25A). However, last season, Ovechkin tallied only 4 points (1G, 3A) in four games against the Flyers. Either way, he’s someone to watch out for at all times when out on the ice. Couturier will likely be tasked with shutting him down for a good portion of the game.
Puck Drop is set for 7:30 PM from the Wells Fargo Center.