In last night’s win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, Flyers’ center Sean Couturier left the game early. After taking his first two shifts, Coots took a clean hit from Jared McCann, instantly sending him up the tunnel with the Flyers’ training staff.
As a result of this hit, the reigning Selke award winner will miss a minimum of two weeks, per the Flyers’.
The significance of losing Coots was shown in last night’s game. Despite the Flyers winning the game 5-2, the Penguins controlled most of the first two periods. Simply having Couturier on the ice would have helped Philly with slowing the game down, and locking down Sidney Crosby. Even though Malkin has struggled in the first two games, Coots would have provided even more control over one of the Penguins’ top offensive players.
Obviously, the next man up would be 13th man Morgan Frost. Frost, who had a really strong training camp, was brought onto the team for pretty much this exact scenario. In 20 games last year, Frost put together 7 NHL points, including a goal in his first career game. The Flyers’ organization is confident in their former first round pick, and are excited to have him get some playing time.
The loss of Coots will also shuffle the lines around. Frost will not thrive well in a 4C role, so that instantly throws a wrench into things. Look for Scott Laughton to stay in the 4C spot, and for Hayes to slide up to 1C. With that said, Nolan Patrick will likely take the 2C responsibilities, giving Frost room to center JvR and Voracek if all stays the same otherwise. However, last season, when Frost made his debut, coach Alain Vigneault centered Frost between Travis Konecny and Claude Giroux.
Whatever the case is, Morgan Frost is not Sean Couturier… at least not yet. Losing Coots will jumble the Flyers completely, both on each special teams unit and 5 on 5. Losing arguably their best overall player will be a huge blow, however the Flyers’ luckily have depth capable to keep their winning streak alive when they face off against Buffalo on Monday night.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre