Flyers Phlight Deck: When will Sean Couturier return?


As the Philadelphia Flyers get ready to host the Boston Bruins, we receive an update on the status of Sean Couturier.

The Philadelphia Flyers are on a hot streak, winning their last four games on the way to standing atop of the NHL in the standings. Two regulation victories over the New Jersey Devils and overtime wins over the New York Islanders have put Broad street in a great position. It is not time to rest on laurels, especially with the Boston Bruins in town this week.

Winless against the Beantown club, the Flyers have an opportunity to earn more revenge this week. Today, we observe some of the updates for Philadelphia and other news before their battle with the Bruins tomorrow night in the Flyers Phlight Deck.

Defensive pairing updates

Out of the gate, we’re discussing the defensive pairings that could take the ice tomorrow at 8PM. The last time around, Philadelphia was without Philippe Myers and Shayne Gostisbehere in the lineup. They will be on the first and second pairings tomorrow night, leaving Justin Braun and Erik Gustafsson on the third pair. The extra defensemen will be Robert Hagg and Nate Prosser – two stay at home defensemen who’ve held their own as of late.

Adding Gostisbehere and Myers to the lineup could help a Flyers defense that struggled previously against Boston. Against the Islanders, Gostisbehere helped guide Philadelphia to an overtime victory, sending a beautiful, long pass to Scott Laughton for the overtime game-winner.

Myers has been one of the best defensemen on the ice for the Flyers in the last two games. Braun and Gustafsson work best on the third pair in smaller doses. If they can anchor the defense on Wednesday night, they’ll make a case to be back in the lineup on Friday.

Prosser and Hagg are two defensive defensemen who thrive in positioning and shot-blocking aspects. The Bruins scored the majority of their goals in-close, cleaning up rebounds left by Carter Hart. A challenge at hand will be clearing the puck successfully and limiting defensive zone turnovers. Mike Yeo and Alain Vigneault will likely make defensive changes as they have through the 2020-2021 season to keep their defensemen fresh on the third pair. Expect to see a rotation of these four defensemen to some degree through the upcoming two-game series at home versus Boston.

Couturier Returns To Practice

One superstar player who was injured returned to practice. There were no absences to list for Philadelphia, who welcomed back Sean Couturier. The Flyers’ main roster is almost healthy.

Couturier, who missed time dating back to the opening series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, skated on the secondary rink earlier today. To date, he has been out for more than two weeks with a Costochondral separation. His injury means that part of his rib tore away from cartilage that connects to the breast bone. Usually, this is an injury that takes anywhere between six to twelve weeks of recovery. Chuck Fletcher noted that Couturier could be back in the lineup within 7-10 days.

Other Flyers Injury Updates

Last week, Isaac Ratcliffe skated at practice. He was recovering from a fractured rib and collapsed lung. Skating today almost certainly means he is making an effort to join the Lehigh Valley Phantoms for the AHL season. During training camp, Vigneault said, “I mentioned it to Lappy when we were standing at the net, ‘those two kids are learning the NHL pace.'” Ratcliffe could be an asset but is still a few weeks away from returning to full practice.

Wade Allison, who found his way onto the “unfit to play” list towards the end of training camp, is out 4-5 weeks. Recently, he had surgery on his ankle. In the final days of training camp, Allison left the ice before a team scrimmage. At the time, per the NHL and NHLPA agreement, no word was released on his status. Once he makes a full recovery, expect Allison to further develop in Lehigh Valley.

Unfortunately, Morgan Frost will likely miss the rest of the 2020-2021 season. He underwent shoulder surgery after exiting early during a 3-0 victory against the Buffalo Sabres. Frost provided a spark during his short time with Philadelphia, filling in for Couturier. Until Couturier returns, Connor Bunnaman will likely remain in the lineup on the fourth line. Fletcher is focusing on making sure Frost will be healthy for the 2021-2022 season.

Mark Friedman’s status

It has been no secret that Vigneault has not been impressed by Mark Friedman this season. He’s remarked that his “expectations are higher” of Friedman’s play. Vigneault decided to start Prosser over Friedman, who had a goal in his only Flyers appearance. Currently, Friedman is the ninth defenseman on Philadelphia’s depth chart. The expectation is that Friedman will spend time with the Phantoms this season.

It’s Flyers Reverse Retro Uniforms time

To much fanfare, the Flyers will debut their reverse retro uniforms tomorrow night against the Bruins. Dates have been released for the 2020-2021 season when Philadelphia will sport their new look jerseys. The dates for the reverse retro look are:

AHL News

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms were expected to play their only pre-season game tonight against the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins. That game has been rescheduled due to inclement weather. The pre-season game will take place on February 4th, 2021, at 6:05pm from the PPL Center. The Phantoms’ regular-season opener versus the Hershey Bears remains February 6th, 2021, at the Giant Center.

Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre