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Flyers’ Injury Updates Grim on Sean Couturier, Cam Atkinson

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Sean Couturier. Philadelphia Flyers (AP photo)
Sean Couturier, the Flyers' top-line center, has had a setback and has stopped skating, per coach John Tortorella

Philadelphia Flyers coach John Tortorella gave brief medical updates Thursday on center Sean Couturier and right winger Cam Atkinson, and the news was not encouraging.

Couturier, 29. had back surgery in February. He re-injured the back and did not participate in training camp. About three weeks ago, he resumed skating — doctors said he did not need another surgery — and said he felt “better and better every day.”

GM Chuck Fletcher said it was “the best he’s felt” since before the surgery.

But the Philadelphia Flyers’ top-line center has had a setback. On Thursday, Tortorella said the Flyers had shut down Couturier from skating.

“He’s just not ready to skate right now,” Tortorella said. “That’s a ways away.”

Atkinson, 33, sidelined all season by an undisclosed upper-body injury, also is not skating.

It sounds like the Philadelphia Flyers (4-2), who host Florida (4-2-1) on Thursday, will be missing two of their best offensive players for a long time.

“I’m not thinking about them right now, as far as lineups in the near future,” Tortorella said. “So we just have to wait and see what happens.”

Heading into the season, Tortorella had been optimistic Atkinson would be ready for the opener.

“Things just changed,” Tortorella said. “I’m not going to get into a long conversation about it. Things changed, and it just went the other way. That’s one frustrated young man right there. He wants to be a big part of this; he was probably one of the better players here last year.”

Tortorella said Atkinson’s “body is just now allowing him to get to a spot where he can start conditioning again and start getting ready to play. I’m hoping that could change as quickly as it went the wrong way. Hoping it can go as quickly the right way.”

Breakaways

The Flyers will use seven defensemen against Florida. … Tortorella said defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen and RW Owen Tippett will not be on any time restriction in Thursday’s matchup. Both are returning to the lineup from injuries. Tippett, who will be facing his former team for the first time, hasn’t played since the opener. Ristolainen will be making his season debut. … Carter Hart (4-0, 1.75 GAA. .949 save percentage) will start for the Flyers. Among goalies who have played at least three games, Hart is tied for second in the NHL in wins, third in save percentage, and fourth in goals-against average. … The Flyers have outscored their opponents, 10-9, in five-on-five situations. … Center Patrick Brown, rehabbing from back surgery, took part in practice.

Throwback Thursday

The Flyers will host their first Throwback Thursday tonight, celebrating the teams of the 1960s and 1970s.

Betting line

Money line (Fan Duel): Panthers are minus-205, Flyers are plus-168.

Pick: Florida, 4-2, with an empty-net goal.

Prediction record: 2-4.

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