Sean Couturier and Cam Atkinson, who didn’t play last season due to injuries, are in the lineup for the Flyers’ preseason opener Monday night at New Jersey.
“Right now I feel pretty good,” Couturier, 30, said Monday at Flyers Training Camp. “Trying to approach it like any other game but it’s been a while. Obviously, there’s some things where I’m trying to adjust, adapt with my timing. Looking forward to it just to see how it goes in a real game and go from there.”
Couturier hasn’t played since December 2021 and has had two back surgeries since he first went out.
“Physically, my skating, I feel pretty good,” Couturier said. “It’s more my execution, my hands around the net, the finish aren’t quite there. I feel every day it’s gotten better and better. I’m just trying to build and getting better.”
Taking a hit is a possibility in any game and that’s something Couturier hasn’t done in a year-and-a-half.
“It can happen in a preseason game,” Couturier said.
“You have a lot of probably young guys, American Hockey League guys trying to prove themselves, doing everything they can to get noticed.
“It can get physical at times in these exhibition games. It’s a good test. I’m not scared of it and I’m looking forward to it.”
Tonight’s game is the first of six preseason games for the Flyers. “I’ve been waiting for this moment for awhile. All summer I’ve been thinking about it,” Couturier said. “Now I’m here. I’m just excited to get the warmups going, get the first shift out of the way and just play hockey. That’s what I miss the most.”
Phantoms coach Ian Laperriere will coach the Flyers tonight.
“I think it’s more for them,” Laperriere said. “They’ve missed so much time they want to see how they feel. Scrimmages are one thing, practices are another thing. But preseason — every camp even as a player you go through scrimmages against your friends. It’s intense but not really. First preseason game it cranks up a little bit and more and more and that’s part of the process for those two guys.
“They’re healthy, they’re clear. I won’t play those guys 25 minutes [laughing]. They’ll play regular shifts, special teams.”
In goal, Cal Petersen will play the first two periods and Felix Sandstrom will play the third period.