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Flyers, Tortorella Take Huge Gamble With Sean Couturier Scratch



Sean Couturier
Philadelphia Flyers captain Sean Couturier has scored once in his last 18 games. (Photo: AP)

Philadelphia Flyers center and captain Sean Couturier was one of the last players off the ice for Tuesday’s morning skate ahead of the team’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. With that, it’s likely Couturier is a healthy scratch for the first time this season and for the first time in a while.

With little depth behind him, Flyers head coach John Tortorella is taking a massive gamble by scratching Couturier.

Indeed, Couturier has struggled immensely for the Flyers offensively, having produced just one goal and four assists in his last 18 games. The 31-year-old has also accrued a plus-minus rating of minus-14 across that span.

While plus-minus is not at all an accurate indicator of individual play and performance, it does show that the Flyers are generally getting punished with Couturier on the ice lately.

The captain doesn’t agree, though, and he’s made his thoughts clear.

“It doesn’t matter what I think, honestly. Got to leave my ego aside, I guess,” a sullen Couturier explained after the morning skate. “Hopefully, the team finds a way to get a win here tonight, and I can get back into it soon.”

It goes without saying that Couturier, even when not 100%, is a significant loss for the Flyers. The Orange and Black will have to take on Auston Matthews, William Nylander, John Tavares and company without him, and he has a Frank J. Selke Trophy to his name for a reason.

Not only do the Flyers hope to survive this game, but the ones to follow, too. Taking your captain out of the lineup is a huge risk, especially barely one month after raving about his leadership and how popular he was in the locker room.

Given the stress around this time of year, Tortorella had better hope this gamble pays off. Otherwise, he risks having a splintered locker room.

“Definitely frustrated the way, I guess, I’ve been treated around lately” Couturier said. “It is what it is.”

Does Couturier know what specifically he needs to do in order to be reinstated into the Flyers’ lineup?

“Not really. . . Just ‘need to see more’.”

Overall, Couturier has 11 goals, 25 assists, and 36 points in 64 games for the Flyers this season.

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