Sean Couturier had a decent offensive year. He had 15 goals and 37 points, good for fifth among Flyers forwards on the season. It's not ground-breaking or anything, but when you compare it with the fact that coach Craig Berube uses him almost entirely as a defensive specialist, it's actually kind of impressive.
Let's talk more about that defensive specialist thing for a minute, because he's honestly being used in that role more so than just about any regular player in the league.
Among all NHL forwards that played at least 1,000 minutes at five-on-five in 2014-15, Couturier started the fewest percentage of his shifts in the offensive end of the ice -- just 25.5 percent. Of that same group of forwards, Couturier also started the highest percentage of shifts in the defensive end of the ice -- 38.7 percent of his total 5v5 shifts. We don't even need to get into talk about guys he's tasked with playing against -- often the Crosbys, Ovechkins and Tavares' of the world -- to notice that this is keeping him at an offensive disadvantage.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that it's harder to score goals if you're starting the majority of your shifts at the hard end of the ice. But apparently it's not an easy enough concept for the coach of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Berube also says that Sean Couturier's zone starts is "creating excuses" for offense not being what he'd hoped.— Dave Isaac (@davegisaac) April 13, 2015
Good lord, Craig. Do you need a picture?
It seems maybe somebody needs to draw this out for you.
Let's get a toddler to do it.
Berube: "Bergeron starts all those shifts in his own end. He seems to come out OK, right?"— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) April 13, 2015
OK. For starters, Couturier's usage is actually more extreme than Patrice Bergeron's. But even putting that aside, PATRICE BERGERON IS THE BEST DEFENSIVE FORWARD IN HOCKEY. He has been doing his damn thing for years, has won roughly a billion Selke Trophies as the league's best defensive forward, has played at a bunch of Olympics, in All-Star Games, he's won the Stanley Cup, and at age 29 is not somebody we should be fairly comparing to the 22 year old Couturier.
Also, Bergeron scored 55 points this year -- 18 more than Couturier. That's a good bit more, yes, but it's not like we're talking totally different stratospheres here. Also, Bergeron played 50 seconds more on the power play per game than Couturier ... and oh, hey, look at that .... Bergeron scored nine extra power play points than Couturier did.
I'm now firmly convinced that maybe Craig Berube doesn't know how hockey works. Get this guy away from this hockey team, please.