Sean Couturier suffered a knee injury in the second period of Tuesday night’s game against the Florida Panthers, and the Flyers have now placed him on injured reserve. He’ll be out four-to-six weeks, the team has announced.
Per GM Ron Hextall, #Flyers center Sean Couturier will be out 4-6 weeks with a lower-body injury.— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) November 23, 2016
The timetable puts his earliest possible return to the lineup at December 21 when the Flyers host the Washington Capitals. That’s exactly four weeks from today.
Plainly put, this sucks. Even without much scoring, Couturier is one of the most important forwards on the ice for the Flyers, who don’t have much (quality) center depth behind Claude Giroux and Coots on the top two lines. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare has been poor at third-line center so far, and Nick Cousins doesn’t exactly seem to be in Dave Hakstol’s good graces. None of these players can replace Coots’ skills as a defensive forward, anyhow -- not many players in the NHL can, if we’re being real.
So, with that said, the Flyers have recalled Scott Laughton from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms to replace Couturier in the lineup. Coach Dave Hakstol could opt to place Roman Lyubimov into the lineup instead, but it wouldn’t make much sense to fly Laughton down to Florida just to have him sit in the press box. The Flyers will return to Philadelphia after the game this evening in Tampa.
If he gets into the lineup tonight, it’ll be Laughton’s first NHL action of the season after going down with an injury in training camp and subsequently joining the Phantoms following a conditioning loan. He played 71 games with the Flyers a year ago. He’s also, of course, a natural center and therefore could be seen as the front runner to grab that second-line center spot during Couturier’s absence. We’ll see.
This was to be expected after we heard from Ron Hextall post-game, when he informed us that Couturier was going to head back to Philadelphia for further evaluation.