Since January 21st, center Sean Couturier has only been able to suit up for two of the Flyers' fifteen games, throwing a major wrench in the team's playoff hopes.
Tonight, the two-way stalwart makes his return, about a week ahead of the original four-week projected timetable. Per the beat writers traveling with the team, Couturier will be flanked by Jakub Voracek and Michael Raffl.
Since this will be Couturier's first game back in the lineup after an extended absence, it wouldn't be surprising to see his ice time limited as he re-acclimates himself to game speed. Still, the Flyers will need to rely upon him to help make up for the absence of top line center Claude Giroux, who remains out with an upper-body injury.
R.J. Umberger, who was skating on the team's second line in recent games alongside Voracek and Nick Cousins, will be sent to the press box to make room for Couturier. Cousins moves down to center the third line flanked by Matt Read and Scott Laughton, while the Pierre-Edouard Bellemare line remains unsurprisingly intact.
Head coach Dave Hakstol also chose to make an adjustment to the defense, as well. Evgeny Medvedev, currently the subject of trade rumors, will be a healthy scratch. Brandon Manning will move into the lineup in his place.
Medvedev did leave Saturday's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs after blocking a shot, but Hakstol confirmed that the decision was not related to injury. The Russian defenseman is apparently healthy enough to play, but the coach felt that this matchup was best suited for Manning's skillset.
Hakstol said he wants Manning over Medvedev because Carolina plays a "heavy" game and he wants a more physical D-man in lineup. #Flyers— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) February 23, 2016
Medvedev's performance since the injury suffered by Michael Del Zotto had been particularly strong, and he's posted a fantastic +7.6% Corsi Relative in 15 games since the turn of the calendar year. Still, he did struggle with turnovers in Saturday's contest, and that could be another factor behind Hakstol's decision.