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Tortorella refuses to answer any questions about Couturier scratch

Photo Credit: Heather Barry Images

One single lineup decision loomed over the entirety of Tuesday night’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs for the Philadelphia Flyers. It was initially reported and then confirmed, that captain Sean Couturier would be a healthy scratch for pure performance reasons, becoming the first captain that was taken out of an NHL lineup in the last 10 years.

Well, the Couturier-less Flyers went on to claim a 4-3 victory against one of the best teams in the league with some of the best players in the world in the lineup. Somehow, some way, this Flyers team who are trying to dig their nails deep into their playoff spot for the last few weeks of the regular season, got some extremely precious points.

After the game, Flyers head coach John Tortorella was, rightfully so, asked about scratching Couturier from the lineup immediately during his media availability. The bench boss shut down any notion of a question regarding the captain not being on the ice.

“As I told you, I’m putting the players out on the ice to win a particular game, and these were the 20 that I decided to go with,” Tortorella said.

For a coach that just led his team to a hard-fought win over the Leafs — the first game in a slate of difficult matchups during the most important weeks of their season — Tortorella certainly appeared to be more ticked off than joyous.

The very next question, even before the reporter could finish asking their question — or even begin to truly ask anything — the Flyers head coach quickly dismissed any upcoming questions regarding Couturier, setting the tone for the rest of the availability.

“I’m not talking on Sean. I’m not debating with you. I’m not conversing with you. It’s between Sean and I. So, just, talk to me about the game, guys.”

Despite Couturier not playing very good as of late, the team still has a better chance at winning a game with him in the lineup compared to without. Without their captain, several Flyers needed to step up and play to their potential. Young players like Morgan Frost, Owen Tippett, and Cam York, played exceptionally well and showed that they could be depended on to win some games even more often than they currently are.

Tortorella was asked about how important it is for these “young veterans” to have games like they did against Toronto.

“It’s huge. Those guys deserve to be in the lineup. They have played well,” Tortorella said. “They get these opportunities and this is where we’re at, we are playing these types of games, middle to almost the end of March, and we have guys that have to experience this to go through this process of building this team.

“To get through the pressure of it, and to understand the situational play, and be involved in a game like this — there’s going to be more as we keep on going — it’s huge as far as the process. As far as trying to get this team to be a consistent team in the playoffs.”

With these two points earned, the Flyers have a total of 78 and a 35-26-8 record on the season, to put a three-point gap between them and the climbing Washington Capitals. With an upcoming schedule featuring matchups against the Carolina Hurricanes, Boston Bruins, and Florida Panthers, the Flyers will need to continue playing like their season depends on it — because it sort of does — with or without Couturier.

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