It's only been 12 games so far but the Flyers--as one would expect--have already been having a roller coaster of a season. They have some nights where they look like they could be a team that goes on a legitimate playoff run, and then they immediately follow that up with nights where it looks like half the team ripped through a carton of smokes before the game and haven't had their skates sharpened since 1997. The one thing that the Flyers have been consistent with over the last few seasons is their inconsistency. But one of the very few pieces of this team that has managed to not only stay consistent but also be consistently dominant out there on the ice is Sean Couturier.
Now I'm not an advanced stats guy. I think everybody knows that by now. I'm more of a "wow what a silky smooth son of a bitch" type of guy when I'm analyzing the game. But Sean Couturier currently leads the NHL in 5v5 Corsi For at just over 65%. Basically all you have to take out of that is that Sean Couturier is constantly winning his line matchups, and most of the time he's out there against the opponent's top line. So you have the Couturier line winning huge matchups every night and then on top of holding their opponent off the scoresheet, we've got Sean Couturier out there pulling off The Forsberg to give the Flyers a 4-3 shootout win against New Jersey last night.
Oh sweet Jesus. Since when did the Lizard pick up a pair of mitts that saucy? Mackenzie Blackwood thanks for coming out, pal. Keep the change.
And the only reason why this game got to a shootout in the first place is because the Lindblom/Couturier/Konecny line led the way for the Flyers all night just like they've been doing all season. First on deck was Oskar Lindblom going top bunk from a tight angle after some nice puck movement from Konecny to Couturier to The Grouch.
And then in the 2nd period, this one was kind of a fluke play but this line has been so dominant all season that they're going to catch a few lucky breaks like this one. Couturier is dealing with an upper body injury so it's not like he could get a ton on this shot, but when the Devils decide to barrel Travis Konecny into Mackenzie Blackwood who is aggressively out of the crease for some reason, it found a way to hit the back of the net.
So that's a regulation goal, an assist, the shootout game winner, and the best fancy stat numbers of the night for Sean Couturier in a 4-3 shootout win on the road against a division opponent. All while playing through an injury. I know that beating the Devils doesn't even come close to making you any sort of "world beater" but that's about as dominant of a night as you could ask for the best two-way center in the NHL. He gets it done in every single area of the ice. And when the team needs him the most in the shootout--an area of Couturier's game that I didn't even know he had in him--not only does he come up clutch but he comes up filthy as well. Lizard. What a gem.
P.S. - Shoutout to Joel Farabee for finally catching a break and scoring his first career NHL goal that didn't get reversed for being offside. Big time goal to tie it up 3-3 with less than 10 minutes to go in regulation.
P.P.S. - Shoutout #2 goes to Carter Hart. 21-year-old goalie playing in his first full NHL season and has had a few bad starts in a row. For a lot of goalies out there, they just don't have the mental toughness to break themselves out of that funk. But Carter Hart's mind is like Fort Knox, and even though he didn't have the craziest numbers last night he still came up huge in a bunch of different situations. Especially during the shootout when he was able to stop Jack Hughes and Taylor Hall back-to-back for the win.
The Flyers still have a lot of work to do. They make a ton of mistakes, some guys (cough, cough, Travis Sanheim) just seem like they've forgotten how to skate, and both Giroux and Voracek still go stretches at a time where you completely forget they're playing that night. But a win is a win, and Sean Couturier is still the best two-way center in the NHL.