Better With Popcorn

Couturier, Read and Simmonds Belong Together

Not everything about Thursday night’s 4-1 loss to the New York Islanders was disappointing.

While the Flyers failed to capitalize on their chances, the team managed to put together some decent offensive drives that on most nights probably would have resulted in goals.

However, the Flyers offense also hurt themselves at times.

For a large majority of the game, they repeatedly tried to move the puck to the slot and were consistently denied.

It was the equivalent of slamming your head into a wall over and over and over again.

“We wanted to get pucks to the net tonight and try to get rebounds and tip-ins and stuff like that and win puck battles around their net,” Matt Read said. “but we shot a lot - not from the quality spots and we were just getting outworked in front of their net.”

There were some bright spots though.

For large stretches of the game, Read and linemate Wayne Simmonds looked great together. It wasn’t an isolated incident either.

The two players have developed chemistry with one another, a chemistry that is starting to generate offensive chances for the Flyers.

They both have a great deal of speed. Combine that with Simmonds’ physical play and Read’s offensive prowess and you have yourself a dynamic duo that has imposed themselves when cycling the offensive zone.

It’s starting to show up on the score sheet as well.

In the Flyers' last five games, Read and Simmonds have combined for a total of 11 points.

Brayden Schenn has centered the two wingers throughout this stretch, and with the exception of a few high points, Schenn has been largely ineffective. 

That being said, the team does have Sean Couturier centering physical players like Jody Shelley and Zac Rinaldo on the fourth line.

Imagine what would happen if Couturier had a chance to center Simmonds and Read on the third line.

In the few instances that the three have been paired together, it has been nothing short of a success.

In the last five games, the Flyers have scored a total of 13 goals. In that span, Couturier, Read and Simmonds have scored a total of seven goals, which makes up over half of the production. In total, the group has a combined 15 points during that span.

There is much discussion about how Couturier deserves more minutes. A move to the third line would allow for that, not to mention that he and Read are starting to develop a chemistry of their own when paired on the penalty kill.

Peter Laviolette has consistently praised the play of Couturier; whether it be his defensive awareness, his maturity level, or his talents in the offensive zone, the coach has clearly stated how impressive the 19 year-old has been.

However, Laviolette has chosen to keep Couturier fixed in a limited role thus far.

Maybe there are restrictions being handed down from above or maybe he doesn’t want to wear him out during the course of the season, but whatever the reason, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for them not to be playing Couturier more.

Yet again, moving the young centerman to the third line would be the perfect solution to that problem.

With Schenn still trying to find his footing, a move to the fourth line may also prove to be the best thing for his development as well.

After all, look what it did for Couturier.

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2 Comments

John Russo's picture

I have to think that line would be very good for the three, especially for Couturier. Coots has been nothing short of amazing. And with his offensive confidence starting to really show, he's making a surge into the Calder talks with Read and RNH.

Chuck Gaston Jr's picture

Watching Couturier play is very reminiscent of what we in Pittsburgh saw with Jordan Staal. Excellent size, awareness, and maturity, paired up with surprising speed for their size. Jordan has had his best season's with two very fast and physical wingers, neither very big. Read has similar size to Tyler Kennedy and while Simmonds is bigger than Cooke, no one can deny that both are physical pests (Simmonds more on the offensive than Cooke). Those are perfect complimentary players to large space eating centers, I think it is time to give up on the Schenn project for now and allow Couturier to develop farther.