Better With Popcorn

Five-Guy; Couturier Continues to Surge

Youth is wasted on the young.

The phrase is now clichéd at this point, but it originated from Irish playwright, George Bernard Shaw.

The saying is a commentary on how young people have all the opportunities in the world, yet lack the maturity and wisdom to properly take advantage of them.

For Philadelphia Flyers rookie forward Sean Couturier, the saying carries little weight.

“What is he, 19 or 20?  He’s so mature,” Claude Giroux said. “Just amazing to see a young player like that. He’s going to be a really good player.”

Not only is Couturier mature for his age, he also has the knowledge to back it up.

"He is such a smart player,” Scott Hartnell said. “He works hard."

Only 40 games into his NHL career and the 19-year old forward has already impressed many with his strong defensive play and ability to eat up minutes on the penalty kill.

His ability to play the ‘difficult minutes’ has spoken to his mental strength as a player.

As of late, though, Couturier has gradually developed the offensive component of his game as well.

In the team’s most recent games, the Arizona native has displayed that he is more comfortable skating with the puck especially when moving in transition as well as when skating into the offensive zone.

Not to mention that he’s also starting to score goals. A lot of goals.

Couturier is currently in the midst of a five-game goal-scoring streak, one that has consisted of three game-winning goals.

“The goals are going to come,” Jaromir Jagr said. “But how calm he is in our own zone, how he plays defensively, that's a huge bonus for a 19-year-old kid.”

While Couturier’s five-game scoring streak is an easy way to quantitatively value the rookie’s success, his competency in the defensive zone is truly where his value lies.

It may even be the reason he has had success scoring.

“Your best offense I really believe is going to come from your defense,” Giroux said. “They [the fourth line] don’t stay in their zone a long time because [Couturier’s] down low with the defense and he makes the plays to get out of the zone and get on the forecheck, and they get a lot of chances.”

There is no denying that Couturier’s ability to move the puck up ice has aided in his recent offensive surge.

By forcing the opponent to back up in transition, it allows for the Flyers to attack on the rush.

As Couturier has demonstrated (most notably against the Predators on Saturday), he has no problem taking a quick shot while in transition.

In the larger scheme of things, it’s merely another example of the player quickly developing a skill set at the NHL level. Much like a character in a videogame, he continues to gain experience points that are propelling him to a new level.

While nothing is ever set in stone (especially with the Flyers), it is exciting to think about what Couturier will be able to do in the future.

 “It’s unbelievable,” Jody Shelley said of Couturier after Tuesday night’s win. “We know on the fourth line it’s really a big deal to play with him.  He’s got such a way of looking at the game, he’s got such a great stick, the play is never dead with him, and on the offense he’s always so smart.  It’s a treat."

--

Follow me on Twitter (@mattbrigidi) and make sure to "like" The Checking Line-Flyers Edition on Facebook to stay up to the minute with all the latest team news and notes.

Feel free to shoot me an email: mattbrigidi@thecheckingline.com