Flyers Center Frustrated by Recent Events – NBC Sports Philadelphia

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers have given up 5.25 goals per game over their last four games, and face the NHL's most prolific scorers on Tuesday night in the midst of a playoff race.

John Tortorella has decided to fight Auston Matthews and the Maple Leafs without Sean Couturier.

Without the player with the letter “C” on his jersey and the 2019-20 Silk Cup on his CV.

Couturier will be a healthy scratch.

Tortorella, a veteran coach with a Stanley Cup ring, has pushed a lot of the right buttons this season. But there is no doubt that this is one of his boldest decisions in two seasons with the Flyers.

Couturier, who is highly competitive, a position that doesn't come easy against me, was visibly disappointed on Tuesday after the morning skate.

“It's difficult,” he said. “I feel like I've been doing my best for a while, and I know I've been struggling and trying to work on my game. I'm definitely frustrated with the way I've been treated lately, I guess. It is what it is.”

Amid the struggles, the 31-year-old saw a drop in the lineup starting around mid-February. His minutes were cut significantly. After missing nearly 22 months due to two back surgeries, Couturier opened the season healthy and as the Flyers' first-line center. He has been performing and being used as one despite the long hiatus.

Lately, Couturier's performance has seemed to improve. As the Flyers have given up goals at an alarming clip, Couturier has registered an assist, won 26 of his 40 faceoffs (65 percent) and has just a -1 rating.

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Could this be the time for more minutes, to lean on a man who is highly regarded for his defensive record?

“I think there are a number of players, and he's one of them, that need to be better,” Tortorella said Monday after practice.

As the Flyers host Toronto (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP), Couturier will be seen with Cam Atkinson, Denis Gurianov and Marc Staal.

“I got the same answers as you guys, just need to see more,” Couturier said. “I'm still looking forward to seeing what this is. I try every game, it's not like I'm sitting down or doing anything I'm thinking about. I've felt the last couple of games, with limited ice time or limited opportunities. I've been getting it, I've been OK, but I think we'll use the best lineup available tonight to win, so that's what it is.

“It doesn't matter, honestly, what I think. I've got to put my ego aside I guess. Hopefully the team can find a way to get the win here tonight and I can get back to it soon.”

Couturier played a season-low 11:10 minutes last Saturday in the Flyers' 6-5 loss to the Bruins. He's played fewer than 13 minutes four times over the last 14 games. During his previous six seasons, he had never played fewer than 13 minutes in an entire game.

Are fewer minutes a way to monitor Couturier's workload or are they strictly related to performance?

“I think that's a question about Torts and how Torts manages his minutes,” assistant coach Rocky Thompson said Tuesday. “I can't think of our coach in that way. I think Coates has done a good job, he works very hard in training and is trying to improve himself, without a doubt.”

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At the end of February, Tortorella said Couturier's reduction in employment was not for the purpose of managing his business records.

Suffice it to say that being on the bench at this time of year will test a competitor like Couturier, who has been a pilot since he was 18 years old.

“I control what I can control, which is what it is,” he said. “We move on.”

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