Sean Couturier

Couturier stronger, faster after rough sophomore season


Philadelphia Flyers forward Sean Couturier’s second season in the NHL hardly went as planned. He seemed to regress defensively and ended up with just 15 points in 46 games. The good news is that sophomore slumps are nothing new and third-year rebounds happen too.

When asked what he needs to improve on in 2013-14, Couturier told CSN Philly, “I think my whole game.”

If there was a silver lining to the Flyers missing the playoffs, it’s that it gave Couturier a longer offseason to work towards that. He added roughly eight pounds over the summer and his burst speed has improved.

“The first 10 feet is where he needed to be quicker,” Flyers assistant coach Craig Berube said. “That’s where people like Jake Voracek get away from guys — they get off, then they’re gone. That’s where he had to get quicker for me. Once he gets going, he’s fine. You pull away from people and create space for yourself.”

Couturier had two assists in Monday’s preseason contest, but he was playing on a line with Jason Akeson and Voracek. When the season opens, he’ll likely be skating alongside Matt Read and one of Marcel Noebels, Tye McGinn, and Michael Raffl on the team’s third line.

Philadelphia isn’t counting on the 20-year-old forward to break out in 2013-14, but they do need his line to be sound defensively and chip in a bit offensively. Whether or not Couturier is a major factor in how effective Philadelphia’s bottom-six is this season.

Dropping like flies: Johnson, Killorn hurt in Bolts’ exhibition

Montreal Canadiens v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game One
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You probably know the drill: injury updates are murky in the NHL basically from the moment a puck drops.

We’ll learn more once the 2015-16 season begins, but at the moment, Saturday might have served as a costly night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn went down with injuries stemming from a 3-2 pre-season win against the Florida Panthers.

“Guys were dropping like flies,” Steven Stamkos told the Tamba Bay Times.

These could be minor situations – just about any ailment will sideline a key asset this time of year – yet one cannot help but wonder if the Lightning might limp into this campaign.

Nikita Kucherov is dealing with his own issues, so that means at least minor issues for one half of the Bolts’ top six forwards.

It’s believed that more will be known about these banged-up Bolts sometime on Sunday.

Raffi Torres gets match penalty for being Raffi Torres

Raffi Torres

With knee issues still limiting him, Raffi Torres isn’t as mobile as he once was. Apparently he still moves well enough to leave the usual path of destruction.

It’s the pre-season, so it’s unclear if we’ll get a good look at the check, but Torres received a match penalty for his hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.

Most accounts were pretty critical of the San Jose Sharks’ chief troublemaker:

It’s too early to tell if Silfverberg is injured. If he is, that’s a significant loss for the Ducks, as he really showed signs of fulfilling his promise (especially during the 2015 playoffs).

As far as Torres goes, he’s hoping to play in the Sharks’ season-opener. Wherever he ends up, he’ll certainly make plenty of enemies on the ice.

Whether it was because of that hit or just the general distaste shared by those sides, it sounds like tonight’s Sharks – Ducks exhibition is getting ugly, in general:

This post will be updated if video of the hit becomes available, and also if we get a better idea of Silfverberg’s condition.

Update: Bullet dodged?