Couturier questionable, Barzal game-time decision for Game 6

Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault had no update on Sean Couturier‘s status for Game 6 Thursday night (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN; livestream). If you wanted to look deeper into his answer, he sounded like there is a chance the center sits.

“What I would say is throughout our season and this time here in the [Return to Play], we’ve been of the mentality of ‘next man up’ and who’s ready to play,” Vigneault. “Before every game we’ve got decisions for lineups. Obviously not everyone is 100% at this time of the year, and we’ll do our best to put the best lineup that we feel is going to give us a chance to win tonight.”

Couturier was injured late in the second period of the Flyers’ 4-3 overtime win in Game 5. He collided with Mathew Barzal, who  had to leave the game later due to injury.

Scott Laughton moved into Couturier’s spot and ended up scoring the OT winner.

Michael Raffl and Connor Bunnaman are two options who can fill in a bottom-line center role should some roster shuffling be needed in Couturier’s absence.

“Nobody can replace Coots,” Vigneault said. “Coots is one of the best two-way centers in the league; plays that 200-foot game and is very dependable and trustworthy. When we put Scotty in there during that game we felt that he was our best option. He had a lot of energy, a lot of jump to his game.”

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Isles ready with Plan A and Plan B

Barzal will be a game-time decision, according to Islanders head coach Barry Trotz.

The forward was hit in the face by a Claude Giroux follow through late in the third period of Game 5. He missed the final few minutes of the third period and the entire overtime.

On Wednesday, Trotz said during his media availability that Barzal was “trending in the right direction.” Vigneault had an update of his own on the Islanders forward.

“I have no concern about Barzal,” Vigneault said. “I came up in the elevator with him [Tuesday] night. I was happy to see and talk with him. See that there was nothing serious. That could have been a real bad accident, but fortunately the young man is alright.”

In case Barzal cannot go, Trotz has spoken to a few players about potentially getting into the Game 6 lineup.

“You don’t want to make a last-minute decision,” he said. “You want to get people prepared. Plan B and Plan A are in place, so, we’re ready.”

Flyers vs. Islanders (NYI leads 3-2)

Islanders 4, Flyers 0 (recap)
Flyers 4, Islanders 3 (OT) (recap)
Islanders 3, Flyers 1 (recap)
Islanders 3, Flyers 2 (recap)
Flyers 4, Islanders 3 (OT) (recap)
Game 6: Thursday, Sept. 3 – 7 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)
*Game 7: Saturday, Sept. 5 – TBD

*if necessary

MORE: NHL Second Round schedule

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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