NEW YORK -- Now we know why Joel Farabee was called up on Saturday. Sean Couturier had the flu and there was a chance of him missing Sunday’s game against the Rangers.
Yeah, that didn’t happen.
Or, as Flyers’ fan @TimRiday pointed out on Twitter, “Sean Couturier doesn’t get the flu. The flu gets Sean Couturier.”
“I felt pretty bad last night,” Couturier said after Sunday’s game. "But I woke up today and felt better.
Couturier played 18 minutes, 44 seconds -- slightly below his average of 19:50 -- and scored his 21st goal of the season. Farabee was sent back to the minors following the game.
Couturier has been the Flyers’ most consistent player this season and is in position to win the Selke Award as the NHL’s top defensive forward. The only other Flyers to win the Selke are Bobby Clarke (1983) and Dave Poulin (1987).
The Flyers converted three of five power-play chances and won their season-high sixth consecutive game. The conversation has moved from whether they’d make it to the playoffs to whether they might have home-ice advantage in the first round (or two).
“We’re starting to get into a groove," Couturier said. “We have a lot of set plays, a lot of options and we’re executing. It’s good to get our confidence back and keep rolling.”
Odd little sports-betting trend continued on Sunday when Couturier made it 2-0 midway through the first period. It was the 11th consecutive Flyers’ game to go over 1.5 goals in the first period. It’s obscure, but it’s been profitable for those who follow such insanity.
Just after Christmas, the Flyers took a West Coast trip that turned out awful. They went 1-4 and were thumped three times.
The Penguins saw those results and seemed to say this weekend, “hold my beer.” As bad as the Flyers fared, Pittsburgh was worse.
The Penguins late on Saturday wrapped up their final California swing of the season with a 5-0 loss at San Jose that was probably their worst performance of the year. They lost all four games of the road trip, the last three in Cali, and have dropped six in a row. They’ve been shutout twice in 10 days.
Through Feb. 18, the last time the Penguins won a game, Pittsburgh led the division by a point over Washington and seven over the Flyers. They entered Sunday in third place.
While the Flyers have outscored opponents 27-13 during their 6-game winning streak, the Penguins are getting drilled 24-8 during their slump. Sidney Crosby, a ghastly -8 during the slide, is taking the blame.
“I think we understand what it takes to win. But I put it on myself. I’ve got to step up,” Crosby told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette after Saturday night’s loss. “Key situations, you’re down like this and losing games, you need big plays, big performances. And I haven’t done that. So that’s on me.”