Sean Couturier out two weeks with an upper-body injury
WASHINGTON — The Flyers' second-line center Sean Couturier will miss the rest of the first-round playoff series against the Washington Capitals because of a shoulder injury, meaning Scott Laughton might get a chance to show why the Flyers made him a first-round draft selection in 2012.
"If I'm in, I'm excited for the opportunity," Laughton, 21, said Friday before practicing at the Verizon Center. "To get in my first playoff game would be pretty cool. But, at the same time, it's a tough situation" because of Couturier's injury.
Couturier was injured after a clean, jarring check by Washington's Alex Ovechkin sent him off the boards and to the locker room during Thursday's second period. General manager Ron Hextall announced Friday that Couturier would miss two weeks.
The Flyers lost Thursday's opener, 2-0. Game 2 is Saturday night at the Verizon Center.
Losing the 6-foot-3, 211-pound Couturier hurts the Flyers in many ways. In addition to centering the second line, he plays on the penalty kill and power play and is the team's best defensive forward.
"It's a hole we have to fill, and other guys have to step up," forward Brayden Schenn said.
"Coots is our defensive anchor out there," defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said. "We're going to miss him, but we have the next-guy-in-line mentality and who's up next."
With Couturier in the lineup during the regular season, the Flyers were 35-18-10. Without him, they were 6-9-4.
Laughton, a natural center who also spent time at left wing this season, would bring fresh legs to the lineup. He has been a healthy scratch in nine of the last 11 games, including the physical playoff opener.
"I haven't played much in the last two weeks and have been itching to get back, for sure," Laughton said. "The last two or three weeks, I've been skating and working on my game. I think I can bring a little fire to the series."
If coach Dave Hakstol decides to keep the other lines intact, Laughton could fill Couturier's center spot or move to wing. Brayden Schenn switched from right wing to center after Couturier left Thursday's game.
Hakstol wouldn't officially say the 6-1, 190-pound Laughton was in the lineup, but all signs point in that direction.
"He's an intense player, and he plays with a lot of speed and pace and a little bit of grit," Hakstol said.
Laughton will likely also be used on the penalty kill. Washington was 1 for 6 on the power play Thursday, but that fluky goal was scored after John Carlson's shot bounced off two Flyers, preventing goalie Steve Mason from making the save.
"Our [penalty kill] did a really good job. … A lot of guys stepped up," said Laughton, pointing out that defenseman Nick Schultz blocked an Ovechkin shot while standing a few feet away from him. "It takes some serious heart to do that," Laughton said.
Couturier and his linemates — Michael Raffl and Schenn — were expected to spend a lot of time matched against Washington's top unit of Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie.
Laughton, who managed seven goals and 21 points in 71 games, conceded he "struggled a little bit more at the start of the year" on defense, but that he "got more comfortable as the year went on. As a winger, I felt a little bit better [with] a little bit less responsibility."
Hakstol was pleased with his team's Game 1 intensity but not its execution.
"Loved our effort but came up a little bit short," he said. "We didn't come here to come up a little bit short."