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Flyers’ resurgence has been fueled by Sean Couturier, top line performance

Off to a slow start because he missed most of training camp with a knee injury, Sean Couturier is starting to look like the player who had a career season in 2017-18.

Flyers center Sean Couturier watches the puck during the first-period Saturday against Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford. Couturier had two goals in the Flyers' 4-0 win.
Flyers center Sean Couturier watches the puck during the first-period Saturday against Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford. Couturier had two goals in the Flyers' 4-0 win.Read moreYONG KIM

After missing most of training camp because of a knee injury and getting off to a slow start this season, Sean Couturier is beginning to resemble the player who had a breakthrough year in 2017-18 with 31 goals and 76 points.

Couturier, the Flyers' top-line center, has eight points — four goals, four assists —  and a plus-6 rating  in the last six games.

The Flyers, not-too-coincidentally, are 5-0-1 in that span and have catapulted into second place in the Metropolitan Division.

"I'm feeling better. I think I'm sharper on little details," Couturier said after his three-point performance Saturday helped the Flyers whip Chicago, 4-0. "My game is getting better — better timing, better chemistry with my linemates. I just have to build on that."

Last week, Claude Giroux, who has been on a blistering streak himself, said it takes a mature team to play great every night. Couturier agreed with his captain.

"I think so. Confidence helps right now," said Couturier, who had just three points in the first 11 games.

"Everything is going well. Guys are battling hard, we're recovering pucks. Guys aren't afraid to make plays and that's huge when you have that confidence and make plays. I think earlier in the year guys were trying to make plays and weren't battling enough, where if you screwed up we weren't recovering pucks. Now guys are battling hard to get those pucks back. We're making it tougher to play against."

During the Flyers' six-game points streak, Couturier and linemates Giroux (11 points, plus-8 in that span) and Travis Konecny (three points, plus-6) have combined for 22 points and a plus-20 rating. That surge has helped the Flyers recover from a 4-7 start.

"They've played pretty good hockey," coach Dave Hakstol said of his top unit. "….Now we're seeing Coots play with a lot of confidence. He fought through a time where nothing was coming easy, but he fought through that.

"You're seeing some chemistry there and a lot of real good, hard play. When they play real sound, solid hockey, give themselves an opportunity to play in the offensive zone, they're really effective. The transition, the plays off the rush, those are going to come. Those will come naturally."

Up next is a  matchup Tuesday against Florida, the Flyers' third game in a five-game homestand, which is their longest of the season.

"As soon as you rest on your laurels, that's when things go bad, so it's just a constant reminder in the locker room that we've got to bring it every shift, every period," goalie Brian "Moose" Elliott said after recording his first shutout of the season and lowering his goals-against average to 2.67 while raising his save percentage to .909.

Over  his last five games, Elliott has a 1.32 GAA and a .952 save percentage.


Giroux has 22 points, putting him in a tie for third in the NHL before Sunday's games. Over the last two seasons, he has 124 points in his last 99 games. … .Nolan Patrick has seven points in the Flyers six-game points streak. … The Flyers didn't allow a power-play goal Saturday for the first time in their last 10 games. "Better execution," defenseman Robert Hagg said. "We talk about the small details all the time, but you have to go out and do it."…. Hagg leads the Flyers with a plus-10 rating, followed by defenseman Christian Folin at plus-9. … Entering Sunday, the Flyers were 28th out of 31 teams on the power play (13.8 percent success rate) and 30th on the penalty kill (70.5 percent).