Last week, after missing two practices for “maintenance days”. Before a January 19th game against the Maple Leafs, Couturier was a last minute injured scratch. After missing three games with a lower-body injury, the Flyers placed Couturier on Injured Reserve.
The Flyers are a 2-6-1 team without Couturier in the lineup, obviously struggling without the 2nd line center. Steve Mason was also injured before the All-Star game. At the same time, Michal Neuvirth wasn’t exactly feeling 100% making the Flyers goalie tandem a bit shaky. But Mason is back tonight, along with Sean Couturier as the Flyers face the Montreal Canadiens.
Per GM Ron Hextall, G Michal Neuvirth will be out a week to 10 days with a lower-body injury. → https://t.co/9gUwugxr0D
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) February 2, 2016
That’s okay. Backing up Stone Cold Steve Mason is goaltending prospect and now 2016 AHL All-Star goalie Anthony Stolarz. The 2012 2nd round pick from Edison, NJ is coming off an amazing season in the AHL, 15-10-3 with a .915 SvPct. He is finally looking comfortable. Will he play a game this stint? More then likely. We have a back to back this weekend against the New York Rangers and the red hot Washington Capitols. Time will tell which game Coach Dave Hakstol will use Stolie The Goalie in. But it will be a nice view of the future.
— Daily Faceoff (@DailyFaceoff) February 2, 2016
You’re reading that right. RJ Umberger is scratched. After a full year and 50 goalless games, Umberger is out of the lineup. This is honestly the best line combo we have put out all season for a few reasons.
FIRST LINE: Jake Voracek- Claude Giroux(C)-Wayne Simmonds(A)
Pretty obvious. This powerhouse line has been the best for the Flyers. If it’s not broke don’t fix it, leave the top line alone as long as they’re putting up points.
SECOND LINE: Sam Gagner-Sean Couturier- Brayden Schenn
Couts and Schenn had instant chemistry dating back to last season. Sam Gagner the 6th overall pick from the 2007 entry level draft has had his issues this season, but hasn’t really been given a chance to perform offensively, spending most of his time on the fourth line. He was sent down to the Phantoms for cap reasons when Mark Streit came back from injury, but now Gagner has a chance to solidify his spot in a top 6 role. A nice sniper with Couts centering and Brayden coming into a power-forward role is just absolutely beautiful,
THIRD LINE: Michael Raffl- Scott Laughton- Matt Read
Finally, the third line actually looks like a third line. We have a decent two-way line. Laughton has had his share of linemates holding him back and questions surrounding his development and skill level, without Umberger (and hopefully more ice time) Laughton could finally be doing something. The hardworking Raffl and the defensive forward Read might be able to break Laughton out of his shell and his first full year on the big club.
FOURTH LINE: Chris Vandevelde- PE Bellemare- Ryan White
This is our 4th line.
FIRST PAIR: Michael DelZotto- Shayne Gostisbehere
MDZ has been our best defenseman throughout the course of the year. His fancy stats prove it. Despite moving away from his “offensive mind” tactics, Del Zotto has really found himself as an amazing two-way defenseman. Paired with the ever so gifted “Ghostbear” can be something we can drool at.
SECOND PAIR: Nick Schultz- Mark Streit(A)
Our former first pairing has now moved back. Giving this pairing less ice time might give Streit a chance to play his game without putting in heavy minutes, which might lead to an offensive spark. He hasn’t been the same since his injury, but it only takes one goal to start the flood. Remember, he was in the top 10 in points for defenseman last year. Nick Schultz, our stay at home defenseman might be a bit of a weight on Streit, who are we kidding, he will be.
THIRD PAIR: Evgeny Medvedev- Radko Gudas
Medvedev is back in the lineup after spending a few games in the press box for Brandon Manning. MDV has an amazing Hockey IQ. The 33-year-old rookie paired with the Czech Hitman Radko Gudas can really give him a chance to help the rush. Gudas, who has great possession stats and is right handed can really handle himself in his own zone. With both of them being highly skilled at what they do, playing on the third pair can create some deadly chances tonight. Be on the lookout for this pair.
Star of the game prediction:
Sam Gagner: I think Gagner along side of Couts and Schenn should really break Gagner out of his shell. I think he will have a 2pt game against the struggling Habs.