Isaac: Could the Flyers Use Sean Couturier as Their Top Center?
VOORHEES — For the time being it seems like more of a gimmick, a trick play that is drawing attention now and probably won’t be seen much when the results of games matter.
The Flyers putting Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux on the ice at the same time isn’t exactly like the Pittsburgh Penguins stacking their lineup with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin together.
It’s an experiment that Giroux and Couturier pondered for years and the Flyers are trying in training camp. It sees Giroux as a left winger, which changes things like taking passes on his backhand coming out of the defensive zone.
But it also means that Couturier, whose career high for points in a season is 39, would be the team’s No. 1 center. The top 31 centers in the league last year had at least 55 points.
“I don’t think I need to change a whole lot,” Couturier said of centering Giroux and Jake Voracek. “It might be a different mindset a little bit, but at the end of the day I’ve got to stay the same player I am. I think as much as they can bring a lot to my game, I can bring something to their line. I’ve just got to stay the same player I am.”
Much of Couturier’s first six seasons in the NHL have seen him pigeonholed into being a shutdown defender. He has done well in that department and often can control the puck in the opposition’s end of the ice with its best players on the ice.
Finishing those plays has been a problem, though. Last season his shooting percentage was 11.7 percent, a career high and slightly above Giroux’s career average. Is that enough to put him in an opportunity where the team is really relying on his offense instead of his defense?