Can Sean Couturier Add More Offense to His Game?
Labels can be applied in a heartbeat. Just ask Sean Couturier.
He made the NHL in his draft year and did a number on Evgeni Malkin, stifling him defensively in a playoff series that seems to have haunted the Pittsburgh Penguins star mentally ever since.
After that showing, Couturier, who had 96 points in 58 games in his last season in juniors, has been labeled as a defensive center.
Wayne Simmonds feels his pain.
His first three years in the league, back when he was with the Los Angeles Kings, he was on Michal Handzus’ line. By virtue of Handzus’ presence, a career defensive center, it became the de facto checking line so Simmonds got typecast as a defensive forward.
“We’d go out against every team’s top line and that’s all I did,” Simmonds said. “I didn’t do any special teams. It was just shutdown line. That was it. I came here and it was a little bit different. (Former Flyers coach Peter Laviolette) put me on the power play and now I’m on the power play, score a couple goals and now I’m an offensive guy.”
Since coming to Philadelphia, Simmonds has been a 20-goal scorer. He had only 15 three seasons ago, but that’s because the lockout shortened the season to 45 games.