Friday, December 18, 2015

The Sean Couturier Graveyard

Here lie the bones of the men who unsuccessfully attempted to play hockey against Sean Couturier. May they rest in peace for eternity.

October 14 - Chicago Blackhawks
Couturier played most of his time (about 8 of his 11 minutes at even strength) against Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. He played them even in Corsis, held them off the score sheet, and assisted on Matt Read's goal to ice the game. 

October 21 - Boston Bruins
The Couturier-Read-Simmonds line spent most of their ice time matched up with Boston's Eriksson-Krejci-Pastrnak line. The Coots line out-Corsi'd the Krejci line by 2-4 (depending on the player) and held them off the score sheet at even strength except for a Krejci assist on Jimmy Hayes' goal. 

During the Bruins game, Couturier was cheap-shotted in the head by Noted Scum Of The Earth Zac Rinaldo. He was out with a concussion until November 5th. 

November 5 - Calgary Flames
The Flyers were in Calgary for this game, and thus didn't have the luxury of being able to match the Coots line against the Gaudreau-Bennett-Monahan line. They played pretty evenly against all four Flames lines and all three defensive pairs, and they murdered all of them. This was a big "Welcome Back Coots" game, in which his line finished +15 Corsis at even strength and played with a little big of life, which they'd been lacking in his absence. 

November 7 - Winnipeg Jets
Another road game, another night that Dave Hakstol was unable to get the Coots line matched the way he would have liked. We're adding the Jets' line of Burmistrov-Stafford-Ehlers to the graveyard, because they were shut down and out-Corsi'd, but this is one of the less impressive sets of bones in the boneyard. 

November 12 - Washington Capitals
This was the biggest test (to that point) of the season for the Coots line. They were at home, and Hakstol matched them up with the Ovechkin-Kuznetsov-Oshie line for about 8 of their 11 even strength minutes. The Coots line out-Corsi'd the Ovi line by half a dozen, and out-High-Danger-Scoring-Chance'd them 3-2. Oshie scored (it was a greasy rebound goal if I remember correctly), but you can't blame this loss on the second line because they played as well as anyone can against that Caps line. 

November 14 - Carolina Hurricanes
The Couturier line followed up one of their toughest matchups with one of their easiest. At Carolina, the Canes seemed to aim for the matchup of Rask-Terry-Lindholm against Couturier-Read-Simmonds. The boys in orange (and white) out-Corsi'd them by double digits and were each +1 for the night, but failed to generate anything that showed up on the scoreboard. Simmonds was credited with a goal, but it was a Brandon Manning pass to set up a Shayne Gostisbehere shot from the point that ended in a goal (his first NHL point, by the way). The rumblings were in full force by this time - Flyers Facebook was overrun with people criticizing this line, despite the fact that they had shut down everyone in the graveyard through the first month of the season. 

November 17 - Los Angeles Kings
Home game. High-powered line on the other side. Coots line shut them down. The Carter-Toffoli-Lucic line is an intimidating one, and the Coots line played them even in Corsis and didn't even allow a single high-danger scoring chance at even strength. Lucic scored with a minute left in the game when Hakstol put out his "Can't Handle The Puck, Can't Generate Any Kind Of Zone Exits, Hopefully Will Block Some Shots" lineup. But nobody cared, because this was the night the Shayne Gostisbehere era officially began. 

November 25 - New York Islanders
Road game. High-powered line on the other side. Coots line shut them down. This time it was Tavares-Nelson-Okposo, who were out-Corsi'd by double digits by Courutier & Co. The Flyers lost again, but again you cannot blame the shutdown line. They allowed one goal from one of the best lines in the Eastern Conference, but - stop me if you've heard this one before - the Flyers couldn't generate enough goals to win. 

November 28 - New York Rangers
The Flyers entered Madison Square Garden having not won a game there since the team captains were Richards, Carter, Pronger, and Timonen. The whole team, really, dominated the Rangers in this 3-0 shutout. But the Coots line was exceptional: they spent most of their time matched up with the Miller-Fast-Lindberg line, kept them off the scoreboard (obviously), and out-Corsi'd them. Simmonds scored twice and assisted on Couturier's goal. This was also the night that Luke Schenn fought someone and got an instigator penalty that was served by his younger brother, which is a really cool thing to have happened. 

December 1 - Ottawa Senators
The Coots line spent most of the game playing against the Stone-Lazar-Zibanejad line, who they out-Corsi'd by double digits (Couturier finished +12 at even strength). Coots had a goal and two assists, Simmonds had one of each, and Gostisbehere scored again. All was well in Flyerland, as the win brought the team to .500 on the season.

December 8 - New York Islanders
I know the Coots line already killed them, but they spent almost the whole game against that Tavares-Okposo-Nelson line and dominated them again (+9/13/15 Corsis). Unfortunately, Jaro Halak made 43 saves on 46 shots and Steve Mason made 7 saves on 10 shots, and the Flyers lost in a shootout (on that filthy move by Okposo). 

December 17 - Vancouver Canucks
With a new linemate, the expectations for Couturier's offensive game are increased. But playing with Simmonds and Voracek isn't going to diminish his influence on the defensive end. And it should actually lead to him playing even more against the other team's top competition. Against Vancouver, the New Coots Line was matched up against both Sedins (and then just one after Henrik got hurt). The line all finished with a positive Corsi differential against the Sedins, Alex Burrows (their usual third), and Bo Horvat (who filled in for Henrik). But shutting down the top line, they kept the whole Canucks team off the scoresheet. The three of them also combined for a goal, as Jake and Wayne assisted on Sean's goal in the third period. 

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