WASHINGTON (CBS/AP) — The Philadelphia Flyers will have to try to mount a comeback against the Washington Capitals without one of their best players.
The Flyers announced Friday that center Sean Couturier will miss the rest of the first round because of an upper-body injury.
Couturier left Game 1 on Thursday favoring his left shoulder after taking a hit from Alex Ovechkin midway through the second period. The Capitals dominated after his departure and won 2-0.
The team said Couturier is expected to be out for two weeks and they will miss his penalty-killing, faceoff abilities and overall defensive prowess against skill-heavy Washington.
“It’s huge,” Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said. “Coots is our defensive anchor out there. He’s such a good defensive forward. We’re going to miss him, but it’s the next guy in line sort of mentality.”
The 23-year-old averaged over 18 minutes a game for Philadelphia during the regular season and drew the toughest defensive matchups. He tied a career high with 39 points on 11 goals and 28 assists.
Brayden Schenn will likely slide into the second-line center spot and 21-year-old Scott Laughton who will get into the lineup after being a healthy scratch for nine of the past 11 games. Neither player brings the same all-around game of Couturier, whose departure from Game 1 coincided with the Capitals taking over.
“It probably didn’t hurt because I know Sean is a quality hockey player and relied on by the Flyers to be sort of their stopper guy,” Washington coach Barry Trotz said. “Couturier’s an important part of what they do.”
Effort isn’t a question and neither is intensity, especially after a physical start to the series that included a big hit by the Capitals’ Tom Wilson on Andrew MacDonald and an ensuing fight with Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds. The big question is how Simmonds might respond in Game 2 on Saturday night (7:30 p.m. EDT, CNBC).
“He’s the X-factor for them,” Wilson said. “I hope I didn’t wake him up there. He’s obviously going to be coming out in Game 2 flying like the rest of their team. They’re going to be champing at the bit to get another crack at us.”
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