Well, this isn’t great. Per Flyers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Chuck Fletcher, reigning Selke Trophy winner Sean Couturier is going to miss at least two weeks with a rib injury:
Injury update: Forward Sean Couturier will be out a minimum of two weeks with a Costochondral separation.
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) January 16, 2021
Am I the only one who thought the injury started with “Costco”? No? Just me? At least there’d be samples.
Anyway, what exactly is a costochondral separation anyway? Per Tufts Medical Center:
When a rib tears away from the cartilage, the injury is called a costochondral separation. It may result from a blow to the ribs, a fall, or landing hard on your feet. It might even be caused by forceful coughing or sneezing.
If Couturier were to miss exactly two weeks from today, he’d miss seven games:
- 1/18 v. Buffalo Sabres
- 1/19 v. Buffalo Sabres
- 1/21 @ Boston Bruins
- 1/23 @ Boston Bruins
- 1/26 @ New Jersey Devils
- 1/28 @ New Jersey Devils
- 1/30 v. New York Islanders
That would mean his first game back could be 1/31 in the second game of a back-to-back against the Islanders. The Flyers could also opt to let him rest and get up to speed for four more days ahead of a February 3 clash at home against Boston.
It’s likely that Morgan Frost will slot into the starting lineup, which I outlined in my recap of the Flyers’ 5-2 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins:
The short-term fix that makes the most sense is sliding Giroux to center for a few games, elevating Michael Raffl off the fourth line, sending Scott Laughton to wing, and bringing a guy like Connor Bunnaman in to play 4C from the taxi squad. There is a scenario where Giroux moves to center the top line and Morgan Frost is given a chance at left wing on a line with Kevin Hayes and Joel Farabee. Given AV’s track record, if Frost is in the lineup, it’s possible we’d see one of Voracek or van Riemsdyk move up to the second line and Frost or Farabee sent to the third line.
With the clear possibility that Couturier could be out longer than two weeks, I would expect to see a shuffling of lines that would likely see Morgan Frost get a look at left wing, despite the team’s long-held insistence that he projects to be an NHL center.
I wrote about how this team -assuming they could stay healthy- could have the deepest forward corps in the league. While there’s no way to replace the elite two-way ability Couturier brings to the table, we’re about to find out just how accurate that analysis was.
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