VOORHEES, N.J. – Sean Couturier is having too much success in games that count than worry about playing in an exhibition All-Star game that doesn’t.
So there were no sour grapes when the media strode up to his locker on Friday, just a couple days after the center was left off the Metro Division roster for the NHL midseason classic in Tampa on Jan. 28-29.
With 23 goals, Couturier stands fourth in the NHL. He’s already surpassed his old career-high of 15 and his 42 points have gone by his career-high of 39 in that department.
Couturier would rather just concentrate on the tasks at hand, like playing the Devils on Saturday night at the Prudential Center.
The Flyers will play the Devils, winless in their last five games (0-2-3), four times in their next 15 games.
“It (All-Star snub) is not really disappointing,’’ Couturier said. “It’s tough being an All-Star. You look at the guys on our division’s roster, they all deserve to be there.
“Yeah, it would have been nice but it’s not something to worry about.’’
Couturier seemed to turn things around late last season when, over the last six weeks of the season, he was the highest-rated plus-minus player at plus-18. This year he’s been among the NHL’s best and currently at plus-14 remains in the top 20.
“It’s getting healthier, feeling better,’’ he said. “I definitely feel like my game (late last season) got back to where it should be.
“The injuries (including a knee problem) kind of slowed me down the last two years but since then I’ve been feeling pretty good.’’
That strong finish paved the way to a promotion to the top line with Claude Giroux, who was named to the All-Star Game.
“Knowing that you can produce consistently, doing so, finish the year strong like that is something I wanted to do. . .get off to a good start,’’ he said. “I wanted a chance to get a bigger role offensively.’’
His plus-minus was way in the red last year until that strong finish. Clearly, being in double-digit minus numbers bothered a player who prides himself on defense.
Now, he’s established himself as a legitimate candidate for the Selke Trophy (best defensive forward).
“Your five-on-five play needs to be good,’’ he said. “If you want to win. Special teams can make the difference in a year but you can’t always rely on that.
“I try to take pride in my five-on-five game, be a responsible player. I guess you get what you work for.’’
Travis Konecny has turned his game around of late and gives a lot of the credit to Couturier.
“Sean has been playing some really good hockey and whoever has the opportunity to play with him. . .good players make players around them better,’’ Konecny said.