VOORHEES, N.J. – The plan all along was to have Sean Couturier wait until the last one or two preseason games before testing his injured knee.
Well, now we’re down to one and it looks like Couturier is going to make last call after all.
Last season’s Selke Trophy (NHL best defensive forward) finalist has been limited to practice since the start of training camp due to the knee problem suffered in a charity game in Canada last month.
Obviously the Flyers are anxious to see how Couturier reacts to live action prior to Thursday’s regular-season opener in Las Vegas.
Couturier raised some concerns when he left the ice early after a recent practice and then missed a couple sessions.
But he was back on the ice Friday at the Skate Zone looking like he’s raring to go.
“I feel good and hopefully tomorrow I’m in,’’ Couturier said of the last exhibition contest in Boston on Saturday afternoon.
“It (live game action) is different, practice is never the same as a real game. Even a preseason game to a regular-season game is different.’’
When the regular season commences, Couturier figures to return to the top-line pivot spot between Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny.
“It’s just a matter of getting back in the rhythm,’’ Couturier said. “Get some good habits back and getting a feel for the game.’’
Coach Dave Hakstol said he doesn’t plan to give Couturier a full “22-minute’’ work assignment. That might limit his time on things like the power play or maybe penalty kill.
“I don’t know if it would be the best way to start, playing 20, 25 minutes,’’ Couturier agreed. “I guess we will see what they think.’’
The Flyers don’t want to get off to another one of their slow starts, so having Couturier going at close to full speed is important.
“I don’t think there’s anything to worry about,’’ he said. “What matters most is Oct. 4, as long as I’m ready there.’’
Hakstol believes Couturier will be at full speed.
“At this point in time, I see nothing that indicates anything different,’’ he said.
As for Boston: “He won’t play 21, 22 minutes. That’s just not fair to the player. But as we get a week down the road, I see no indication that it wouldn’t be the case.’’