PHILADELPHIA – Looking for a turning point in Sean Couturier’s season?
How about these numbers:
Five points in his first 14 games.
Six points in his last three.
Apparently the light went on sometime around the time the Flyers visited Arizona last Monday.
Since then, he’s been on a tear, including a two-goal, one-assist effort in Saturday’s 4-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks at the Wells Fargo Center.
Folks have been waiting awhile for Couturier to find the form that allowed him last season to set career highs for goals (31), assists (45) and points (76).
An offseason knee injury, costing him over a month of hockey-related activity, really set him back. He managed to get into only one preseason game, that against Boston in the final tilt at TD Garden the last weekend in September.
How much did that limited training camp hurt his early performance?
He didn’t record an assist for the first 12 games until he registered his first at Los Angeles on Nov. 1.
Sometimes it just takes a while to find your rhythm.
“I think on that road trip out west, I was skating more,’’ he said. “As a line (with Claude Giroux, Travis Konecny), we talked about moving the puck a little quicker, east-west, behind the net, using the whole ice defensively.
“Right now the puck is moving quick, we’re moving all over the offensive zone. Creating a lot of chances. We just have to keep doing that.’’
Said defenseman Robert Hagg: “It’s great to have him back to where he was last year. It’s good for him.’’
>Penalty kill kicks in.
After giving up a power-play goal in nine consecutive games, the Flyers finally slammed the door on Saturday and blanked the Blackhawks on four chances.
The Flyers continue to lag at the bottom of the NHL barrel in this department but there were some encouraging signs against Chicago.
Philadelphia limited the number of chances and goaltender Brian Elliott was there to stone the shots that made it through.
“I think ‘Lappy’ (assistant coach Ian Laperriere, who runs the penalty kill) is pretty happy right now,’’ Hagg said with a smile. “I think it’s going in the right direction.
“I would say it’s just better execution. We’re talking about the small details all the time but you have to go out and do it.’’
>Another milestone for Giroux
Giroux’s three-point game allowed him to move past Rick MacLeish into fourth place on the Flyers’ all-time scoring list.
With 699 career points, he now trails only Bob Clarke, Bill Barber and Brian Propp.
Before his career is over, he’s liable to catch just about everyone except Clarke for games, goals, assists and points.
“It’s a great honor,’’ Giroux said. “There’s a lot of good players that played here and to be able to be in that group, it’s very special.
Giroux’s plus-4 in this game tied a career high. It’s an indication he’s playing well at both ends of the ice.
“He’s doing a little bit of everything for us,’’ coach Dave Hakstol said. “He played well five on five, killing penalties, his power play unit tonight was outstanding, other than the puck not going in the net.
“What I really love about him is the battle level in tight areas, small area battles, the ability to come up with pucks and then make a play with it. The rest of it is pretty obvious and I think that anybody that’s watching can see that he can do out there. I love the compete and the battle level.’’
Tribute to Emery
With the Blackhawks in town, the Flyers played a video tribute to former Chicago and Flyers goaltender Ray Emery, who died last summer in a drowning accident in Canada. Emery won a Stanley Cup ring with the Blackhawks and had two tours of duty in Philadelphia.