PHILADELPHIA – Given Sean Couturier’s recent medical history, there might have been a bit of public concern when he was a no-show for Monday’s practice here at the Wells Fargo Center.
Inquiring minds wanted to know if this absence might have something to do with the two back surgeries which kept him out of action for a season and a half.
Relax, folks, it was just one of those “maintenance” days and he was back in the lineup for Tuesday night’s game against the Vancouver Canucks. He was, according to coach John Tortorella, a little too “banged up” to practice on Monday.
In fact, Couturier said he’s feeling good after playing two games (at Columbus, Ottawa) in three days.
“I feel good, I’m excited to see the fans,” Couturier said before the season opener. “It’s been a long time. It should be fun.”
Probably a good idea to take a day off than risk turning it into a bigger thing.
“I guess my body is not used to that anymore,” he said with a grin. “It’s starting to get back into the rhythm. It’s just a precautionary; get that extra day and felt better today. It is what it is but it’s part of the business.”
For the time being, this might be the nature of Couturier’s schedule.
“I know it was brought up,” he said. “I don’t know how much I’ll need it or when I’ll need it. I’m sure at some point, when there’s optionals and a lot of games in a short amount of time, I’m sure they will watch my load management with practices. We’ll see once we get there.”
Couturier reiterated the day off had nothing to do with the back surgeries.
He did concede he will have to keep an eye on the situation to make sure soreness does not turn into something a little more concerning.
“Yeah, it might just be that, I’m in my 30s now (30), I’m not in my 20s anymore,” he said. “Maybe that’s what it is. That’s kind of what I miss about the game though, you know, going through that grind. Here I am, game three, and it’s fun.”
So he does make some concessions.
“Just resting, recovering,” he said. “Some treatment, nothing crazy. It’s just day-to-day, it got better today. And here I am.”
With the down time fully discussed, talk turned to what the Flyers might need to do to improve on their 1-1 start.
“Obviously, I think maybe forwards can support a little better in our end,” he said. “It’s just one game (the 5-2 loss at Ottawa on Saturday afternoon). We have to move on and just be better. There’s no time to panic or anything. Just have to get back to playing our way and we’ll be all right.”
If this were the middle of January, Couturier’s self-urgency to play might be a little lower. But after sitting out this long, he was anxious to play in front of a home crowd.
“Of course it’s a special night but it’s more about the two points,” Couturier said. “It’s the end of the game that matters. If I feel good enough to help this team and get the two points, that’s what I will do.
“I’m sure it’s going to be a good atmosphere with everything going on around here.”
Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen missed his third straight game with an undisclosed injury. . .Center Morgan Frost was a surprise scratch. Also defensemen Emil Andrae was scratched.