April 18, 2018
The Flyers got a bit of good news on Tuesday morning, when it was announced that Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist would miss Wednesday night's pivotal Game 4 with an upper-body injury.
But even that slim silver lining, following a 5-1 drubbing over the weekend, didn't last very long.
After a freak injury during Tuesday's practice, the Flyers will find themselves without one of their top forwards, center Sean Couturier, as they look to avoid falling into a 3-1 series hole in front of the home crowd at the Wells Fargo Center. The 25-year-old collided with Radko Gudas during what appeared to be two separate-but-simultaneous drills.
Because of course he did.
The collision is scary enough on its own, but the reaction from Couturier – as well as the doctors and those around him – makes it even worse.
#BREAKING Our @6abc video of @NHLFlyers star Sean Couturier going DOWN at practice today after colliding with Radko Gudas. He limps off with the trainer. Claude Giroux told me "it didn't look good." So far no update from the #Flyers #NHLPlayoffs2018 #EarnTomorrow pic.twitter.com/SlfplFKjUd— Jamie Apody (@JamieApody) April 17, 2018
The Flyers had been silent on his condition and status for Wednesday's pivotal matchup all day, but a decision came down about 40 minutes before the puck was dropped – and it's not the one Philly fans were hoping to hear.
According to general manager Ron Hextall, Couturier will not play in Game 4 against the Penguins.
Per #Flyers GM Ron Hextall, Sean Couturier will not play tonight vs. Pittsburgh in Game 4. He is out with a lower-body injury.— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) April 18, 2018
There's still no word on the severity of the injury, however, as the team is still simply calling it a lower-body injury.
Couturier, who was moved up to the first line earlier this season, has provided a huge boost for the Flyers. His 76 points (31 goals, 45 assists) are third on the team behind only Claude Giroux (102 points) and Jake Voracek (85 points); they're also nearly double his previous career high (39 points, most recently in 2015-16). Furthermore, Couturier's contributions on special teams and in the defensive zone would be greatly missed, especially considering he's second among Flyers skaters in average ice time – only defenseman Ivan Provorov averages more.
Needless to say, winning Game 4 becomes substantially more difficult without Couturier. And a loss would put the Flyers on the brink of elimination as the series shifts back to Pittsburgh. Against Sidney Crosby and the two-time defending champs, that would all but spell the end for Philly.
The Flyers haven't provided any real updates on Couturier, who is having a career year for the Orange and Black, and whether or not he'll be ready to go against the Penguins.
As of now, per Ron Hextall, no update on Couturier.— Dave Isaac (@davegisaac) April 18, 2018
Following Wednesday's optional skate, head coach Dave Hakstol didn't have much to say about Couturier other than stating the obvious: He, like everyone else on the team, is a game-time decision.
Dave Hakstol opts to take a page from Mike Sullivan’s book and make everyone a game-time decision.— Dave Isaac (@davegisaac) April 18, 2018
As much as lumping everyone together as a gametime decision is ridiculous, I do truly get the sense that’s the situation for Couturier. I don’t think that right now they know for sure that he can’t play.— Dave Isaac (@davegisaac) April 18, 2018
Fans will have to wait until the Flyers take the ice for their pregame skate to find out if Couturier is able to go. But if he's not, that's a scary proposition for the home team.
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