Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Will Schenn's promotion hurt Couturier's growth?

Center Brayden Schenn, from all accounts, is going to be a quality NHL player.

Will Schenn's promotion hurt Couturier's growth?

Sean Couturier could see his minutes decrease since the Flyers promoted Brayden Schenn. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)
Sean Couturier could see his minutes decrease since the Flyers promoted Brayden Schenn. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)

Center Brayden Schenn, from all accounts, is going to be a quality NHL player.

But it’s fair to wonder if the Flyers promoted him too soon.

Not because of his ability, mind you. The 20-year-old center appears to be NHL-ready.

But I question the promotion if it means center Sean Couturier is only going to get about 10 minutes of ice time, as he did in Thursday’s 5-2 loss to undefeated Washington.

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Schenn, recalled from Adirondack on Wednesday, was inserted onto the third line, between Jakub Voracek and Scott Hartnell.

That moved Couturier down from the third line to the fourth unit, where he centered Max Talbot and Andreas Nodl.

Couturier had been averaging nearly 15 minutes a game and had been one of the Flyers’ most pleasant surprises.

On Thursday, he played 10:09, including only 5:36 in even-strength situations.

Coach Peter Laviolette downplayed the development, attributing it to the fact the Flyers had to kill six power plays, which disrupted the rotation of their lines.

True, but the Flyers killed EIGHT power plays against the Kings last Saturday and Couturier still managed to play 14:13.

Any way you look at it, Couturier’s time will be greatly reduced if he stays on the fourth line. Is that good for the development of a fast-emerging 18-year-old?

Center is Couturier’s natural position, but the Flyers might be better-served putting Couturier _ who scored a goal late in Thursday’s loss _ at wing on the third line.

That might mean Scott Hartnell drops down to the fourth line. Yes, it’s an expensive spot for a $4.2 million winger, but Couturier’s development should be the priority.

Schenn was minus-3 on Thursday, but two of the goals Washington scored while he was on the ice were deflected off Flyers.

“I thought he had a strong game,” Laviolette said. “Sometimes the statistics are not a reflection of somebody’s game.”

You could argue that the Flyers would have been better-suited if they hadn’t recalled Schenn until (if) a top-nine forward was injured. Instead, they rolled the dice by scrambling three of their four lines.

Was it the right choice?

Give us your feedback.

* * *

Defenseman Kimmo Timonen injured his right hand blocking a shot and said he didn’t know if he would play Saturday. More will be known Friday….Schenn's line was minus-7.....Schenn won four of 11 faceoffs...The Flyers have allowed five or more goals in five of their last nine meetings with the Caps; they are 1-3-1 in those games…..James van Riemsdyk had seven shots and Jaromir Jagr had five…..Matt Carle and Andrej Meszaros each blocked five shots….The Flyers host St. Louis on Saturday night.

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