Flyers center Sean Couturier, who had a career season, was named one of three Selke Trophy finalists on Wednesday night.
The award is given to the league’s best defensive forward. Dave Poulin (1986-87) and Bobby Clarke (1982-83) are the only Flyers who have won the award.
Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar (92 points, plus-21) and Boston’s Patrice Bergeron (63 points, plus-21) are the other finalists for the Selke, which will be presented at the NHL’s award ceremony in Las Vegas on June 20. The finalists were selected by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
Bergeron has won the award four times, including three of the last four years.
Couturier, a first-time finalist who did not play in Wednesday’s playoff game against visiting Pittsburgh because of an injury (believed to be his right knee), was tied for third in the NHL this season with a plus-34 rating, a personal best. With Claude Giroux (102 points) as his left winger, Couturier also set career highs in goals (31), assists (45), and points (76).
Although the Selke is given to the best defensive forward, the player’s offensive production has also factored into the voting.
Couturier, 25, selected eighth overall in the 2011 draft, won the Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy this season as the Flyers’ most improved player after a vote by his teammates.
With Couturier sidelined, the Flyers used Nolan Patrick as their top-line center Wednesday on a unit with Giroux and Jake Voracek.
The other lines: Val Filppula centering Travis Konecny and Wayne Simmonds; Scott Laughton centering Michael Raffl and Jordan Weal; and Jori Lehtera centering Oskar Lindblom and Matt Read.
Lindblom was going to be a healthy scratch before Couturier was hurt in a collision with teammate Radko Gudas during Tuesday’s practice. The Flyers did not say how long they expected him to be sidelined.
“It’s a chance for other people to step up, and that’s what we’ve been doing all year,” Giroux said before the Flyers’ 5-0 loss, noting how teammate Ville Leino entered the lineup because of injuries and starred in the 2010 playoffs.
Weal made his NHL playoff debut. He was a healthy scratch in the first three games of the series, and was used sporadically down the stretch in the regular season.
“It’s hard. It really is,” he said of going in and out of the lineup. “I’ve had some experience with it. You’ve just got to draw on those experiences and handle it. … I’ve just got to look back on those and try to replicate them.”
Weal had four points against the Penguins in the regular season. No Flyer had more points.
Michal Neuvirth replaced Petr Mrazek and served as Brian Elliott’s backup at the start of the game. Neuvirth replaced Elliott midway through the second period… Penguins right winger Patric Hornqvist, a 29-goal scorer in the regular season, missed the game with an undisclosed injury.