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Get to Know a Flyer: Sean Couturier

As part of the build-up to the first-round playoff series between the Capitals and the Flyers, Japers' Rink will be looking at some of the important but perhaps lesser-known players on the Flyers and how they might impact the series.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Couturier

#14 / Center / Philadelphia Flyers

6-3 |  211 |  December 7, 1992

Phoenix, AZ |  8th, 2011 (Philadelphia)

Assets Has outstanding two-way instincts. Is capable of playing a shutdown role with aplomb. Also boasts some untapped offensive upside and a very projectable frame.
Flaws Isn't the fastest skater, so he needs more work on that aspect of his game in order to maximize his two-way upside. Is also somewhat of a work-in-progress scorer.
Career Potential Talented two-way center with a little upside.(Assets, Flaws and Career Potential via The Hockey News player page)

Career 25-Game Rolling Five-on-Five Corsi-For Percentage:

Couturier 25gm Rolling

2015-16 Even-Strength Usage Chart:

Philly Usage Chart

Why you should know who he is: Couturier was a top scorer at the time of his draft, but has turned into a solid two-way second-line center in the NHL — arguably, a Selke-level one. Some observers were already noting Selke potential in Couturier's sophomore season itself, and he took a step forward this season at the other end of the rink, posting per-game scoring rates solidly in the second-line range, team-leading 5-on-5 rate stats, and terrific relative possession numbers (at least, prior to his midseason injury). With Couturier on the ice this season, the Flyers generated more "high-danger" chances and surrendered fewer than with any other regular forward.

In two games against the Caps this year, he went pointless with only two shots on goal (despite team-best shot diffferential). In his career, he has 3-4-7 with 34 shots on target in 18 games against Washington, numbers which aren't too far removed from his career averages.

At even strength, except to see Couturier frequently lining up opposite Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin, players against whom he's posted stellar numbers in the past two years (55% of the shots and all the goals in 39 minutes, and 60% of the shots and two-thirds of the goals in 53 minutes, respectively). He'll be a regular on the penalty kill and probably play on the Philadelphia's second power play unit.

How the Caps can stop him: Couturier can make an impact in any part of the ice, so he'll be able to make his presence felt regardless of how the Caps play.

That said, Couturier is not a focal offensive weapon — he's not fast or a great skater, he's not particularly involved in moving the puck into the offensive zone for Philadelphia (though that's partly system-related), and he can be overly deferential to his linemates in the offensive zone — so the Capitals just need to play good defense, keeping shots to the outside and tying up sticks in the slot, and they'll be fine.

The best, and perhaps most difficult way, to minimize Couturier's defensive impact is to simply keep Ovevchkin away from him as much as possible. If not, they'll need to be strong along the wall and move the puck quickly to keep it away from the big center.

Previously: Steve Mason | Brayden Schenn | Jakub VoracekNick SchultzShayne GostisbehereMichael Raffl