Apr 30, 2012, 6:05 PM EDT
The end result? Malkin was held scoreless in two of the six games and seemed aggravated throughout, taking a series of dumb retaliatory penalties (including this one on Couturier.)
So there was little surprise that, in Game 1 of the Devils series, Couturier drew another big-time assignment in Ilya Kovalchuk, New Jersey’s leading scorer. The 19-year-old silenced Kovalchuk (who went without a shot on goal) and later explained the difference in assignments to Wayne Fish of PhillyBurbs.com.
“It’s different guys, different styles a little bit,” Couturier said. “Kovalchuk is more of a shooter and Malkin controls the puck and likes to make plays.
“I try to play the same on every game, work hard on them, play hard on them, play whistle to whistle, play good defense and when we get a chance to play offense, create something.”
If the opening contest was any indication, Kovalchuk and linemates Zach Parise and Travis Zajac will be seeing plenty more of the Couturier-Max Talbot-Eric Wellwood trio. The line was fantastic in its customary shutdown role, drawing praise from Flyers forward Daniel Briere, who scored the winner in overtime.
“It’s pretty amazing, we’re talking about somebody who is 19-years-old that way,” Briere said of Couturier. “His line was amazing again last night. When he was matched up against Kovalchuk or [Patrik] Elias. . .to be realistic, we know we’re not going to keep a guy in check every single game.
“You try your best and take advantage when you keep him off the scoreboard.”
Last week, we wrote about rookies shining in their playoff debuts but (admittedly) didn’t do Couturier enough justice. His stat line is incredible — he leads all playoff rooks in goals, shots, takeaways and faceoff percentage; he’s also second in points, fourth in shorthanded ice time and fifth in hits.
All that while shadowing Malkin and Kovalchuk? Pretty impressive stuff.
- Vanquished: Isles stun Canucks with seven-goal third period 14
- Peverley asked to return to game following ‘cardiac event’ 15
- Peverley hospitalized, conscious after collapsing on Stars bench (Update) 13
- Sens’ Ceci won’t return after Weber’s shot lacerates his ear (Update) 7
- Gillis pleads his case: ‘We are enduring a challenging period’ 22
- Nolan gets a game for punching ‘unsuspecting’ Joensuu 37
- It doesn’t sound like 3-on-3 overtime is going to be a thing 38
- Blues finish night on top of NHL standings after shootout win 15
- Kings’ Nolan gets double-minor for punching Oilers’ Joensuu 54
- Extended overtime likely to be on agenda in GMs’ March meeting 42
- Canucks trade Luongo to Panthers (93)
- BLOCKBUSTER: Lightning trade St. Louis to Rangers for Callahan (82)
- Kings make splash, acquire Gaborik from Columbus (72)
- Steve Moore remains shocked, disgusted about Todd Bertuzzi attack (70)
- Report: Flyers table ‘substantial offer’ for Kesler, also inquiring about Edler (59)