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.
- Report: Patrick Roy a candidate for Avalanche head coaching job 0
- Senators’ OT hero Greening had fiberglass pieces removed from face 1
- Discuss: Senators win Game 3 in double overtime 19
- Report: Kings’ Stoll may have head, shoulder injuries 12
- Rangers’ goaltending a concern? ‘We know what Henrik is,’ says Tortorella 22
- Discuss: Bruins find scoring touch in Game 2 win over Rangers 32
- Playoffs tonight: Spezza’s Game 3 return, Bruins-Rangers highlight your Sunday 5
- Penner blasts refs for having ‘gall to guess’ on goalie interference call 64
- Discuss: Sharks win in OT, draw series to 2-1 19
- NHL fines Sharks $100K for Torres suspension critique 45
- Alex ‘they wanted Game 7′ Ovechkin to address media today before heading to Worlds (110)
- Question for commenters: What’s the hardest team to support? (94)
- Video: Crosby scores hat trick, hits playoff milestone against Senators (91)
- Bryzgalov thinks Stalin did a good job, wishes Philadelphia wasn’t so old, and believes poor people don’t want to work (80)
- McPhee says lack of power plays ‘didn’t feel right’; Torts says Washington is ‘whining’ (70)
- PBT: Parker carves up Grizzlies as Spurs roll in Gm. 1
- PHT: Senators sneak past Penguins in two overtimes
- PHT: Bruins crack Lundqvist, hammer Rangers
- MST: No bumping on Bump Day at Indy 500
- PST: Arsenal grabs Champions League spot
- Ferguson's managerial career ends with 5-5 draw
- Moore stays unbeaten as Rays top Orioles