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After shutting down Malkin, Flyers’ Couturier now stifling Kovalchuk

Apr 30, 2012, 6:05 PM EDT

Sean Couturier AP

In the Flyers’ opening playoff round against Pittsburgh, rookie center Sean Couturier drew the assignment of shutting down Evgeni Malkin, the NHL’s leading scorer.

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.

  1. tcclark - Apr 30, 2012 at 6:11 PM

    I see a lot of Selke’s in his future. The kid is really impressive

    • vismund11 - Apr 30, 2012 at 6:13 PM

      respect.

      • gianthatr - Apr 30, 2012 at 7:33 PM

        Wait? Malkin averaged 1.33 PPG in that series? How is that “shutting down”? He was .12 off his season avg PPG…What was he supposed to avg? 2PPG? 3PPG?

      • phillies2k8 - Apr 30, 2012 at 7:58 PM

        When he says “shut down” he is referring to Malkin’s overall performance. He was even on +/- meaning he was virtually invisible over the course of the series. And I know you can’t ignore game 4, but with the Flyers up 3-0 in the series they had a bit of a let down. Malkins 3 points in this blowout is a bit misleading as the whole team sucked. Malkin had just 1 goal and over the other fours games and -4 in the deciding game 5.

      • gianthatr - Apr 30, 2012 at 8:24 PM

        He had the 2nd most shots on the team…. I mean I get he shut him down for the game your talking about but to say he was shut down for the series when he had the 2nd most shots and avg more than a point per game isn’t being factual.

      • lasallehockey81 - Apr 30, 2012 at 8:45 PM

        You’re talking about the likely MVP.. Over 100 pts… And you’re giving him any credit bc he came in 2nd in shots? 1 PPG sounds impressive but when you look at how the series went and Giroux’s 2.3 PPG, that doesn’t mean much. Bottom line, for an MVP, he was as close to a non-factor in deciding the series as it gets.

      • gianthatr - Apr 30, 2012 at 8:50 PM

        Ahh Orange colored glasses…

      • lasallehockey81 - Apr 30, 2012 at 8:56 PM

        Ahh, good comeback. Funny part is… You asked the guy up there what Malkin was supposed to do? Score 2PPG? Well, apparently to win a series.. If you’re an MVP in an offensive series… Yeah, that’s exactly what you were supposed to do. Philly’s MVP did.

      • mercyflush - Apr 30, 2012 at 10:40 PM

        gianthatr, did you even watch the series? 4 of Malkin’s 8 points were on the powerplay. In other words, when he *wasn’t* being shadowed by Couturier.

        Even strength, Malkin had 4 points in 6 games. Couturier shut him down as well as any player in the league could have. Malkin was a complete non-factor when he was on the ice with Couturier.

        you say its orange colored glasses that make us Flyers fans say this. But that’s nonsense – the article isnt written by a Flyers fan, and all the major sports outlets and hockey experts have talked about how well Courturier played, and how he took Malkin out of the series. Even the Penguins own beat writers were on that story:

        http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/sports/penguins/young-flyers-playing-like-veterans-in-series-631443/

        How about instead of commenting on our orange colored glasses, you take off the black and gold glasses for a moment.

  2. vismund11 - Apr 30, 2012 at 6:11 PM

    Russians must hate this guy.

  3. martysbetter - Apr 30, 2012 at 6:12 PM

    now stifling *an injured* Ilya Kovalchuk.

    • vismund11 - Apr 30, 2012 at 6:13 PM

      His pride will be injured further, by Coots.

    • mercyflush - Apr 30, 2012 at 6:15 PM

      you’re right. it doesn’t count.

    • tcclark - Apr 30, 2012 at 6:22 PM

      you almost make as many excuses as the real marty. Do you really think the kid could shut down Evgeni Malkin, but he couldn’t shut down a healthy Ilya Kovalchuk?

    • ml3939 - Apr 30, 2012 at 9:18 PM

      It’s great to have pride for the team you follow but you lose credibility in making this comment. Malkin is a stud, one of the top three players in the league and much more dynamic a player than Kovalchuk. Kovalchuk is a top player in this league. If Couturier could slow down Malkin, he should have less trouble doing the same with Kovalchuk, injured or not. The only difference is Kovalchuk probably will play more minutes than Malkin so Courturier won’t always be able to match up with him.

      As for the few remaining Pens fans defending Malkin. Malkin had 2 goals and an assist in the game 4 the 10-3 win for the Pens and he was a +4. All of the Flyers goals were power play goals that game and Courturier was a -1 for the game. All 3 of Malkin’s points came at even strength meaning at most, Courturier was on the was on the ice for only one of those goals. If you take game 4 out of the statistics (and based on how the series went, that game was the greatest anomaly), Malkin had a goal, 4 assists and was a -5. Of those points,1 goal and 3 assists were on the power play. In 5 games, he had 1 assist at even strength. Courturier did not shut him down, he owned him.

      • martysbetter - Apr 30, 2012 at 9:43 PM

        Not denying the kid shut down Malkin and would probably give Kovy fits, but the point still stands.

        He hasn’t shut down Kovy at 100%. Kovy is 45 lbs larger than Malkin, and when healthy, is one of the fastest players off the line in the NHL.

        Until he actually shuts him down at 100%, he doesn’t get credit for shutting him down – plain and simple.

      • mercyflush - Apr 30, 2012 at 10:42 PM

        whatever. you can tell yourself that to make yourself feel better when you’re watching the Flyers in the Eastern Conference Finals.

      • lasallehockey81 - Apr 30, 2012 at 11:00 PM

        After you shut down the likely MVP who has a Cup, I don’t see how Kovy, although a good player, would be any tougher of a challenge. That 45 lbs won’t mean much since he’s not a puck possession kind of player. Injury is a weak excuse this time of year since half the guys out there are playing with one. The guy had 21:20 in ice time, let’s not act like he’s on one leg.

      • ml3939 - May 1, 2012 at 1:00 AM

        Couturier is not an overly physical defender so Kovalchuk’s size should not be much of an issue. Couturier is defending with skill and positioning. I believe shutting down Malkin at 100% is more impressive than shutting down Kovalchuk at any percentage.

  4. govtminion - Apr 30, 2012 at 6:19 PM

    This kid is a beast. Philly, do NOT let him leave. EVER.

  5. broadstbully33 - Apr 30, 2012 at 6:23 PM

    when we acquired coots and schenn i had their roles mixed up i figured coots would be more offensively gifted(dont get me wrong kid has tremendous O upside) and schenn would be richards 2.0 but coots is carter and richards in one guy with way more hart and schenn is become a all around player in front if our eyes. big props to lavy for making these kids better and better with every shift….flyers are scary good and will be for at least 8 years all we need is weber patrolling the blue line and we become a dynasty

  6. dkphilly1122 - Apr 30, 2012 at 6:24 PM

    Kovalchuk isn’t hurt………..stop making excuses for him getting shut down by a 19 year old rookie. If he was that hurt or had a bad groin he wouldn’t be playing period. Just like Brodeur crying after the game about JVR interfering with his stick…….when he came outside the goal crease regardless, so even if he did it’s fair game.

    • emoser - Apr 30, 2012 at 9:22 PM

      Frankly I don’t care if he’s hurt or not. A win’s a win regardless of how much the other team is hurting. Injuries aren’t going to make the devils fans feel any better if they lose this series.

  7. illad3lph1a - Apr 30, 2012 at 6:25 PM

    Did you watch the pens flyers series at all? Malkin was clearly out of his game and stated it during the series. This guy is really good… You should watch him. Stats don’t lie and malkin was shut down, the dude is gunna be MVP this yr and he got worked by a younger hardworking player

  8. bcisleman - Apr 30, 2012 at 6:31 PM

    So “Coots” (better him than me w/ THAT nick!) has shut down two of the three best Russian Fs in the NHL and is about to be replaced as the next great Q prospect by…drumroll please…Mikhail Grigorenko. How do you like your irony served?

  9. njdevils44 - Apr 30, 2012 at 6:44 PM

    Hey philly retards he played against the parise elias zubrus line,way to play attention front runnnin querrs!

    • lasallehockey81 - Apr 30, 2012 at 6:50 PM

      Wow..look at that.. A Devils fan.. You don’t see one of those everyday.

  10. dembois - Apr 30, 2012 at 6:48 PM

    Columbus fans like this

  11. broadstbully33 - Apr 30, 2012 at 6:58 PM

    you can call philly fans ALOT of things bu front runners is not one of them….nice try buddy

  12. njdevils44 - Apr 30, 2012 at 7:01 PM

    Ok my bad pay attention then.

  13. broadstbully33 - Apr 30, 2012 at 7:11 PM

    i pay attention and flyers fans didnt write the article….anyway whats gonna be jerseys excuse after losing tuesday?

  14. illad3lph1a - Apr 30, 2012 at 7:14 PM

    @ njdevils44 clearly you have no idea what you are talking about. Lavy had him out there every chance he could to match up on malkin… Why?? Bc it was working really well… Hence the article. And oh by the way it’s 1-0 good guys

  15. njdevils44 - Apr 30, 2012 at 7:21 PM

    Oh my bad stupid forgot Malkin ison the devils.good for u your up one game guess its over.

  16. dannythebisforbeast - Apr 30, 2012 at 7:42 PM

    If he’s hurt than he should t be playing. Abuse he sucks right now

  17. dannythebisforbeast - Apr 30, 2012 at 7:44 PM

    Because The Pens were down 3-zip in the series before Malkin had any success. Devils are overmatched

  18. GenoPringles - Apr 30, 2012 at 7:58 PM

    For the love of god Filthy, please win something before putting your whole team in the hall of fame. I guess you need something to celebrate when your last cup was in ??? 1975. Your creamcheese sucks too

    • lasallehockey81 - Apr 30, 2012 at 8:13 PM

      1). Nobody mentioned “hall of fame”

      2). This wasn’t written by a Philly fan.

      3). Philadelphia doesn’t make cream cheese. Kraft makes that in Wisconsin. It was named after Philly in 1880 because the city was known for good food.

    • epictron1 - Apr 30, 2012 at 11:40 PM

      When’s the last time the Flyers went bankrupt?

  19. bag217 - Apr 30, 2012 at 8:11 PM

    Geno, what’s wrong with the cream cheese?

  20. tcclark - Apr 30, 2012 at 8:44 PM

    Jody Shelley= Hall of Fame

  21. phillyfreddy215 - Apr 30, 2012 at 8:50 PM

    Hey geno get Malkin’s cream cheese off your bottom lip.

  22. tackledummy1505 - Apr 30, 2012 at 9:55 PM

    1- I love how Pens fans are still following the Flyers lol. They must hate us that much. 2-Flyer fans need to just forget about individual awards. The NHL hates the Flyers and if they can help it, will do everything in their power to not allow a Flyer player win such an award. 3-Let’s just keep knocking and letting these idiots be mad, because our team is really young and we look to be competitors for the next decade. That’s more than Pittsburg, New York, and New Jersey can say. See who in the Atlantic Division has made the playoffs the most in the last 25 to 30 years. Guarantee the Flyers have made more playoff appearances.

    • bobhpine - May 1, 2012 at 12:42 AM

      playoff appearances = immortality….learn how to spell

      • maalea - May 1, 2012 at 11:00 AM

        Playoff appearances = franchise stabilty….learn capitalism

  23. dawglb - Apr 30, 2012 at 10:36 PM

    Jeff who?

  24. lostpuppysyndrome - May 1, 2012 at 10:26 AM

    Gahhhh I really hope Mark Scheifele turns out to be fantastic or the Jets really goofed on not picking Couturier.

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