Couturier scores but Flyers drop exhibition

Sean Couturier has been one of the Flyers' best so far this year. Above, he shrugs off the Rangers' Jesper Fast.
Sean Couturier has been one of the Flyers' best so far this year. Above, he shrugs off the Rangers' Jesper Fast. (YONG KIM / Staff)
Posted: September 19, 2013

Sean Couturier took a step backward last year, but he is convinced it was an aberration.

The third-year Flyers center gained eight pounds in the offseason and says he is in the best shape of his young career.

"As I get older, I want to get bigger and stronger," Couturier said the other day. "Guys are so strong on the puck and you want to get stronger and out-battle those guys."

Couturier, 20, who had an outstanding rookie year but managed just four goals and 15 points in 46 games last season, has been one of the Flyers' best players early in the preseason. He scored a goal in the Flyers' 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center, giving him three points in two games.

"I feel more comfortable, more confident on the ice," Couturier said after he won eight of 11 face-offs. "I'm trying to make more plays and control the puck more."

Last year "was an up and down season, not what I wanted it to be," Couturier said. "It's behind me now and I'm looking for a better year. I want to be more constant and produce more."

Couturier centered Jake Voracek and impressive rookie Jason Akeson on Tuesday. He is expected to center the third line this season, with Matt Read and a player to be determined as his sidekicks.

Not knowing his linemates "doesn't change my mind-set. I just want to go out here and compete hard," Couturier said. "Try to get better."

Last year, Couturier lived with teammate Danny Briere in Haddonfield. Briere is now with Montreal, so Couturier is living on his own.

"Danny B. was really close with me," Couturier said. "It was easy to talk with him. Now that he's gone, I'll have to find another teammate [to lean on]."

After Couturier tapped in a behind-the-net pass from Voracek to tie the score at 2-2 early in the third period, the Rangers took the lead when Benoit Pouliot beat goalie Steve Mason from in front with 14:30 to go.

Mason, 25, is in an intriguing battle with Ray Emery for the starting job.

"Everything here has to be earned," Mason said earlier in training camp. "That is exactly what I'm going to go out and do. My goal here is to be the No. 1 guy. It's going to be a great competition, whether it plays out through camp or start of the regular season."

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette has been known to play the hot hand, so it wouldn't be surprising if he alternated goalies for a while after the season starts Oct. 2 - that is, until someone gets on a roll and seizes the spot.

Mason allowed three goals on 23 shots but didn't get much support from his defense.

"There are chances that are coming from an area 10 feet in front of him," Laviolette said. "We have to do a better job of cleaning it up. . . . We're not helping him out the way we need to in that area."


Max Talbot - who missed the end of last season with a broken leg - beat Rangers goalie Cam Talbot (no relation) with a high second-period shot from the left circle, tying the score at 1-1. . . . Captain Claude Giroux's surgically repaired finger is getting back to normal and there's a chance he will play in his first exhibition game next week, general manager Paul Holmgren said.

Contact Sam Carchidi at Follow on Twitter @BroadStBull.

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