Couturier taken to hospital for further evaluation
Mike G. Morreale
PHILADELPHIA -- Flyers coach Peter Laviolette was at a loss for words when asked about the rash of head injuries his team has endured this season.
On Monday, the team learned leading scorer Claude Giroux would be out indefinitely with a concussion. Three days later, it was announced that Flyers captain Chris Pronger was done for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs with severe post-concussion syndrome.
Rookie Sean Couturier became the third player to be sidelined by a head injury this week after being hit in the head by a puck Saturday afternoon in a 6-0 loss to the Boston Bruins. Fellow rookie Brayden Schenn is also out with a concussion.
"You have to ask yourself, 'Are we in a bad stretch here?' " Laviolette said. "Is it some tough breaks where things are happening and guys are getting banged in the head? … It's a good question."
Couturier was helped off the ice with just 48.7 seconds remaining in the first period after being struck on the side of his head by a rising slapshot off the stick of teammate Kimmo Timonen.
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren told the media after the game that Couturier, the team's eighth-overall pick in the 2011 Draft, was taken to Pennsylvania Hospital for further evaluation. He underwent immediate testing upon entering the locker room and, according to Holmgren, passed all tests.
"Fortunately, [the puck] hit him in the helmet, but we thought it was best to send him to the hospital and get him checked," Holmgren said. "The little testing they do, he did really well [after coming off the ice]. I think that's more checking for any damage to his skull and taking a look to see if there's any internal damage."
The puck appeared to hit behind Couturier's left ear. Couturier does wear a shield, but he remained on the ice for several minutes before finally being helped off.
"I was getting ready to take it into my head actually," Bruins goalie Tim Thomas said. "The way the shot was coming, it was coming at my head and, as a goalie, you sometimes try to glove it. I was keeping my arms down in case it got tipped, so it couldn't get tipped through my arms. I was getting ready to eat it in my face, but I have a goalie mask which is different.
"I hope he's OK, because it did get him in the helmet."
Laviolette, whose team lost for the first time in eight games, could only shake his head when asked he feels his team is snake-bitten.
"I think sometimes things are cyclical," Laviolette said. "When the power-play is bad, it's bad and if you take too many penalties, you're doing it four games in a row. Things happen but you have to go through it. It's tough to miss those guys or see an injury like that happen tonight, but we have to plow though it now."
Laviolette was especially upset since Couturier, who entered the game second among rookies with a plus-10 rating, had been playing so well for the club.
"He's such a good kid and good hockey player," Laviolette said. "He's really earned the respect of his teammates. When you see something like that happen to anybody, your heart stops for the second and you feel that pit in your stomach. For it to happen to a young player like that who has done all the right things for us this year is tough. We hope he's OK and it's nothing too serious."
Holmgren was asked if he would need to recall a center from the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Adirondack. Couturier will not join the team on the initial leg of its upcoming five-game road trip.
"I don't know, we got to count up the guys we've got here and see," Holmgren said. "We do have some flexibility. Matt Read can play center. Obviously, [Brayden] Schenn and [Claude] Giroux are probably not options here for the near future so I'm not sure. We'll have to talk about that."
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