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Couturier optimistic Stanley Cup will be awarded under 'unique situation'

Flyers forward doing old-school workouts to prepare given circumstances of pandemic

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Sean Couturier is remaining positive that the 2019-20 NHL season will resume and that the Stanley Cup will be awarded.

"I think guys are still believing in finishing the year, finishing the playoffs," the Philadelphia Flyers center said Tuesday. "Not sure how everything is going to go down, but I think everyone's pretty optimistic for giving out the Stanley Cup this year."

The NHL season has been paused since March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

The Flyers (41-21-7) were considered a Cup contender, trailing the Washington Capitals by one point for first place in the Metropolitan Division, a major rise from when they held the second wild card from the Eastern Conference on Jan. 7. Since then, Philadelphia is 19-6-1, tied with the Boston Bruins for the best record in the NHL.

"Before this all happened, it was pretty exciting to be a part of," Couturier said. "We were all kind of on the same page with our mindset and making a push in the playoffs. It's too bad what's going on. Hopefully, we can figure something out to finish the playoffs or the year down the road. We'll see what happens."

 

[RELATED: Hayes continues leadership role with Flyers during pause]

 

Couturier is second on Philadelphia with 59 points (22 goals, 37 assists) in 69 games and first with a plus-21 rating, and his average of 19:50 of ice time per game leads Flyers forwards.

Couturier is one of 66 NHL forwards averaging at least 15 minutes of even-strength ice time per game (15:02; minimum 40 games). Under those parameters, he is tied for fifth with a plus-23 even-strength goal differential, and his 41 even-strength goals-against are tied for sixth fewest in the NHL. Among players to take at least 900 face-offs, Couturier is first in the NHL with a winning percentage of 59.6 percent , including 59.5 percent on defensive-zone draws, second in the NHL behind teammate Claude Giroux (65.8 percent).

Those stats are why Couturier is considered a contender for the Selke Trophy, which is awarded to the player voted the best defensive forward in the NHL. Couturier received votes for the award in seven of his first eight seasons, including in 2017-18, when he finished second to Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings.

"Not really something I really focus on all year," Couturier said. "Personally, my year went pretty well. So did the team. Obviously, I'm happy and honored to just be mentioned in the awards talk. It's just another year where I improved and as a team we evolved and got better as the year went on. Kind of feel my year reflected the team."

Staying in shape to continue that strong play has been an issue for Couturier during the pause. He said jokingly that his biggest workouts came when he's "going up and down the stairs doing some laundry, doing some dishes," but added that he is going on daily runs and doing pushups and situps.

"Old-school workouts, ones you grew up doing at home," Couturier said. "It's not ideal, but it is what it is. Trying to be as prepared as I can with the circumstances we're in."

Couturier said he is confident those circumstances will pass and he'll get back to playing. When and in what format, however, he's not concerned about. 

"I know there's been talks in the media about [neutral sites] and different scenarios, having a 24-team playoff," he said. "But at the end of the day, I think they're just trying to find the best solution possible. It's a unique situation and it's going to be different no matter what. I think they're just kind of studying every option possible and trying to make the best decision possible for the League."

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