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Couturier hopes to play preseason games with Flyers

Center skating, recovering from lower-body injury sustained Aug. 10

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

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Sean Couturier hopes to play in the preseason with the Philadelphia Flyers after skating for a second straight day Tuesday.

The Flyers play five games in six days starting at the New York Islanders on Sunday, and three in six days beginning against the Boston Bruins on Sept. 24. Philadelphia opens the regular season at the Vegas Golden Knights on Oct. 4.

Couturier, a 25-year-old center, sustained a lower-body injury during a charity hockey game in Quebec on Aug. 10. He was on the ice Tuesday with power skating coach Slava Kouznetsov and teammate Wayne Simmonds at Flyers Skate Zone.

"I'd like to a play a few games, at least one or two, just to get back into game action before the season," Couturier said. "I'm just going by what they're telling me. They're holding me back a little bit. I feel great. We're being cautious, take it one day at a time, making sure it's completely healed."

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Couturier was expected to need 4-6 weeks to recover from the injury. Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said Couturier will be a partial participant when training camp opens Friday.

"We anticipate right now him doing certain drills in training camp, no contact," Hextall said Aug. 22. "Does he participate in the first 15-20 minutes or does he participate on his own? Right now, we anticipate him participating in some drills in training camp but not all."

Couturier said he could be ready to go full speed when camp starts but understands the cautious approach.

"We have the time to heal it, that's key," he said. "In the season, would have been less than that. Just happy to get the time to heal it and make sure I'm 100 percent when I get back."

Couturier said he has to become more familiar with moving around wearing a brace on his right knee.

"That's probably the toughest thing right now adjustment-wise, getting used to it," he said. "That can bring some restriction movement-wise, but once you get used to it, it's fine."

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Couturier said the injury occurred when he fell into boards competing for a loose puck with another player during the charity game. He got up and finished the game but when his knee felt tight the next day he knew there was an issue. An MRI diagnosed the injury.

He said this injury was different from the torn medial collateral ligament in the right knee he sustained in a collision with teammate Radko Gudas during a practice the day before Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He missed one game but returned for Games 5 and 6.

"It's not the same exact thing but it's similar enough I guess," Couturier said. "Let's just say it's not the same injury that wasn't healed. The previous injury in the playoffs had healed. It's a little different."

Couturier said his offseason workout regimen was similar to what it was after the 2016-17 season with a heavy focus on getting more explosive with his first three-step quickness, which he believes will help him build on his NHL career highs in goals (31), assists (45) and points (76) last season. He finished second in voting for the Selke Trophy to Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar as the player voted the best defensive forward.

"I'm motivated to prove I can do it year after year," he said. "Being compared with Kopitar and [Patrice] Bergeron as a Selke finalist, it was something that I'm proud of but it's something those guys have been doing for years. If I want to be in that category I need to prove I can do it year after year and be a consistent player in that type of game."

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