2013 Year in Review: Sean Couturier

Image courtesy of cbc.ca

The simple answer as to whether Sean Couturier had a good 2013 season would be no. If you look at his general statistics, Couturier had a poor year. However, when grading Philly’s first-round pick in 2011 one should consider these things: his defensive play, a possible sophomore slump, and the expectations for him following the 2012 playoffs. When you consider these things for Couturier’s overall 2013 rating, did he really have that poor of a season?

Let’s starts with his point production. In 45 games, Couturier finished with just four goals and posted 11 helpers. He also produced 10 PIMs and a minus-8 plus/minus rating during the 2013 regular season.

As bad as those numbers are, they aren’t that far off from the point-per-game pace Couturier posted last season. With 13 goals and 14 assists in 77 games during the 2011-2012 regular season, Couturier averaged .35 points per game. In 2013 he averaged .33 points per game. The goal total may have fallen off, but he had just three less assists this season than he did in 31 more games last year.

One stat that obviously got worse for Couturier from last year to this year was his plus/minus rating. He had a 26-point difference in his plus/minus rating, as he was plus-18 in 2011-2012. This stat makes sense when you look who Couturier was playing with and against.

A great stat to look at to see what Couturier was working with is Corsi Quality of Teammates, which illustrates the quality of what a player was working with in linemates. Couturier had the fourth-lowest Corsi Quality of Teammates this season with -7.342, as the only skaters to work with lesser talent were Zac Rinaldo, Ruslan Fedotenko, and Jay Rosehill. Taking that into consideration, the fact Couturier had only three less assists in 31 less games, while playing with such little talent, makes it harder to argue Couturier had a horrible season.

Couturier’s two-assist game in a Flyers’ 5-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 4th. Thanks to NHLVideo.

Another key stat to look at is Corsi Quality of Competition, which illustrates the quality of competition an individual has faced all season. Couturier finished fourth on the team in this category with 1.936, as the only players on Philly’s roster to finish higher than Coots were Oliver Lauridsen, Simon Gagne, and Scott Hartnell. This explains why a player like Couturier spent the majority of his time keeping the puck out of his own net rather than going on the attack.

It’s also important to keep in mind that Couturier is more productive as a two-way forward that showcases shutdown defense rather than offensive explosiveness. He had an amazing series against the Pittsburgh Penguins last season because he shut down the eventual Hart Trophy winner in Evgeni Malkin, not because he registered a hat trick in his second playoff game ever. Aside from Game 2 in the ECQF, Couturier failed to record a point in 10 postseason games last year. It didn’t matter because he was getting under Malkin’s skin, while keeping him from finding the back of the net.

With that in mind, another interesting stat to look at for Couturier is blocked shots. In 2011-2012, Coots blocked 33 shots in 77 games. This year Couturier denied 27 in 46 tilts. The second-year skater would have definitely passed last year’s total if this wasn’t a shortened season, which bodes well for Philly’s forward going into next season.

Peter Laviolette also showed that he can trust Couturier, as the forward started many of his shifts in the neutral zone or defensive zone and he took a higher percentage of the Flyers’ draws.

Out of the 26 skaters to suit up for the Flyers this season, only two players, Rosehill and Adam Hall, were the only skaters to have a lower percentage of shifts start in the offensive zone. As for faceoffs, Couturier took 19.9% of Philly’s faceoffs this year compared to taking 17.7% of the team’s draws last season.

Looking at the sexy numbers, like goals and assists, it’s an easy assessment to state that Couturier had a poor season. When you look at the underrated stats, like quality of competition faced and quality of teammates to work with, one could argue that Couturier didn’t have as horrendous a campaign as many would like to think. It’ll be interesting to see how the forward comes out for his third year in the NHL after a regular offseason and preseason.

  • William@gmail.com

    Great article! Now do the same for Brayden Schenn…night and day.