‘Heart and soul' of Flyers playing through hip injury


VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers are struggling mightily to prevent goals.

The last thing they needed was to lose one of the best defensive forwards in the game.

Fortunately for the Flyers, they received good news on Sean Couturier's lower-body injury, which kept the 2019-20 Frank J. Selke Trophy winner out of Saturday night's 6-1 loss to the Islanders.

Couturier is trending toward playing Monday night when the Flyers host the Islanders (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP). He underwent an MRI on Sunday and it revealed a prior injury to his hip, which does not appear to be serious. Head coach Alain Vigneault said both Couturier and Flyers director of sports medicine Jim McCrossin felt that the 28-year-old center "should be good tonight."

Couturier took part in Monday's morning skate at Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone. The Flyers will make a decision on his status after Couturier takes warmups tonight.

"There's no doubt that Coots is probably our best and most consistent forward at playing the right way, checking when it's time to check and making the right plays at the lines — and it's all against tough opposition," Vigneault said Monday before the team's morning skate. "When he's in our lineup, we're a better team. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, but he looks good for tonight."

The 15-11-3 Flyers are allowing the NHL's second-most goals per game at 3.55; only the Senators are permitting more with 3.91. The Flyers have surrendered 51 goals in March (4-7-0) after yielding 52 through their first 18 games (11-4-3).

Couturier has been excellent in his return from a costochondral separation that forced him out for 10 games earlier in the season. Since returning in early February, Couturier has put up 18 points (six goals, 12 assists) in 16 games.

"Obviously we need Coots," Shayne Gostisbehere said. "He's the heart and soul of our team."

If Couturier does in fact play Monday night, Carsen Twarynski will sit.

In other lineup news for Monday night's game, Gostisbehere will replace Nate Prosser. Brian Elliott will start in net and Alex Lyon will be his backup, with Carter Hart in line to start Tuesday night's game.

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