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Flyers place Couturier on injured reserve

The hope of all NHL teams over the All-Star break is to get healthier for the stretch run of the season. The Flyers certainly needed the break, having played three straight games without Sean Couturier and dealing with health questions to both goalies Michal Neuvirth and Steve Mason.

The break did not help one of the Flyers defensive catalysts, at least based on the move the Flyers made during the weekend. Couturier was placed on injured reserve. The move can date back to Jan. 20, the day before Couturier was scratched for the first time, but it is an alarming downgrade from Couturier's day-to-day status, which left reason to believe Couturier would return on Tuesday when the Flyers return from the break.

Given the Flyers had an impromptu three-day break with the postponement of their game in Brooklyn last Saturday and a five-day break over All-Star weekend, Couturier's injury and subsequent move to IR is clearly long-term. The timing for his return is certainly unknown.

Couturier's importance to the team has been more evident in the previous three games. This season, the Flyers are just 2-5-2 when Couturier is not in the lineup, as compared to 19-13-6 in the 38 games he's played.

The Flyers struggled to contain the Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals and their superstar players, Evgeni Malkin in particular, without Couturier taking the elevated responsibility. The Flyers really have no comparable player to handle Couturier's role in those games.

The Flyers return to the ice on Tuesday night when they face the Montreal Canadiens at 7 p.m.

Kevin Durso is managing editor for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.

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