COU­TURIER NO ONE-TRICK PONY

A two-way pivot as a first-line cen­ter? The idea raised eye­brows at first, but his scor­ing break­out has si­lenced ev­ery last critic

The Hockey News - - NHL - – JARED CLIN­TON

BI’VUETBIEAELNWKANYOSWTNHOMUOGRHETAISCAOSUHLUDTBDROIWNNG GMUOYR, E OF­FEN­SIVELY. I JUST HAD TO BE PA­TIENT – Sean Cou­turier

YSean Cou­turier tdyepaelt­caw­sti­itnhg.thWe hhi­oleck­neoyt eyqeu­tiv2a5le, nC­touo-f OU COULD CALL WHAT gamest,uhraiedr, sapevnet­tehri­as­nfiorf­stm­soixre­sethasaonns40in0 laPin­hdeilaepdvleal­nype­htroisaugath­ankedrin­magsiko­nenudte­tot­sou, ogkhueteaaps­g­sait­gi­h­nes­mmt etonoptfs-f the score­sheet. He was good ihne tphleayre­o­dle.itSo­tome­newarou­ple­drf­sea­cyv­tiotne.sHine eacrhneodf Stheelk­peaTs­rtof­po­huyr bseaall­soot­ninsga. nd twice fin­ished top-nine in the Like many of those pi­geon­holed and lsy­tian­mg­pined­w­a­sitof­noer-tthoe­olo­plpaoyretrusn, iC­toyu­to­tuprrieorve­whaes was more than what most be­lieved him to bcoen, trhi­ab­tuhte ic­nouwl­dayb­sreoathke­orut­thoafn­hfi­is­er­sy­hell and iwni­tah­ndthJe­ol­hik­nesTaov­faSriedsn. e“yThCoros­es­b­fyi,rsEtvg­fievnei, tete-aMte­taelks six years I’ve been known more as a de­fen­sive guy, a shut­down guy,” Cou­turier said. f“eBnus­tivIeal­lyw. Iayjusst­th­hoaudghtot Ibceop­ualt­dieb­n­rti.n”g more of-

As it of­ten does, pa­tience paid off. coaL­co­hokDi­navge tHoakssp­taor­lkm­tahdee Fth­ly­eerdse’ cios­fi­foen steo, rso­huifxt tlont­ghteim­left­fisr­sidt-el,in­fe­lanck­en­hteimr CwlaituhderigGhitaw­isnh­goetr aJsak­tuobp-lVi­nore­acpeivkota.n(dThgeivye’reCocule­tu­verire­lyr clqaau­cle­lke­sodti­fos­tnhceoedriGn­ti­hgneg­peu­drnecBih­seiaaos­rnda, fcMli­atewingin­nCothoweu.)tdueSr­soieim­grn’es. But al­most from the mo­ment he hit the ice ah­bao­sud­tohnise on­fofetnhsian­isvge­abpNur­tooa.ws1seuc­sesan.gteear,llC­countcuer­ri­nesr thrIene hgios­alf­sir­ast­nd­fivsiex op­uoti­in­nt­gss. ,Hhee­do­ri­upb­pled hoifsf gpaominet­stoin­ta­tol bty­hethse a1s0o-ng,aC­moeut­mu­rairekr aw­nads, 2on0 pthae­cewfhoir­lea dnreiavrin5g0-tghoeasl,e9c0o-npdo-ih­nit­gh­seast­sos­ncoarl-l ing line in the NHL. In no way is he get­ting ndiost­tr­taoct­te­hd­in­bkyl­hoins­ge­taer­rlym­foarnmd,itnhsotueagdh.g“oI tbry mseygmb es­nttds,utrhin­regeth­toos­fieve­g­ag­mame­sesa,nadns­d­ta­tryt otove­dro,” Cy­outguer­tielor stasido.m“Iefty­i­mou­et­shd­inukritno­goamyuec­ahr ahnedaidt coan­mg­fo­ert­teaibth­lee.”r frus­trat­ing or you can get too cpearist ian­nCe­owuftou­urniedr’csarlmevelPal­taoyriyn­g­pen­ro­fos­r­malnl to his of­fen­sive game. There are out­siders Cwohuotuferaierre,dbaunt iitn’scrdeoansedthre­oloep­w­po­suiltde.eIxf­paon­syewthi­itnhg,ehaceh’s pfeaeslsi­in­ng­glegsasm­per,en­so­sut rme otorep. r“oG­douincge finiv­teoogras­mix­eschyaonucek­snaown­i­gy­ho­tuc’roemg­poairnegd to bgetf­bourte,mwohreniny­otuh’ered­pelfaeynis­nigveagsahi­unts­d­tot­wopn lri­on­lees, where you’re get­ting maybe one or two opt­poourgtuh­n­mi­tieen­stall­nyi.gYhot,u” Cfeoeul­tuthrieer­prseasidsu. “rTe­htahta’st oy­oruy­onueefedet­loy­coaup’ri­etan­liozt­edeovien­r­gy­ac­n­hy­atnhciengy­ouf­feg­net­sivAelsy. dBoeeinsg Caoli­ut­tluer­lio­ero’ser­tiomuet thsepreenht elh­posn.”sinixg sheisas­doen­f­senos­fivheis­gac­mare.eSr­p­wen­it­d­hi­nagfto­hceusfirosnt

stop­ping snipers al­lowed Cou­turier a win­dow into what makes those same top-flight scor­ers click. He hleoal­ren­seidn hcowver­tahgeey am­nad­kcear­poitoam­l­izefo. rG­tivhen­mh­sel’vsens,ot­fi­nand othf­feeinrssivkeat­tehsr, eCao­tuk­tun­roi­w­ern­hfaosr tjuokuin­seg td­heafetn­odne-ric­seoIuQt toof gaan­i­nal­manosat­d­dveavni­toaugse noav­teurre­op­n­poownewn­htes,naenxd­pl­haein­din­is­g­phlaoyws htoedaet­tfaec­nkds. “aTghaienrse­ta­trheessoame gli­un­yessthe­a­t­u­aseredp­torebtetya­sok­leid at both ends of the ice, and those are the guys that ahraeve­to­suogmhergtuoys­plway­hoa­gaarien­satl,l” oC­fofe­un­tuser.ieTrhseayidh.a“vBeugt ryeoaut skill, but you can take ad­van­tage of their weak­nesses de­fCeonustiu­vrei­leyr. ’Tshi­nate’sll­te­hcet cwaaryriIesthoivnekrt­thoeogth­amerea.”spects of ah­pliows­saip­ty­iloasyni,nint­togho,”e. sr“aHigideh’tsF­pl­sy­loae­crs­es­macaetrnt­thtew­er­ritSi­hg­chohtit­siLm­sa­teuic.”gkhtaonnd. “bHoed’ys

That’s not to men­tion Cou­turier’s un­der­stand­ing gm­o­ufayhk­soetwhaitm­toau­raes­de­heahvri­idsl t6to-fmo­geootv-oe3f,bf2ut0ht0ey-op­u­lu­uc­sakn.p“ofiTughuner­dreeforau­rmte­he­botwiog tDoogneatldt.o“Bthuet tphueckw,”aysahide fFe­leylesrysorueaorn­guhais­rd­hiApn, duy­seMs ah­cism­boad­kyestoit­srheiaelldy thoeug­phut­cok daenf­den­pduht­simit.”in good po­si­tions shuAt­ndotwhant’sCowuh­tu­a­tritehrosaerelo­foink­din­ing­gto ufltip­inthae hscurir­pyt ath­nids sgeat­sone. “tIh’vies wyeaaitre, dit’fso­raah­n­uog­pep­booro­tusnt,”ityC,oaunt­dur­tio­erfin­saildly. “I’m just try­ing to take ad­van­tage of it.”

IT’S ALL IN HIS HEAD The same hockey IQ that makes Cou­turier as su­perb de­fen­sive cen­ter has made him a cere­bral and cre­ative scor­ing threat.

SEAN COU­TURIER

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