VOORHEES, N.J. — The last time Sean Couturier played a meaningful game, he got drilled into the side boards by Washington’s Alex Ovechkin.
Couturier suffered an AC sprain in his left shoulder during the second period of Game 1 against the Capitals and missed the remainder of the playoffs.
“Most of the summer was a lot of rehab, trying to strengthen that shoulder,” said the Flyers center, who is practicing at Skate Zone. “Now I feel good. I’m not gonna lie, it took me longer than I thought.”
The 23-year-old reported early. He’ll travel to Montreal on Sept. 4 for Team North America’s training camp and the upcoming World Cup of Hockey Tournament next month.
“I’m trying to skate as much as I can to get back in the rhythm,” Couturier said. “I think it’s going to be tough to get in the rhythm right away. We’re not used to playing that high level hockey in September, but every guy on every team is going to be like that.
“Once we get out there, the level is going to be pretty high right off the bat. I think it can help me personally be ready for the season and step right into game action.”
Eight Flyers will participate in the eight-team competition. The others: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Claude Giroux, Shayne Gostisbehere, Mark Streit, Radko Gudas, Jakub Voracek and Michal Neuvirth.
Team North America is comprised of age 23-and-under players.
“I don’t really listen too much to the hype and stuff in the summer, but we can definitely surprise some people,” Couturier predicted. “I don’t think there’s much attention for our team. Really no one knows what we’re gonna look like.
“We’re gonna try and surprise the world, basically and try to win the tournament. We’re not going there as tourists. We feel we have a good group and a lot of skill and speed and we’ll surprise some teams for sure.”
Couturier is a perfect North American because he has dual citizenship – U.S. and Canada. Though born in Phoenix, he spent nearly his entire childhood in Canada.
“For me, I’m dual citizenship, so that’s the way I see it,” Couturier said of playing favorites. “It’s a little different, but at the same time the mindset is more about trying to win the tournament. Once you’re out there and on a team you’re just trying to win and I think that’s what we’re looking forward to.”
This tournament offers Couturier a chance to test his shoulder competitively before pre-season NHL games start.
Obviously, the Flyers will open camp here without some of their best players.
“Everyone’s had a long summer, so I think everyone’s kind of looking forward to getting back into action,” Couturier said. “We’re lucky. We’re fortunate to get back into action earlier than we usually do. I’m just happy to be part of it and live the experience.
“I know a little what to expect international-wise – I went to the Worlds two years ago. This is going to be high level. No easy games.”
Ten players, including Gostisbehere and free agent Russian forward Roman Lyubimov, who was signed in July, are also working out at Skate Zone, which is under major reconstruction. … Because of construction, the Phantoms dressing room no longer exists. The Flyers have a logistics problem of where the majority of their players are going to dress during camp. ... Construction won’t be completed until sometime this fall. … As part of the club’s 50th anniversary celebration, the Flyers have decorated walls throughout their dressing room area with steel plates from old newspaper pages, and other media, commemorating their two Stanley Cups plus other historic moments from the past. … Brayden Schenn, who will miss the first three games of the regular season on a suspension, will play in preseason.