Couturier's Role Increasing As Season Winds Down

PHILADELPHIA -- With a horrible season coming to a close, it's time to count the positives

The easiest way to feel positive about things in the present for the Flyers is to relate them to the future. And the best way to do that is to take a look at the youth.

We are seeing Oliver Lauridsen and Erik Gustafsson get playing time, the Schenn's (Older brother Luke and younger brother Brayden) are both standing out in a good way, and Sean Couturier is taking advantage of increased ice time.

Couturier, specifically, is fantastic news. He went from a dazzling rookie to a player in a serious sophomore slump. 

Frustrations hit and fans started to not see him as untouchable. But with the trade deadline in the past and just 5 games remaining in the season, number 14 is looking like a player that has a lot to prove.

This offseason may see the organization making drastic changes and much of the evaluations will be of individual play, so every player on this roster has a lot to play for right now. It takes mental toughness to still play with heart and dedication knowing there is a high likelihood of not making the playoffs but the best players keep playing.

The "what have you done for me lately" phrase tends to come into play a lot.

We're seeing it with Danny Briere and now we're seeing it with Couturier, but at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Briere's future does not look so bright because he has done nothing this season, but Couturier is turning the outlook of his future around with recent play.

Five games ago, Couturier had just over 10 minutes of ice time and no offense. He had no time to contribute.

Last night he had over 22:16 of ice time -- leading all Flyers forwards, mind you -- and recorded his first point since April 4.

It's amazing what confidence can do for a guy even in a season like this. He made it through the trade deadline and now his coach is showing confidence in him. Just like that, things are looking up for Couturier.

Even the best players will suffer if they aren't getting the playing time they need or aren't being used the correct way. Of course it may not be only about ice time since Couturier cannot get 22 minutes every night, but if anything, the drastic increase sparked something in him that will likely carry over into tomorrow night's game.

Any small bright side with five games remaining is a cause for joy for Flyers fans. And seeing young players still playing hard with the right attitudes is reassuring.

This season may be a disaster but players like Couturier are a cause for hope for the future.

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You can follow Alicia on Twitter (@Activestick_44) as well as read more of her work on Crimespree Hockey.