Russia forward Ilya Kovalchuk takes the puck to the goal during a shootout against Slovakia in overtime of a men's ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. Kovalchuck scored the winning goal to give Russia the 1-0 win. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez )

Kovalchuk misses practice, still expected to play Tuesday


The availability of Ilya Kovalchuk has been a question mark going into Russia’s qualification game against Norway on Tuesday.

Kovalchuk sustained an injury in the second period of Sunday’s contest against Slovakia, but he managed to return before the conclusion of the contest and found the back of the net during the shootout.

Adding to the concern though was the fact that Kovalchuk missed Monday’s practice. After the skate, Russia head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov attempted to put those fears to rest by specifying that Kovalchuk was held out for precautionary reasons. He went on to say that the 30-year-old forward will be in the lineup against Norway, according to Puck Daddy and TSN’s Dmitry Chesnokov.

It’s not clear what will happen to the Russian lines if that changes. Viktor Tikhonov took Kovalchuk’s place on a line with Pavel Datsyuk and Alexander Radulov, but it’s likely that Tikhonov was just keeping the spot warm given that he also filled in on the top power-play unit. The Russians haven’t used Tikhonov yet in the 2014 Olympics.

After PTO, Upshall signs one-year deal with Blues

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Scottie Upshall has parlayed his training camp tryout into a contract with St. Louis.

On Monday, the Blues agreed to a one-year, two-way deal with the veteran forward, worth $700,000 at the NHL level. The deal comes after Upshall spent all of training camp and the preseason impressing the Blues his speed and skating ability, no small feat for a 31-year-old veteran with over 500 NHL games on his odometer.

But where Upshall fits in the Blues lineup — and within the organization — remains to be seen.

The club has plenty of depth up front and Upshall isn’t coming off a terrific campaign, having scored just eight goals and 15 points in 63 games with Florida last season. That said, he showed enough to be just one of a handful of veterans on PTOs to score a contract.

Panthers’ Crouse is going back to junior

2015 NHL Draft - Round One
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Lawson Crouse is going back to junior. The big 18-year-old winger confirmed it today on Twitter.

Crouse was drafted 11th overall in June by the Florida Panthers. Despite the club’s belief that Crouse could make “an immediate impact” on the roster, he finished the preseason with just two shots and one assist in three games.

Crouse will return to the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs, with whom he’ll look to improve on his modest point totals from last season.

“I don’t think there’s any pressure on the kid,” coach Gerard Gallant said last week. “If he doesn’t make the team this year he goes back to junior … and will have a lot of success.”