Jason Brough

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Video: Subban said he’s ‘seeing progress every day’ in recovery from injury

P.K. Subban held a press conference this morning in Nashville and said he’s seeing progress in his rehab from injury.

But Subban won’t be able to play tonight against his old team, the Montreal Canadiens, due to an upper-body injury that may, according to reports, be a herniated disc.

“The good thing is that I’m seeing progress every day, so just getting better,” Subban said. “Obviously frustrated. You want to get into a game. Obviously everyone knows how important this game is for both teams and I’d love to be out there. But I’m just going to have to rely on my teammates tonight to get the job done.”

The 27-year-old defenseman has been placed on injured reserve. Yesterday, Predators GM David Poile said his fingers are crossed that his star player won’t be out much longer.

“We thought that he would be back sooner, but sometimes this is what happens with injuries,” Poile told reporters.

Blues place Rattie on waivers

ST PAUL, MN - JUNE 25:  Ty Rattie, drafted 32nd overall by the St. Louis Blues, greets members of the Blues, during day two of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft at Xcel Energy Center on June 25, 2011 in St Paul, Minnesota.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The St. Louis Blues are gambling they won’t lose Ty Rattie. But losing the 23-year-old forward is a real possibility after they put him on waivers today.

Rattie has played just four games, with no points, for the Blues this season. He played three more on a conditioning stint in the AHL, registering one assist.

The 32nd overall pick in the 2011 draft, Rattie was once a highly touted prospect. He put up huge numbers in the WHL with the Portland Winterhawks, and he continued to produce after he graduated to the AHL. Last season, he had 46 points in 62 games for the Chicago Wolves.

But Rattie last got into a game on Nov. 28, when he logged just 6:13 against Dallas. And if he’s not going to play, it leaves the Blues with only three real options — wait for injuries to hit, trade him, or put him on waivers so he can go play in the AHL.

They chose the third option. We’ll see now if their gamble pays off.

Tonight in Columbus, a chance for the Oilers to prove their doubters wrong

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 21:  Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers during the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on December 21, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Oilers defeated the Coyotes 3-2.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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People are still skeptical about the Edmonton Oilers.

That’s only natural, given the Oilers haven’t made the playoffs in a decade and, in that time, have drafted four times with the first overall pick.

They’ve been a pretty, pretty bad team over the last little while.

And to be sure, the Oilers are still losing games that good teams normally win. Like Saturday’s 3-2 shootout loss to Vancouver, a home game against a non-playoff side that had played the night before.

“We were flat, our execution was poor, we played the game standing still,” head coach Todd McLellan told reporters after that one. “We didn’t go after and skate against a team that played an overtime game the night before. When you stand around and try to do it the easy way, it doesn’t work.”

So when it comes to the Oilers, the skepticism is understandable. In fact, it’s wholly warranted.

Which leads us to their upcoming road trip, starting tonight in Columbus against a Blue Jackets side riding a 15-game winning streak.

If the Oilers would like to prove their doubters wrong, now would be a great time to do it. And to help them, they’ll get Andrej Sekera back after the veteran defenseman missed a couple of games due to illness.

“It’s a good opportunity to play the best team in the NHL right now,” said captain Connor McDavid.

At 19-12-7, the Oilers are still comfortably in a playoff spot, six points up on Dallas and Vancouver. But as mentioned, they have yet to earn the benefit of the doubt that they can hold on. The Oilers could still be caught by Calgary, Los Angeles, or even Vancouver for third place in the Pacific Division. And if that happens, they’d also have to fend off Dallas, Nashville, or even Winnipeg for a wild-card spot.

Oh, and one more thing about this Oilers team — their starting goalie, Cam Talbot, has made 34 starts, against just four for Jonas Gustavsson, who’s gone 1-2-1 with an .893 save percentage.

Talbot has played well, going 18-10-6 with a .919 save percentage, but no goalie has come close to matching his workload, which could make for an interesting stretch drive.

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It could also make for some criticism of GM Peter Chiarelli, if things go sideways.

After all, Gustavsson was a curious signing. His career save percentage in the NHL is just .902, the lowest among the 33 active netminders with at least 150 games of experience. Heck, it was Chiarelli’s former team, the Bruins, who didn’t feel confident enough to bring the goalie back for another season in Boston.

In other words, it’s no real surprise that McLellan doesn’t seem to have any confidence in his backup.

So it’s going to be fun to watch, as these Oilers try to make the playoffs for the first time since 2006. Lots of questions remain. Lots of doubters, too.

“You’ve got to look forward to the challenge,” winger Milan Lucic said ahead of tonight’s big game. “You have to embrace it. That’s the fun in being a competitor and on a competitive team. It’s playing the best of the best.”

And hopefully, for the sake of the Oilers and their loyal fans, coming out on top.

Things are getting interesting in the Atlantic Division

New Jersey Devils' Sergey Kalinin celebrates his goal as Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask and Austin Czarnik (27) look on during the third period of an NHL hockey game Monday, Jan. 2, 2017, in Newark, N.J. The Devils defeated the Bruins 3-0. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
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A poor performance by the Boston Bruins has opened the door for the Tampa Bay Lightning, who can move into a playoff spot with a win tonight over the visitors from Winnipeg.

The Bruins saw their modest two-game winning streak come to an end last night in New Jersey, where they lost, 3-0, to the Devils.

“We just couldn’t muster up anything tonight,” Boston coach Claude Julien told reporters. “We were flat. We were flat from start to finish.”

And so the Lightning will head into tonight’s game two points back of the B’s for third place in the Atlantic Division. And with two games in hand, they’d hold the tiebreaker if they can beat the Jets.

Meanwhile, the second-place Ottawa Senators are on their “bye week.” By the time they return to action Saturday, they could be out of a playoff spot themselves.

Speaking of teams from Ontario, the Toronto Maple Leafs have won five straight and currently sit just three points back of the Bruins, with four precious games in hand. They take on the Caps tonight in D.C.

And let’s not forget about the Florida Panthers. As disappointing as they’ve been, the Panthers still have the potential to go on a run, and they’re only four points back of Boston, with two games in hand. They host Winnipeg tomorrow, Nashville Friday, then have a big game with the Bruins Saturday at BB&T Center.

Detroit and Buffalo round out the division. Though neither team looks like it will be a factor down the stretch, you never know for sure. With a lengthy playoff streak on the line, the Red Wings will give it their all.

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It’s all shaping up to be a fascinating second half of the season. And not just in the Atlantic.

Because while some have conceded that the Metropolitan will have five playoff teams (leaving just three for the Atlantic), the Philadelphia Flyers, with just one win in their last seven, can’t be feeling too comfortable these days. The Flyers are just three points up on the Lightning for the second wild-card spot, and the Bolts hold a game in hand.

All four Wild prospects showing well at the World Juniors

SUNRISE, FL - JUNE 26:  Joel Eriksson Ek poses after being selected 20th overall by the Minnesota Wild in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center on June 26, 2015 in Sunrise, Florida.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The Minnesota Wild have only made 11 draft picks in the last two years, but it sure seems like they made some good ones based on what’s happening at the World Juniors.

Consider:

Russian forward Kirill Kaprizov, a fifth-round pick in 2015, leads the tourney with seven goals.

Swedish forward Joel Eriksson-Ek, a first-round pick in 2015, isn’t far behind with five goals.

American forwards Jordan Greenway and Luke Kunin have also shown well. The former was a second-round pick in 2015; the latter was a first-round pick in 2016.

“It’s been fun to see our guys performing so well,” said assistant GM Brent Flahr, per the StarTribune.

It’s been encouraging, too, given the Wild have a number of older core players, especially up front. Mikko Koivu is 33; Eric Staal and Zach Parise are each 32. Those three are all under contract through at least next season, and they can all still contribute.

But there isn’t a team in the NHL that doesn’t need a constant supply of young talent, and it’s harder for good teams like the Wild, who haven’t missed the playoffs since 2012.

Minnesota has another promising forward in Alex Tuch, a 20-year-old who’s currently in the AHL. Tuch was the 18th overall pick in 2014.

Related: Looking to make the leap: Alex Tuch