Author: Jason Brough

Kevin Shattenkirk

Shattenkirk ready? Blues send Butler to AHL

In a move that may signal the return of Kevin Shattenkirk, the St. Louis Blues announced today that they’ve assigned defenseman Chris Butler to AHL Chicago.

Shattenkirk has been on injured reserve with a lower-body injury. He’s only played three games this season; his last was on Oct. 13 versus Calgary.

Last week, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said Shattenkirk was close to returning.

“He’s days away; he’s not weeks away,” Hitchcock said, per NHL.com.

The Blues’ next game is Saturday in Nashville.

With Shattenkirk, the Blues would have seven healthy defenseman.

Couturier returns for Flyers tonight in Calgary

Sean Couturier

Sean Couturier will be back playing center for the Philadelphia Flyers tonight in Calgary.

It will be Couturier’s first game since suffering a concussion on Oct. 21, when he was controversially hit by Boston’s Zac Rinaldo.

GM Ron Hextall is hopeful that the 22-year-old’s return will help his team, which lost its fifth straight game Tuesday in Edmonton.

Couturier has missed the last six contests.

“He’s a big part of our team,” Hextall told Philly.com. “He’s not the most noticeable player. He’s not the guy who steams down the ice on an end-to-end rush, but he does all the little things well. He’s a complete player.”

Rinaldo was not suspended for the hit, despite the injury to Couturier.

Related: Hextall surprised at no suspension for Rinaldo’s ‘irresponsible hit’

Goalie nods: Ullmark goes for third win in a row

Zemgus Girgensons, Josh Gorges, Steve Bernier, Nikolay Kulemin
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The former goalie of the year in Sweden has been playing pretty well in North America.

Linus Ullmark will get another start tonight when his Buffalo Sabres host Tampa Bay.

Ullmark is 2-1-0 with a .930 save percentage since being called up from AHL Rochester. He stopped 29 of 30 shots Sunday in a 2-1 victory over the Islanders.

“It’s amazing what a couple of big saves can do,” Sabres forward Sam Reinhart said of Ullmark. “It can turn two losses into two wins just like that. He’s been great.”

On Friday, Ullmark stopped 27 of 28 shots in a 3-1 victory over Philadelphia.

Andrei Vasilevskiy will start for the Lightning.

Elsewhere…

Jaroslav Halak for the Islanders. Mike Condon for the Carey Price-less Canadiens.

— Tuukka Rask likely for the Bruins. Braden Holtby for the Capitals.

Michael Hutchinson likely for the Jets. Craig Anderson for the Senators.

Pekka Rinne expected for the Predators. Devan Dubnyk for the Wild.

— Michal Neuvirth for the Flyers. Karri Ramo for the Flames.

— Semyon Varlamov for the Avs. Mike Smith for the Coyotes.

Sergei Bobrovsky seems likely for the Blue Jackets after a 41-save victory Tuesday in San Jose. Jonathan Quick expected for the Kings.

Al Montoya for the Panthers. Alex Stalock for the Sharks.

Eberle ‘ready as I’m going to be,’ could return Friday for Oilers

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The Edmonton Oilers may have lost Connor McDavid for “months,” but at least winger Jordan Eberle appears ready to return to the lineup.

“I’m as ready as I’m going to be,” Eberle said Thursday. “I’m excited to get back and finally get my season going.”

Eberle, the club’s leading scorer in 2014-15, has not played a game since hurting his shoulder in the preseason. Today at practice, he skated on a line with center Leon Draisaitl and winger Taylor Hall.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins centered the other top line, between Benoit Pouliot and Nail Yakupov.

The Oilers (5-8-0) host the Penguins Friday, before heading out on a four-game road trip.

World Cup: Babcock to coach Canada, assisted by Julien, Trotz, Quenneville, and Peters

Mike Babcock
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Five NHL head coaches will make up the staff on Team Canada’s entry in the 2016 World Cup.

Hockey Canada announced today that Mike Babcock would be the head coach, assisted by Claude Julien, Barry Trotz, Joel Quenneville, and Bill Peters.

Excerpts from the press release:

Mike Babcock is the first and only coach to join the IIHF Triple Gold Club, having won an IIHF World Championship (2004), a Stanley Cup (2008), and two Olympic gold medals (2010, 2014). 

Claude Julien (Orleans, Ont./Boston, NHL) was part of Babcock’s coaching staff when Canada’s National Men’s Team won its second consecutive Olympic gold medal at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. 

Barry Trotz (Dauphin, Man./Washington, NHL) has served as an assistant coach for Canada’s National Men’s Team at the IIHF World Championship on four occasions – 2002, 2003, 2009, and 2013 – delivering one silver (2009) and one gold (2003) for Canada.

Joel Quenneville (Windsor, Ont./Chicago, NHL) is fresh off his team’s most recent Stanley Cup win. Quenneville, who is in his eighth season with the Chicago Blackhawks, has led the team to three Stanley Cup championships in seven playoff appearances.

Bill Peters (Three Hills, Alta./Carolina, NHL) is coming off a role as assistant coach of Canada’s National Men’s Team that won gold at the 2015 IIHF World Championship last spring. … He is in his second season as head coach of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, and previously spent three seasons as an assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings under Babcock.

Canada plays its first game of the World Cup on Sep. 17, 2016, against the Czech Republic in Toronto.

Related: USA Hockey confirms John Tortorella will coach World Cup squad