Injured players set to return for Flyers, Blues

ST. LOUIS -- Both the Philadelphia Flyers and St. Louis Blues are expected to get a significant player back from an injury in time for their matchup on Wednesday night at the Scottrade Center.

Flyers center Sean Couturier missed the past 16 games because of an medial collateral ligament sprain to his left knee.

"He's a huge part of our team, and we've seen that time after time when he's in the lineup versus out," coach Dave Hakstol said. "It he's available, it would be nice to have him back."

For the Blues, center Paul Stastny missed the last game before the Christmas break, a 5-2 loss at Tampa Bay on Thursday, because of an upper-body injury. However, he practiced on Tuesday, and coach Ken Hitchcock said Stastny would play against the Flyers.

Stastny was injured in the Dec. 20 game at Dallas.

"I think it was just a wear-and-tear issue, and as the game went on, it just got worse and worse and it was a tightness," Stastny told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I felt it the game before, too, after the Chicago game, after the Edmonton game. I think just the three (games) in four (days) with the travel didn't really help."

The Blues (18-12-5) hope the rest will lead to more offensive production from Stastny, who like the rest of the Blues' centers, is struggling to score goals this season. Stastny has seven goals in 34 games, the most of any of the team's four centers. Kyle Brodziak, who centers the fourth line, has five goals. Patrik Berglund also has five, and Jori Lehtera has four.

Stastny's return gives the Blues a healthy roster for Wednesday, but the Flyers will still be missing forward Matt Read, out with an oblique muscle pull, and goalie Michal Neuvirth, who has missed 20 games because of a left knee injury.

"Feeling good and will go day by day," Neuvirth said after practice Tuesday, according to "For me, it's just getting back to 100 percent and to feel good about myself again. Today was a real good practice -- I was doing everything, and it was the first good test for me."

The Blues' No. 1 goalie, Jake Allen, will get a rest on Wednesday as backup Carter Hutton will start against the Flyers.

The game will be the first of a three-game trip for the Flyers and it opens a six-game homestand for the Blues. The St. Louis home stretch includes the outdoor Winter Classic matchup against the Chicago Blackhawks on Jan. 2 at Busch Stadium.

The Flyers (20-12-4) are 11-2-1 in their past 14 games, despite the fact they have been held without a power-play goal in 15 chances over the past six games. That was one of the reasons they lost three of their last four games before the Christmas break. The Blues have been one of the best teams at home in the NHL this season, but lost their last two at home, in regulation to the Blackhawks and in overtime to the Edmonton Oilers.
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