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Flyers vs. Blues preview: Sean Couturier returns for Philadelphia

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Flyers return to the ice against St Louis tonight on NBCSN

NHL: Nashville Predators at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Oh hey, remember hockey? It was that sport that you liked once upon a time, back before some jolly dude dressed in red committed home invasion against billions of people this past weekend.

The world is obviously reeling from this brazen crime spree, but have no fear -- sports are a distraction from the difficulties of life, and the Philadelphia Flyers are here to help you forget.

Since we last saw them, the Flyers have basically held steady in the standings thanks to a league-wide holiday break. They enter tonight’s game in St. Louis, the first of a three-game road trip that will carry them into 2017, seven points up on the trailing Carolina Hurricanes in the Metropolitan Division standings.

Sean Couturier will make his return to the Flyers lineup tonight, likely centering the third line and taking it easy on special teams as Dave Hakstol eases him back in after missing 16 games. Taylor Leier will jump up to the top line, replacing an injured Michael Raffl, while Brandon Manning and Mark Streit will be out on defense. That means Nick Schultz is back in the lineup. Yeah, I forgot he was on the team too.

Steve Mason will get the start in net for Philadelphia.

St. Louis, like the Flyers, has not played in nearly a week, coming off a 5-2 loss to Tampa Bay last Thursday. Overall, the Blues have been a bit disappointing so far this season, sitting in third-place in the Central Division with a mediocre 18-12-5 record and a goal differential of negative-5. They’re likely only in third place thanks to the poor play of teams like Dallas and Nashville that were expected to be contending for the division title, but there’s obviously still time left in the season for all of that to work itself out.

The Blues are led offensively in just about every category by phenom Vladimir Tarasenko. His 16 goals and 22 assists through 35 games played this season are a team-high, and it’s good for fourth in the NHL. He’s been particularly hot in recent games, but hot streaks are kind of irrelevant when it’s been six full days between games.

In an odd twist, the Flyers will face goalie Carter Hutton tonight. Hutton is the clear backup for the Blues behind Jake Allen, and with the long break it’s a little odd that Hutton will get the start, even if Allen was going through some slight injury issues before the break.

You might remember Hutton from the 2009-10 season when the Flyers signed him right out of the University of Massachusetts-Lowell to serve as a backup when Johan Backlund went down to injury. (Hahaha man, that season was dumb.)

Tonight’s game is an 8 p.m. start on NBCSN across the USA. You can watch the game live streaming on the NBC Sports app or on NBCSports.com.

Flyers projected lineup:

Leier - Giroux - Voracek

Konecny - Schenn - Simmonds

Cousins - Couturier - Weise

Vandevelde - Bellemare - Lybimov

Provorov - MacDonald

Del Zotto - Gudas

Schultz - Gostisbehere

Mason