St. Louis Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock, has credited two players with the recent success of the team; Jaden Schwartz and Robby Fabbri. Of course, Schwartz is one of the star players of the team and this kind of play is expected from him. He’s sometimes underestimated, but 18 points in 25 games is normal for a player of his tier.
The surprise comes in the form of Fabbri. Everyone knew he was going to put up some numbers, but 17 points in 28 games is impressive for someone who didn’t see any first-line time last season. At this rate he is on pace to hit the 50 point mark, 13 more than he had last season.
Robby Fabbri : The St. Louis Blues New Star
Fabbri credits a lot of his recent success to simply becoming more comfortable on the ice. Watching him play, it’s hard to argue that. Fabbri’s comfort has shown through in a lot of ways. Not only is he putting up more points, but he’s been a lot grittier and a lot more aggressive when he’s on the ice.
Hustling has never been a problem with Fabbri, like it is with some rookies, but so far he’s shown even more than normal. He’s even standing up for himself more, getting into only his second NHL fight, against Josh Gorges. Gorges was slashing Fabbri while he carried the puck into the zone, and, after what was probably an interesting conversation between the two, Fabbri dropped the gloves.
During the 8-4 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on November 12, Hitchcock went out on a limb and paired Fabbri up with Vladimir Tarasenko. Jori Lehtera centered the two, and the line was lethal. The three played together on even strength and on the power play, and were the line on the ice for all four goals scored that game.
Since that game, just under 75% of Fabbri’s ice time has been spent with Tarasenko at his wing. While paired together, Fabbri and Tarasenko have been one of the best pairs in the league. In the past five games alone, they have a combined 12 points. Fabbri has five of those 12, with all five coming in a three-game span.
In Tuesday night’s game against the Nashville Predators, Fabbri wasn’t able to get any points. This is most likely because of the slight line changes. Hitchcock moved Fabbri to the position he played in junior: center. At his wings were Tarasenko and Schwartz.
In concept, this was a great line change. The three have single-handedly won games for the Blues recently, and have playing styles that have complemented each other in the past. However, the move put a little bit more pressure on Fabbri’s shoulders, and it threw him off of his groove. Of course, when a center isn’t playing his best, nobody will be. All three players suffered a -2, even Tarasenko who had two assists on the night.
It was clear that the Fabbri-Lehtera-Tarasenko line was where Fabbri felt most comfortable. Putting Schwartz in Lehtera’s spot was a good idea on paper, but shouldn’t happen again. Instead, Lehtera should get the spot back in Thursday night’s game against the New Jersey Devils. If the line does get put back together, the game against the Devils shouldn’t be much of a challenge.
The three have been able to carry the team to victory before, and they won’t have any problem doing it again. If Hitchcock can keep his head and not change this lineup anymore, this will be the line that leads the Blues to the playoffs and even farther. A role like this wasn’t expected to be placed on Fabbri this early in his career. But nobody’s complaining, especially after such a strong start to the season.