The St. Louis Blues lost a critical part of their lineup on Thursday, when they placed fourth line center Kyle Brodziak on injured reserve. Brodziak is out for at least five weeks, after blocking a shot with his right foot in Tuesday’s 3-0 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Brodziak finished out the game, though, without missing a shift.
Placing a player like Brodziak on injured reserve for so long is never good for a team. The 32 year old has spent the entirety of his two seasons in St. Louis centering Ryan Reaves and Scottie Upshall. It’s been the only line that has remained consistent throughout the season so far, and the three have formed chemistry because of it. When asked after practice on Thursday, both wingers agreed that the loss will be hard for them to adjust to. They also said that the entire team is feeling the affects of the injury, considering how strong of a leader Brodziak is in the locker room. The problems showed through in their game Thursday night, when they lost 5-1 to the Minnesota Wild.
Kyle Brodziak Out for 5 Weeks with Foot Injury
In Brodziak’s spot Thursday night was Ivan Barbashev. Barbashev was the second pick of the second round in the 2014 draft. Since then, many Blues fans have anticipated his NHL debut. The 21 year old center has matured a lot with his play, and earned a call up after tallying 37 points in AHL 44 games so far. He’s a speedy goal scorer who’s shown promise when it comes to quarterbacking his line.
In his debut, Barbashev went without a point. He tallied ten minutes of ice time, centering Reaves and Upshall. With Brodziak in that center spot, the Blues fourth line has acted as an aggressive checking line that excels in the physical aspect of the game. However, the Blues weren’t sure how this role would work with a player like Barbashev. He adjusted to the role quickly, though, and had four hits in the game, the most out of any player on either team. Although the excitement of his debut might have contributed to his physical play a little, it’s still evident that Barbashev is wiling to change his play style in order to better fit with his linemates.
It’s likely that Barbashev gets to fill in for Brodziak during the entire 5 weeks he’s out, but not guaranteed. The Blues have a lot of promising forwards in their AHL system this year, and since Barbashev doesn’t have to go through waivers, he might get sent down in favor of someone else. Because of this, he has to show his ‘A’ game in every chance he gets. He didn’t do much on the scoreboard in Thursday’s game, but he still impressed the coaching staff enough to earn another few games. Still, he will have to start contributing more if he wants to stay in the roster throughout the next month; and not get replaced by Kenny Agostino or Wade Megan; two other AHL centers who have earned an NHL spot.