ARIZONA - With a team-best nine goals over the last 26 games, Blues rookie Robby Fabbri is certainly making it look easy.
In fact, Fabbri says he’s a little surprised at how much success he’s had in his first NHL season.
“My rookie year in the OHL I only had 10 goals and I’m at 14 right now here,” Fabbri said. “I feel like I’m adjusting quicker to this league with such great players. The guys around this room and the coaching staff make it easier. They give me little pointers that they’ve learned over the years, and we have such a veteran group here and everyone has been so great.
“They help out a lot and see it in my game.”
The 20-year-old rookie has been especially hot of late, scoring six points in his last six games (three goals, three assists), with five of those points coming on the power play.
“I hadn’t really seen what kind of player he was until this year,” roommate Joel Edmundson said. “Coming into camp, he opened my eyes and I think he’s opened a lot of guys’ eyes. He’s had a great year and it’s great to see him have success. It’s been awesome.”
“It’s been very impressive to watch. He’s got skill and talent, but overall, his character in the locker room and on the ice is a testament to the kind of player he’s going to be and is already,” defenseman Robert Bortuzzo said. “It’s been fun to watch and he’s going to be a world-class player.”
FACING THE COYOTES
The Blues have picked up points in 10 consecutive meetings against the Coyotes and have won six straight, outscoring the Coyotes 29-8 in that span.
In the first meeting on Dec. 8, Alexander Steen and Kevin Shattenkirk each had a goal and an assist, while Vladimir Tarasenko and David Backes also scored for the Blues, who earned a 4-1 victory.
The Coyotes have won three in a row at home. Goalie Louis Domingue is expected to start tonight and is 12-8-4 with a 2.55 goals-against average and a .916 save-percentage. Mike Smith is on injured reserve with a lower-body injury.
“They have a lot of speed and high-end skill. We’re going to work on limiting some of that time and space they thrive on,” Bortuzzo said.
The Blues will be seeking their fifth consecutive victory tonight (8 p.m. CT, FSMW, KMOX).
Since losing Alex Pietrangelo to injury, Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock has paired Bortuzzo and Edmundson on defense with great results - the two have made life extremely difficult on the opposition with their big hits and tough style of play.
“Being a smaller forward like myself, I don’t like to play against D like that,” Fabbri said. “They’ve been doing a great job playing mean, playing tough. You saw ‘Borts' fight the other night. Those are the character guys that we need and they’ve been a big contributor to our success so far.”
“I think we’re just playing with confidence, trying to play with that edge,” Bortuzzo said. “But our biggest thing is making good puck decisions, getting out of our end quick, getting pucks to our high-end forwards. Trying to limit our time in our d-zone and when we are in there, we’re trying to make it tough on that high-end skill we’re up against.”
Patrik Berglund - Alexander Steen - David Backes
Jaden Schwartz - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko
Robby Fabbri - Paul Stastny - Troy Brouwer
Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves
Jay Bouwmeester - Kevin Shattenkirk
Carl Gunnarsson - Colton Parayko
Joel Edmundson - Robert Bortuzzo
Brian Elliott has gone unbeaten in regulation in six consecutive starts, going 5-0-1 with a 1.26 goals-against average and a .961 save-percentage. His last start against the Coyotes was a 23-save shutout on Jan. 6, 2015.
The Blues penalty killers have given up just two goals on 38 attempts since the All-Star break, translating into a League-best 94.7 percent.
Jake Allen skated with the team again today, but Hitchcock said he is not ready to return yet. Jordan Binnington will serve as the back-up tonight.