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Fabbri not playing like rookie for Blues

St. Louis rookie forward continuing to make impact in playoffs

by Louie Korac / Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- Judging by the facial hair engulfing St. Louis Blues rookie Robby Fabbri's face, he's got the look of a seasoned veteran.

It's Stanley Cup Playoff time, and the 20-year-old from Mississauga, Ontario is following in the hockey tradition of having facial hair with their team still alive in the postseason.

"Everyone's making fun of it but I'm proud of it," Fabbri said Sunday. "I tried it in juniors but it was a lot patchier than it is now. I don't even know what it would look like."

The Blues will try to eliminate the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Second Round in Game 6 on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports), and Fabbri will look to build on his first NHL postseason experience.

Video: STL@DAL, Gm5: Fabbri opens the scoring on deflection

The 5-foot-10, 180-pound left wing had a goal and assist in a 4-1 victory in Game 5, his fourth multi-point this postseason. He leads all rookies with 10 playoff points (two goals, eight assists), three ahead of San Jose Sharks forward Joonas Donskoi.

The pressure of playing in the postseason doesn't seem to be fazing Fabbri.

"I think [the World Junior Championship] helped with the big stage, but just playing throughout the year and getting comfortable, learning how to handle everything that comes with it, as it amps up, not getting too much stuff in my head, just worrying about what I can control and that's how I play," Fabbri said. "Everyone's emotionally invested now. It's a fun time of year, got to make sure emotions are in check."

Fabbri had 18 goals and 19 assists in 72 games during the regular season.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock compared Fabbri to another young Blues forward who made a strong impact early.

"I think it was the same with [Jaden] Schwartz, to be honest with you," Hitchcock said. "Schwartz came out of college hockey, he came right to us and he looked immediately like he wanted to carry the torch. I think it's a testament to their character [and] their competitiveness. You feel like you know that player when you watch them play college or junior and then when you get them in the NHL, usually their first kick you can tell right away and boy, those guys have wanted it right away, and they've wanted to be go-to guys, they want to be guys when it's on the line and they're not afraid of the moment. They enjoy it and I think sometimes you feel like you as a coach, you get lucky to coach those types of people.

"I think there's a lot of preparation from a scouting standpoint. They knew exactly what was going on. They told us two years before Schwartz came here and a year before Fabbri came here exactly what we were going to get and they were all right."

Video: STL@DAL, Gm5: Brouwer slips puck past Lehtonen

For a young player to come on and want the stage is reflective of who Fabbri played for when he was with Guelph of the Ontario Hockey League; his coach was former NHL forward Scott Walker.

"I think playoffs are for competitive people and he's a very competitive person," Hitchcock said of Fabbri. "He's not afraid of the stage. It's been like that since anybody started noticing him at age 14. He wants the ball. I think sometimes you wonder, he's 20 years old and you look at other 20-year-olds in the League and there seems to be a glutton of them that aren't afraid of the stage and aren't afraid of the focus and they just go out and play. I think it happens when you have players that have hockey sense like he does and like other players like him and competitive instincts like he does. It's good for the organization."

Fabbri would love nothing more than to help the Blues clinch a spot in the conference final for the first time since 2001.

"It's pretty awesome, to think last year I was sitting watching [the playoffs] and a year later, I'm in them," Fabbri. "It's been a great ride, just have to keep going here."

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