Robert Bortuzzo played in his first game last night for the St. Louis Blues and was a rare bright spot as the Blues gave up three 3rd period goals to fall in Philadelphia 3-1. Bortuzzo, familiar with the Flyers from his days in Pittsburgh, joined the Blues via trade from the Penguins in exchange for defenseman Ian Cole on Monday’s NHL Trade Deadline.
Logging just over 16 minutes on the ice and paired primarily with Barret Jackman, Bortuzzo looked like he fit right in with his new teammates. Outlet passes were crisp and well executed, he used his considerable size (6’4″, 215lbs) to his advantage in the corners and along the side boards, standing up Flyer forwards and generally establishing his physical presence the way few other Blues defenseman have this season.
With such intimate knowledge of the Flyers, it’s surprising the gloves never came off for Bortuzzo last night, but he was second for St. Louis in hits with five (Jackman had 6) and also blocked two shots. Bortz didn’t see any special teams time but if the Blues continue to struggle in those areas I can see him killing penalties in the future.
It was a defensive letdown that cost St. Louis the game but Bortuzzo played his part well and Doug Armstrong has to like his first look at the new Blue. It will be interesting to see how the lineup shakes out once fellow newcomer Zbynek Michalek returns to game play. Bortuzzo may be the odd man out if rookie Petteri Lindbohm continues his strong play.