Finally, hockey is back in St. Louis! The St. Louis Blues opened training camp for the 2015-16 season this past weekend and after only three days there are already stories to tell. I haven’t been this excited about training camp since, well, last year. Here are three takeaways from the opening practices as the Blues prepare to open the pre-season schedule Tuesday night.
Fabbri is Fabulous
Nineteen year old Robby Fabbri is as good as advertised and appears ready to join the NHL ranks. The youngster made plenty of noise in his first camp to turn heads and get people talking about him in the media. To the delight of his growing fan-base, Fabbri has been skating on a wing alongside Jaden Schwartz and David Backes.
The move sets up Fabbri to take advantage of space created by the other forwards and sees Schwartz move to Center, a position he’s not normally found in. With Backes on the other side to help with face-offs and provide additional brawn the line has the makings of a scoring threat to nicely compliment the pure speed and sniping we should see from another camp combination: Steen, Stastny, and Tarasenko.
Every time I look up and Robby Fabbri has the puck, he’s scoring. #stlblues
— Lou Korac (@lkorac10) September 21, 2015
Any look inside the St. Louis Blues would be incomplete without some kind of question or drama concerning who’s manning the nets and the weekend gave us just what we expected. Heading into camp it looked like the starting job was going to be a competition again, with Jake Allen possibly holding a slight edge over embattled incumbent Brian Elliott. Early into the weekend Allen was pulled off the ice with what apparently were back spasms but he was back at practice Sunday.
IF Allen is ailing Elliott should and will be given every chance to take the reins and run with them, but I’ll be surprised to see Allen miss any significant time or action. The Blues will have a split squad, home and home scrimmage against the Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday night and both goaltenders will play: Elliott in St. Louis and Allen on the road.
Injuries Shaking up the Defense
Newly signed defenseman Robert Bortuzzo is probably chomping at the bit to get going in his first full season with the Blues, but he too suffered an early injury, something lower-body it looked like, and missed parts of Saturday and Sunday, including the scrimmaging to end the weekend. Bortuzzo is, at least on paper, one of the top 6-7 defensemen this season.
The injury casts a spotlight on a couple of young players who are trying to prove they belong at the NHL level. I mentioned Colton Parayko in a previous post, who has shown signs that he’s ready to make the jump to the big club, and fellow blue liner Joel Edmundson is impressing the coaching staff as well. If Bortuzzo, or anyone else for that matter, should go down in camp or later this season St. Louis is going to have options to call up from the AHL .
Actual, live, honest to goodness hockey is back folks. Opening night isn’t for another 2+ weeks but we’ve got five nights of games coming up as Coach Hitchcock and the Blues set their roster. Buckle up, it’s going to get reckless.