One of the more remarkable things about the St. Louis Blues’ late-season run has been the team’s ability to plug in youngsters to fill spots for injured veterans.
The Blues’ lineup Sunday against the Nashville Predators was missing injured players Paul Stastny, Carl Gunnarsson, Jori Lehtera, Robert Bortuzzo and Robby Fabbri. Despite that, the Blues knocked off Nashville 4-1 and improved to 19-7-2 in Mike Yeo’s first 28 games behind the bench as head coach.
That includes a 12-1-2 mark in the last 15 games that helped them nail down their sixth straight playoff berth.
In their place are forwards Ivan Barbashev (four goals, eight points in 25 game) and Zach Sanford (one goal, three points in nine games) along with defenseman Petteri Lindbohm and Jordan Schmaltz.
“We keep saying it, ‘next man up,’” Yeo said. “That’s the attitude. It’s up to the guys that are coming in to make sure they perform and show that they belong. It’s up to the rest of the group to make sure they carry their load and a little bit more as well.
“I think we’ve done a nice job of that. As we’ve gone on along our team game has gotten stronger and when we’re strong as a group, then it gives all the individuals a chance to be successful.”
Lindbohm in on defense
Lindbohm replaced Bortuzzo in the Blues defense corps Sunday with Bortuzzo still dealing with an upper-body injury suffered Friday against Colorado.
Lindbohm played in five Blues games before Sunday, collecting no points and four penalty minutes. The 2012 sixth-round draft pick had seven goals and 15 points in 47 games with the American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves this season while battling through injuries.
“I thought he did well (in camp),” Yeo said. “It’s been a difficult year for him with the injuries that he’s had, but he’s certainly a guy that all of us up here have been trying to keep an eye on to see how he’s doing and how he’s performing.
“The nice thing is we know what his game is, there’s not a lot of in-betweens there for us.”
The 23-year-old defenseman has two goals and three points in 38 career games with the Blues. On Sunday he was paired with rookie defenseman Jordan Schmaltz and they were on the ice for just under 14 minutes.
“They looked good,” Blues goalie Jake Allen said. “Schmaltz is still finding his way and so is Lindbohm, but they were solid for the most part.”
Yeo thinks Lindbohm has an opportunity to help the club.
“He’s a solid defender who plays physical and he’s got an edge to his game,” Yeo said. “I’m anxious to see if he can be a nice compliment to Schmaltz as a partner. In an ideal world and as you draw it up, it looks like they should be good.”
Playoff tickets on sale Friday
Blues single-game playoff tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday at www.stlouisblues.com. Fans fan also purchase tickets before they go on sale to the public by calling 314-622-2551 if they placer a deposit on any 2017-18 regular-season ticket package.
The Blues are one of only four teams to qualify for the playoffs in the last six seasons. The others are the Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins.