Only a few days after it was deemed firing coach Ken Hitchcock was necessary, things have got from bad to worse for the St. Louis Blues.
New coach Mike Yeo was barely into his second game after being promoted from the associate position, when sophomore center Robby Fabbri hobbled off the ice on Saturday. It was 8:42 into the first period when Pittsburgh Penguins right winger Carter Rowney checked Fabbri into the boards at center ice, a hit that resulted in a knee injury for the Blue.
The team announced Sunday that Fabbri’s season is over because of a left ACL injury.
The injury is a huge blow to the Blues, who lost 4-1 to Pittsburgh and remain out of a playoff spot months after reaching the 2016 Western Conference final. They’re now two points behind Calgary, with two games in hand, for the final wild-card spot. They also trail Nashville by three points for the last spot in the Central Division. Their minus-15 goal differential is the worst mark of those three teams.
Fabbri’s offense will undoubtedly be missed. He’s sixth in team scoring with 11 goals and 29 points in 51 games. This followed a strong post-season effort as a rookie that saw him record 15 points in 20 games.
While the counting stats may not be at last spring’s playoff pace, the underlying numbers show Fabbri’s season has been more effective. According to Corsica, Fabbri’s Corsi-for percentage is 51.84 and his Fenwick-for percentage is 51.11, a sign he was driving play to some extent while on the ice.
Fabbri’s replacements, at least temporarily, aren’t likely to be able to fill his void in the long term. The Blues announced they’ve called up forwards Kenny Agostino and Magnus Paajarvi from AHL Chicago. Agostino, 24, does lead AHL scorers with 60 points. He appeared in two NHL games last season with Calgary. Paajarvi has 16 points in 25 AHL games and has appeared in three contests for the Blues this season. Drafted 10th overall by Edmonton in 2009, Paajarvi has 81 points in 279 NHL games.
Fabbri’s season-ending injury comes at a time when the Blues have been reeling. Their goaltenders collectively have the lowest save percentage in the NHL. Team chemistry issues are also evident. GM Doug Armstrong called the players “independent contractors” during a Wednesday press conference in which he fired Hitchcock and named Yeo his replacement.