After starting Game 4 on the Blues’ top line, it looks like Ivan Barbashev will be a healthy scratch for Game 5 of their series with the Wild.
Fortunes can change quickly in the brutal environment that is the NHL postseason. That’s certainly the case for St. Louis Blues rookie center Ivan Barbashev. The 21-year-old forward played on the first line for the first three games of the Blues’ first-round playoff series with the Minnesota Wild, centering Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko.
While he had quite a bit of success during those first three games, helping the Blues to a 3-0 series lead, he was pulled off the top line rather quickly in Game 4 as the Blues came out in a sluggish fashion. Alexander Steen became the center on the top line as Barbashev centered Magnus Paajarvi and Zach Sanford for the remainder of the Blues’ 2-0 loss to the Wild, but now things look much more grim for the impressive rookie.
Based on the line pairings that the St. Louis Post Dispatch‘s Jeremy Rutherford and NHL.com’s Lou Korac‘s Jeremy Rutherford and tweeted out during Friday’s Blues practice, it looks as if Barbashev won’t even crack the lineup for Game 5. After a three-game stint as a healthy scratch, center Jori Lehtera will return center the third line, which will allow Steen to move back to a wing spot on the second line.
More significantly, Paul Stastny is expected to make his long-awaited return after missing a month with a lower-body injury. He’ll take over the center spot on the first line. That means Barbashev and Sanford are both on the outside looking in for Game 5–and likely for the foreseeable future, at least until the team loses again and Mike Yeo is motivated to shake up the lineup.
Barbashev has no points and an even rating through the first four games of the series. In 30 regular-season games, he had five goals, seven assists, and a plus-5 rating.