The availability of Brenden Morrow Thursday night meant Vladimir Sobotka was moved back to the fourth line, but that didn’t keep him off the scoreboard.
In the event that Morrow’s visa issues kept him out of the Blues’ home opener, Sobotka would have played on the second line with Derek Roy and Chris Stewart. Instead Sobotka started on a line with grinders Max Lapierre and Ryan Reaves and handed the Blues a 2-0 lead in the first period of their 4-2 win over Nashville.
“To me, I don’t know how to describe it other than he’s such an important player ... he’s just an important player,’’ Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said.
Sobotka is arguably the Blues’ most versatile player, contributing offensively, defensively and in the details of the game. He spent part of Thursday’s morning skate working on face-offs, and although Lapierre broke Sobotka’s stick on one particular practice draw, Lapierre said: “He’s really strong on face-offs.’’
“That was my old stick,” Sobotka said, laughing. “(Lapierre) is not that strong.”
In the game, Sobotka claimed seven of nine face-offs, by far the largest winning percentage on the team. Nashville won the battle in the circle 51-49 percent.
“That’s a really good face-off team and he was 7-2,’’ Hitchcock said. “He’s great on the PK, great 5 on 5 ... he’s a guy that you’ve got to watch yourself because sometimes you take him for granted.’’
The Blues will see plenty of first-year coach Patrick Roy now that Colorado is in the Central Division.
Roy made a successful debut behind the bench Wednesday night as the Avalanche won 6-1. But Roy added to the win.
Just after the game ended, an argument between Roy and Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau ensued. A glass partition separates the benches at Pepsi Center, but Roy pushed it back multiple times and it nearly fell on Boudreau. Roy was fined $10,000 on Thursday for his antics.
“Bruce, he could have had a new middle name: Pancake,” Hitchcock said. “He could have got squished. That (partition) goes any further and Bruce has got the best weight-loss program going.
“I saw that first-hand ... that’s junior hockey. It’s got no place in our game. You can’t be pushing barriers down. It’s just got no place in our game. I’ve been involved in some of those incidents a long time ago and they are really, really scary.”
• Brett Hull, the leading scorer in Blues’ history, drew a loud ovation before dropping the ceremonial first puck. He was making his first public appearance since being hired last month as the vice president of business operations.
• Jaroslav Halak started Thursday’s game, joining Grant Fuhr (1995-98) as the only goalies in franchise history to start four consecutive season openers.
• F Magnus Paajarvi and F Adam Cracknell and D Ian Cole were healthy scratches.