When Ivan Barbashev showed up at the Nassau Coliseum for the Blues’ game Monday against the New York Islanders, he looked at the lineup sheet in the dressing room and got concerned. He didn’t see his name.
“Then I realized they moved me back to center,” he said, re-creating his sigh of relief. “I was like, ‘Oh, OK. Good.’”
The lesson learned for Barbashev? “Got to look everywhere. You never know.”
That’s how it’s been on the Blues’ fourth line, where Barbashev and Sundqvist regularly trade the center spot back and forth. Saturday in Montreal, Sundqvist was the center. Monday, it was Barbashev. Thursday night against Vancouver, it was back to Barbashev. (With Robert Thomas, back from an injury, playing on the right wing.)
“That’s how it is,” Sundqvist said. “It doesn’t matter though. I can play both. ... We have to come here to see where we’re supposed to be playing today.”
The distinction is irrelevant at times as the two change roles throughout the game. When there’s a faceoff on the right, Sundqvist’s strong side, he takes it. When there’s a faceoff on the left, Barbashev’s strong side, he takes it. That’s what determines who is playing center on any one play.
“They take their draws on their strong side, so whoever takes it plays center that shift,” coach Craig Berube said. “That’s how it works, which is a real good thing for us, to have two guys out there, both can play center, take faceoffs on their strong side, so it’s a positive.”
“It hasn’t been a discussion about it, just me as a righty taking the right side,” Sundqvist said, “and him as a lefty taking the left side.”
As seen on TV
When the Blues crowded around the Resolute desk in the Oval Office for a picture Tuesday, there were only three Blues from the United States in the photo. Mackenzie MacEachern and Zach Sanford are still on this year’s team, and Chris Butler, who retired after last season, came along. The other American on the Blues’ current roster, Justin Faulk, passed on the trip because he wasn’t on the team last season.
But it was easy to spot the Americans. Butler saw to that.
“He gave all of the American guys American flag pins,” Sanford said. “That was pretty cool. I looked at Trump, he had the same pin on. I don’t know where (Butler) got them, but that was a good idea by him.”
And one observation from Sanford about the Oval Office:
“I started watching that show, ‘Designated Survivor,’” Sanford said. “I was wondering if that’s what it really looks like. I walk into the Oval Office, and it looks like twice as big on the show. It’s weird. I thought, ‘This feels like it’s way too small.’”
‘A little suspicious’
At some points in American history, having a Russian roaming the White House would have been a bit odd. Ivan Barbashev still felt out of place.
“It’s weird,” he said. “I felt a little suspicious as a Russian guy being in the White House and (with) the United States president. It was awesome. It was great. It was one to remember.”
With Thomas back in the lineup, MacEachern was a scratch, along with Sanford and Robert Bortuzzo. … The Blues’ Stanley Cup summer has officially ended. The trophy was returned to Toronto on Thursday, where it will remain most of the time until a new winner is crowned. … Jordan Ta’amu, quarterback for the St. Louis BattleHawks of the XFL, was in the Blues’ dressing room after the morning skate. … Forward Mathias Laferriere, the team’s sixth-round pick in 2018 and the only Blues prospect still in juniors who got in a game in the preseason, signed a three-year entry level deal. Laferriere is with Cape Breton of the QMJHL.